America is a country of unique diversity. We are a country of immigrants. Unless you are a Native American, your ancestry is connected to another country or continent. That diversity is expressed in traditions and holidays unique to the heritage of those peoples. Many large cities have areas known as, Little Italy and China Town. We refer to many
Americans by their ethnic origins such as African Americans, Korean Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. Much of the world may hate us, but much of the world wants to be here. Many Hispanics risk their lives to enter our country. We call this diversity pluralism and whether we agree on the cultural practices we honor the right of those who practice them. That
is called Tolerance. If we disagree with the customs or beliefs we had the right to debate them, and to say why we disagreed. This is or was social Tolerance.
America has also become a country with diverse religious practices. A few years ago, our President upset a lot of people by saying this, "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation, at least not just, we are also a Jewish nation. A Buddhist nation, a Muslim nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of unbelievers." But there is truth in that
statement. Gallup polls tell us that 40% of Americans claim to attend church when they were surveyed. However, the actual % of Americans that attend church on any given Sunday in the U.S.A, is only 17½%. Because of the first amendment, we may not agree with the faiths of others, but we have honored their right to practice them. We also had the freedom to say why we disagreed
with the faiths of others. That was called Religious Tolerance.
When 9/11 occurred Americans rushed to churches for answers and for comfort, but the swelling of attendances lasted only for about a month. Many Americans and Pastors thought that perhaps God, though He did not cause 9/11, was using the results as means of a Spiritual Awakening and Revival in America. But that did not happen. Prayer meetings were
called, but attendees included Buddhist, Muslims, and Hindus, like the one in New York’s Yankee Stadium, Sept. 14, 2001, A prayer was offered to…"the God of Abraham, the God of Muhammad, and the Father of Jesus Christ." Oprah Winfrey led the service in New York and boldly declared, "All people pray to the same God." And peoples of other faiths were called to the podiums to
led prayer. Chaplains and pastors offering prayer in state senates were asked to no longer pray in Jesus’ name so as to not offend those who are not Christian. Many had to submit their prayers for approval before they could be offered.
What Oprah Winfrey expressed is what many Americans now believe is true; that is, that all religions are valid and all really worship the same God, just differently. Religions are, therefore, like rivers that eventually all lead to the same ocean or God is like a mountain top and all faiths are like paths that arrive at the same destination at the
top?" When I was researching for this lesson, I came across this:
On the first Sunday in May - May 4, 2014 (or other times during the year) – churches dedicate their worship to a celebration of our interfaith world. Progressive Christians thank God for religious diversity! We don’t claim that our religion is superior to all others. We recognize that other religions can be as good for others as ours is for us. We can
grow closer to God and deeper in compassion—and we can understand our own traditions better—through a more intimate awareness of the world’s religions. On PLURALISM SUNDAY, churches celebrate elements of other world faiths in their sermons, litanies, and music; many feature speakers and singers from other faith traditions. Some congregations have exchanges with other faith
communities, going to each other’s houses of worship.
The first Sunday in May is also "Interview an Atheist at Church Day". This is another expression of religious pluralism: "understanding better what both unites and divides religious and non-religious people can only help us make this world a better place."
PLURALISM SUNDAY is initiated by ProgressiveChristianity.org. Congregations worldwide have adopted its "Welcome Statement" that affirms that other religions can be as good for their followers as Christianity is for us.
Learn here what churches around the world are doing to promote religious pluralism as a profound expression of the love and the humility that Jesus preached and practiced.
We are ½ way through our study of 8 Great Lies that America has Embraced. After today we will be ¾ of the way as we will look at two today that go together.
#5. Pluralism is to be respected as all Religions led to God
#6. Truth is Relative and there is no such thing as Absolute Truth.
They go together because what is known as Post-Modernism philosophy has been accepted by over 75% of Americans, and says that there is no such thing as absolute truth. All truth is relative and subjective. That is, that truth is what each person perceives it to be. Muslims believe they have the truth, Buddhist believe they have the truth, Christians
believe we have the truth, but no one really has the whole truth. Consider, for example, a speech given by President Clinton at Georgetown University (Nov. 7th, 2001). In it, he says that we might be the blame of the terrorist’s attacks because of our own arrogant self-righteousness. If both sides would have just sat down and realized that there is no such thing as absolute
truth they would have realized that there is no ideology worth fighting for. "Nobody’s got the truth," he told the students. "You are at a university which basically believes that no one ever has the whole truth, ever….we are incapable of having the whole truth." The terrorist believed that they had the truth and that’s why they attacked us. But since we understand that truth
is unknowable, we are more tolerant. "They believe they got it. Because we don’t believe you can have the whole truth, we think everyone counts."
