What do other religions really believe? Does a Christian have to “study up” so he / she can deliver the Good News? Do other religions know something we don’t?
Have you even gotten into an argument with a person who is the total opposite of yourself? For me, I lean on the conservative side of thing on several issues and when I talk to my more liberal friend on said issues, their views are, shall we say, quite a bit different. Try as I might, I just can’t convince them of my point of view. I KNOW I’m right and they’re wrong, but boy oh boy, they just don’t see it that way. It’s an understandable thing that we all fall into and one word sums it all up,..perception.
Our perceptions make our reality. From our religious beliefs, to politics to even seeing the physical world around us, our perceptions shapes the world in which we live. You can lose your car keys and look all over God’s creation for them, only to find them right in front of you. Why did you miss the keys when they were in plain sight, because you were thinking “they’ve got to be here” instead of “there” and your perceptions changed the world around you so you wouldn’t see the car keys. Car keys are a simple example, but an appropriate one when it comes to how we interact with other’s differing belief systems. Car keys are one thing, but how an individual believes in God, Jesus, Heaven, Hell and the rest,..well,..that’s quite another matter.
There is a difference between the different religions and Christians. We know what we know and they, the same. Some of us know people that are Mormons, Muslims, Unitarians, Jehovah Witnesses and other religions. Find a friend in another religion who’s perceptions have been altered by their belief system and you, being the evangelical Christian that we are supposed to be, could have a very interesting, and sometimes heated conversation. Just what do they believe in anyway? Lets go over the big names in religion and talk about their take on things like God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, death and how they view other beliefs.
- GOD: They believe that god the father was once a man, but “progressed” into godhood. He has a physical body as does his wife, the heavenly mother. There is no holy trinity (the three in one) but each part of the trinity (father, son, holy spirit) are three separate gods. A man, being worthy, could possibly progress into a god.
- Jesus: Jesus was conceived by god and the heavenly mother. He is a god himself, but not a part of anything resembling a trinity. Jesus was married. His death on the cross does not atone humanity of all of their sins but gives them resurrection.
- Holy Spirit: It is not god and it is an influencer or emanation from God (or “light of Christ”)
- Salvation: Resurrection by grace but saved by works to ascend to a godhood like existence. To obey church leaders is paramount to this ascension. Rituals within the Mormon church is key and no one can achieve salvation without being a member of the Mormon church.
- God: God (Allah) is one and they do not recognize the trinity. Muslims believe that anything associated with god is the greatest sin called “Shirk”. Muslims believe that Christians believe in three gods, therefore we are guilty of Shirk. Fatherly attributes are forbidden associations for god.
- Jesus: Seen as one of the most respected of prophets sent by Allah. Jesus was not crucified. Jesus was born of a virgin, but created like Adam and not God. They do not believe in His crucifixion. They believe that Jesus will return (not Muhammad) as a special role in the judgment day to turn those from Christianity to Islam.
- Holy Spirit: Muslims reject the existence of the Holy Spirit
- Salvation: Humans are basically good with fallacies. Works will determine salvation along with Allah’s mercy tipping the scales.
- God: Everything and everyone is god. God is an impersonal force and it is up to humans to discover the power within.
- Jesus: He is not god, but a spiritual leader. This “ascended master” tapped into divine power the same way we all can. Many believe that Jesus went to Tibet and learned mystical truths. Jesus did not physically rise, but spiritually rose into a higher plane of existence.
- Holy Spirit: A physic force. Man can use this force to contact unearthly beings.
- Salvation: A balance of bad karma and good karma is needed. Tapping into the supernatural force through meditation, self-awareness and spirit guides can achieve godhood.
These are three of the major religions that we have to contend with. In looking at their belief structure, we, as Christians, may scratch our heads and wonder “how could anyone believe in any of this?” I scratch my head and think something totally different: “why is the church beginning to accept much of this?”
Many motivational speakers, both in the secular world and Christian pulpits write books, sell DVDs / Blue Rays, MP3s that mix New Age ideology alongside Christianity. Many Christians believe that works will get us in a better place, much like the Mormons. Many Christians believe that we are basically good, but with a few faults and need to “work it out” to gain salvation, much like the Muslims. This “sprinkling” of ideas within our faith can cause some very serious problems and has manifested within the Church over the course of the last several decades. Many churches are mixing middle-eastern ideas alongside the Bible. Many churches are mixing Islam with Christianity, dubbed “Christlam” and it’s gaining quick acceptance. Other beliefs from other religions not mentioned here are oozing their way into the pews and minds of the body of Christ.
What are we to do?
The task of talking to others who believe differently may seem daunting. Many might think that we, as Bible-believing Christians, need to go to seminary and study up on all the religions just so we can keep our wits about us. Not so! Listed below are 3 things to never forget when speaking to others that have different beliefs.
- Know your Bible
There is no other authority other than God and His Will is in the Bible, not any other religious book. There is no need to study the book of Mormon or the Quran. In studying other texts from other religions, you devalue the authority of the Bible and what it has to say. Know what God has to say about salvation, what he has to say about Himself, His Son, and you will be fine.
- Ask them questions
It may sound simple enough, but asking a question is a very useful tactic. Ask a Mormon what he believes about Jesus and salvation. Asking questions keeps you out of pointing a finger and makes the other person open up about what they believe.
When asking your questions, this is a perfect opportunity to do the Great Commission. We, the body of Jesus Christ, have the Good News. Salvation is given to all who will accept it from Jesus. We don’t have to work anymore. We have the “rest” from God and He will never forsake us, no matter what we do, and He will always love us, no matter how much we’ve fallen. When talking to others that believe differently than you, don’t see it as scary, see it as an opportunity to gain another brother or sister in Christ.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to talk to two Mormons that came a knocking on my door on a cold winter’s night. Their first question to me was “what do you know about the Mormon church?” Well, I told them and listened to what they had to say. When they were finished, I asked them “what will happen to you when you die?” They both looked at me and said “well, if we do well, we will become like god.” My “foot-in-the-door” question back to them was “…but how do you know?” From that moment on, I talked about Jesus and told them about how we have this life to accept His gift. I went on and there were times where one of them asked me where some of the passages I was quoting them could be found. At the end of our conversation, they left and I prayed that I planted a seed. This is what we do; we scatter seeds and hope that they take root in good soil. This is all we can do and it is our mission.
“Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps & Time Lines” ©January 2013 (23rd printing) Printed by Regent Publishing Services Ltd. Pages: 169-171