Schools and Universities have been called on to respect our Pluralistic Diversity and to practice Tolerance because we don’t believe in Absolute Truth. But that presents several problems for true Christ-Followers. We have been called on to express truth to those who don’t know it. That is inherent in the command to go into all the world and tell people
about Jesus. Will that offend people? It sure will, and that offense has led to persecution, imprisonment, torture, and death. But to tell the truth also means exposing the lies. Many people don’t want to be told that what they have believed or practiced is wrong. Today, to respect another’s beliefs but to express our opinion about them is considered as Intolerance.
Here is a second problem. Christianity’s claim is that it is exclusive. Jesus did not say, that He was a way, or a truth, or a light. He claimed to be The Exclusive, Only Way, the Only Truth, and The Only Light. He said, that there was no other way to God the Father except by Him (John 14:6). He told Pilate what this series is based on, that He came
into the world to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). He said that Satan is a liar and the father of Lies, and John said that Satan is out to deceive the whole the world (Rev. 12:9).
American Christians are considered to be Intolerant, and therefore, in a Country where Tolerance has become a mantra, the only thing that can’t be tolerated is Intolerance. It is "intolerant" to speak of exclusive truth, or knowing truth, or claiming that your beliefs are true while others beliefs are not true. It is "intolerant" to say that Hinduism
is a false religion, or that Islam does not serve the true God- Allah is not the god. It is America’s Politically Correct view of religion. And the only faith that Tolerance doesn’t seem to tolerate is Conservative Christianity.
Let me remind you again, that the purpose of this series is not slam America, it is to encourage you to know the truth about these lies and to intentionally share them with your children and Grandchildren. Dads, Moms and Grandparents, God has called us, not the public schools and not even the churches, but us, to make sure our children know this stuff.
Listen to these Scriptures:
Deut. 4:9, "Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,"
Deut. 6:7, "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Psalm 78:1-8, "Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, 3 which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and
His wonderful works that He has done.
5 For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; 6 That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, 7 That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the
works of God, But keep His commandments; 8 And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God. So, what do we teach them?
I. The Issue of Truth – Pilate asked, "What is truth," (John 18:38)
If the Bible is truly God’s word, we would assume that it is what it claims to be, and that is truth, and its morals and teachings are absolutes. Truth is that which is real, established, proven, fixed, genuine, and accurate. Truth is what is. It doesn’t depend on whether it is believed or accepted or not. It is what it is regardless. Consider what the
A. John 4:19-24 says, that true worshipers will worship God in truth and that God is seeking for people to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Now, notice that He doesn’t say, "In sincerity," but in truth.
B. John 17:17 Jesus says, that God’s word is truth and it will protect us from Satan and the world.
C. John 8:31-32- Jesus says that those who continue in His word would know the truth and the truth would make them free
D. Deut. 32:4 Moses says that God is a God of truth
E. John 14:6 Jesus says, He is the Truth
F. John 16:13 Jesus says that the Holy Spirit is Truth
G. John 1:14-18 John says that Jesus revealed God and that God is Grace and Truth. All of this to say that if God and His word are true than what His word says is the truth. That truth proclaims in its contents that all men are sinners and have violated the holiness of God and therefore cannot come into His presence, but God came to men in Jesus and
died to pay the penalty for their sins and then rose again to forgive and receive anyone who would repent and receive Him as their Savior and Lord. So consider what this truth states:
II. How do we know that we have the truth?
A. The Reliability of the Bible It is the most unique book in the world. Its science, and history are absolutely true and reliable. I encourage you to get the sermon from 2 years ago that answered the question, "How do we Know that the Bible is God’s Word and Not just man’s?" It is a book of prophetic
accuracy. Thousands of precise prophecies that have been fulfilled. No other religious book in the world can claim that. Even the Mormons and Muslims have to take a verse out of context to make it fit that their leader was promised in the Bible. From Genesis 3 to Malachi, we are told who the Messiah would be, where He would be born, the uniqueness of His birth, when He would
be born, how He would die, why He would die as He did and that He would rise again. There is no book that comes even close to being what the Brits call, "Spot On.!"
B. Because unlike any other faith we alone have a Leader that claimed to be God and that He would rise again from the dead after He was crucified. Today there is an empty tomb in Israel and no way on earth to explain why it is empty other than that the person who was buried there rose again. The Fact that there is total lack of 1st century refutation
of this speaks volumes. Buddha is dead, Confucius is dead, and Mohammed is dead. They never said they were god or that they would rise again from the dead. But Jesus did and He proved it and that is the truth. If He did not rise from the dead than this book is not true, He is not true, and both should be ignored. But if He did rise from the dead, than He is the truth and this
book is the truth and there is no other God, nor is there any other way to Him and all other ways are wrong and their end is death (Prov. 14:12).
III. The Issue of Authority
A. John 3:16-18. 36 God loved the world in this manner, He sent His Son to save all who will believe in Him. All who will not believe in Him are and will remain in a state of condemnation. That is absolute!
B. John 14:6 Jesus said that No One can come to the Father except by Him – That’s absolute
C. Acts 4:12 Peter says, that there is salvation in no other for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved – That is absolute
D. John 8:24 Jesus said that, all who don’t believe in Him will die in their sins. That is an absolute statement.
E. Isaiah 43:10-11 and 45:21-22 Jehovah Elohim says that He is God alone and besides Him there is no Savior. Paul says this text refers to Jesus in Phil.2:10-11. That is absolute.
F. 1 Tim. 2:5 Paul says that there is One God and One Mediator between God and man –Just One – Jesus. That is absolute
G. 1 John 5:9-12 John says, "If you don’t have Jesus, you don’t have life, that’s all there is to it." That is absolute
H. Remember that Jesus said that we all have two choices in life. One is wide and embraced by many and one is narrow and embraced by only a few. One leads to death, the other leads to life. We must choose wisely. (Matt. 7:13-14) That is Absolute
I. Proverbs 14:12 reminds us that everyone has a way which seems right to him but the end of those ways is death. My friends, we proclaim that there is just one way because the God who is Truth and His Word which is Truth, proclaims that there is only one way and there is just one Savior!
IV. The Issue of Logic – The Law of Non Contradiction
This law states that if two or more opposing statements all claim to be true, then we can be sure that they are either all false, or one is true and the others are false. If four people are asked which way is north and all point in different directions like 12, 3, 6, and 9 on a clock, we can be assured that either they are all wrong or one is right and
the other 3 are wrong. Do you understand this? If four people are asked what 2 and 2 add up to, and one says 4, another, 8 and still another 16, and another 22, are they all right if they sincerely believe they are right. No! Either they are all wrong or just one is right. Mathematics is absolute. If Jesus claims to be truth and Islam claims to be truth and Buddha claims to
be truth and Mormonism claims to be truth and Hinduism claims to be truth, they are either all wrong or one is right and the rest are wrong.
V. The Issue of Sincerity –
It is here that we begin to imagine God as being gracious and accepting of those who are sincere in their wrong beliefs. However, it really isn’t an issue of how a person believes but what a person believes. A good illustration of this is Minnesota Vikings great defensive lineman, Jim Marshall. Jim was one of the purple people eaters of a generation
ago. During one game Jim Marshall picked up a fumbled ball and ran as hard as he could, fighting off tacklers so he could score a touchdown. The only problem was, he ran the wrong way. He was sincere, but sincerely wrong.
About 20 years ago newspapers ran a story about a nurse that changed a patient’s oxygen tank with another tank clearly marked and labeled as oxygen. However, the next morning the patient was found dead. The tank, marked as oxygen, was really filled with nitrogen. The nurse was sincere, but sincerely wrong. (cp. also some farming practices, like
cultivating corn and destroying feeder roots) Again, Solomon said in Proverbs 14:12, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (NKJV) Sincerity is not the issue; truth is!
To say that there is no such thing as absolute truth is absurd. It is a contradictory because it is an absolute statement. It usually only applies to matters of philosophy, morals, and faith. Tell a diabetic that insulin is just one treatment for diabetes but if he sincerely believes chocolate is another he’ll be okay, and see how long he survives.
Tell a sky diver that a parachute is just one way to jump out of an airplane from 10,000 feet and arrive safely to the ground, but if he wants to use an umbrella instead, he’ll be alright as long as he is sincere. Tell the owner of a new gasoline engine truck that his truck runs on lead free gasoline, but if he wants to use diesel fuel he’ll be okay as long as he is sincere
and watch how long that engine lasts. And we could go on and on. To follow any other way and try to attain salvation and the assurance of heaven other than faith in Jesus Christ may be sincere but it is sincerely wrong.
V. The Issue of Beliefs
A. We are not worshiping the same God. Consider:
• Buddha taught that if there is a god he isn’t involved in our journey to enlightenment
• Hindu’s teach that there are millions of gods
• Islam teaches that God is not the father of Jesus, Jesus is not God, neither did He rise from the dead (the core fact of Christianity), God would never stoop to reach man, and is arbitrary in all his decisions
• Only Christianity sees God as merciful and gracious while being Holy, and has sought to redeem man by becoming his substitutional sacrifice for his sins.
B. Consider the Issue of Salvation:
• The Buddhist considers salvation as attaining Nirvana – a state of nothingness or the extinction of desire. All pain and suffering are the results of desire and when desire is gone, nothingness is achieved. One reaches this through the 8 fold path of enlightenment.
• The Hindu becomes one with the universe through reincarnations achieved through karma until one is cleansed and is added to the universe as a drop of water is added to the ocean
• In Islam, salvation is the arbitrary decision of Allah. Though one is taught to keep the five pillars of the faith, these provide no assurance of salvation. Only a martyr who dies in a Jihad (Holy war) is assured of paradise.
• Only Christianity sees heaven as a gift of God freely bestowed on anyone who repents of sin and receives Jesus (including His death and resurrection as their substitute) as their savior and Lord. (Romans 10:9-13)
C. The Message is different
• In every religion in the world including the cults that have surfaced in Christianity (Mormon, J.W.’s, etc.) the message is, if one works, he or she may earn salvation or the favor of the faith or the god.
• Only Christianity says, "the work is done" Jesus said from the cross, "It is Finished." (John 19:30). All anyone must do to receive forgiveness and eternal life is to repent (turn away from sin) and (turn to) believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord. That person is then received by God as an adopted child and is given the gift of eternal life (John
1:11-12; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:23; Titus 3:5, many others)
VI. The Issue of Application – The above is what we teach our children but…
A. Those of us who know the truth – must do all we can to tell the truth to those who don’t know the truth or who are deceived in their faith system. Listen carefully, If there was any other way to God, Jesus would not have had to die. He prayed that awful night, "Father if there is any other way, let this cup pass from me." But there was no other way.
God could have said, "Just be sincere in whatever you want to believe and it will be okay." But it would not have been true. Man lives in a state of condemnation because he has inherited a sin nature which leads to sinful behavior which is contrary to God’s holiness and thus prevents him from being able to be with Him. It was an act of love from a Holy God which provided a
substitute for our penalty and a cure for our problem. Like an antibiotic for an infection, or insulin for a diabetic, there is just one way to be healed from our sin problem. Our Father wants those of us who have received the cure to tell others how they do can receive the cure. We can respect people’s right to believe what they want, but not to the extent that we don’t
speak the truth and encourage them to receive Jesus.
B. Reason with them. (Acts 17:3, 16-17)- When Paul traveled and told people about Jesus, it wasn’t always with a soap box and a megaphone. He would go to the synagogue and engage people in conversation. The word, "reasoned" comes from the Greek word, which we carried straight into English, dialogue. It includes asking questions, and listening to
responses. And then in a graceful way showing and telling the truth. Those questions could include things like:
1. What does your faith teach you about forgiveness?
2. What does your faith teach you about how to go to heaven?
3. How good is good enough?
4. How do you know that God loves you?
5. What assurance do you have that what you believe is true?
Peter reminds us that we are to always have an answer for those who want to know the reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15).
C. Remember, you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Be graceful, and speak the truth in love. Some may hate you but some may thank God for you showing them the truth.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman