Are people born basically good? Or are people born with selfishness that can lead to evil? These questions kicked off our discussion for the evening and made us think about the need for a God who is for us in the midst of our own sin and selfishness.
We centered around Jesus' claim to be "the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." In a world where we are a constantly aware of the many different religious beliefs we are surrounded by, how do we understand these words by Jesus?
A Word To Know: Religious Pluralism is the belief that all religions are equally valid. Religious pluralists believe that even though some religions might contradict each other, each holds a part of the eternal truth of the Divine.
We looked at some of the world religions and their view of Jesus, some think he was a prophet, was human but became god, and other thought he was a liar claiming to be the savior. Only Christianity claims Jesus was both God and human and came to bring humans back to right relationship with God. We talked about the idea that all religions lead to God and the ideology that religion is a moral system designed to make us good people conflicts with the Bible's claim that we are all tainted by sin and need rescuing. This rescue comes in the form of Jesus Christ.
Take a look at the image below. When we say that all paths lead to God, we are making a statement that all religions in effect bring us to the same God, this is religious pluralism. Are there good things in other religions, absolutely. Loving others, helping those in need, these are good things. But when we state that all religions lead to God, we are saying that the God of Christianity is the same as the God of Islam and Hinduism, which is not the God described in the Bible. The second pictures places this in perspective. We are talking about distinctly different gods, on different mountains with different paths.
With this in mind we took a look some of the claims in the Old Testament made by God as well as the New Testament and what Jesus stated in the Gospel of John. We discussed why God would be jealous and how this jealousy could be a positive thing.
We also took a look at what Jesus says in John 14:1-7. Especially the words about coming to the Father through him.
John 14:1-7; Exodus 20:4-6; Exodus 32:1-14
Verses 4 and 5 talk about "the way" to where Jesus is going. In verse 6, Jesus claims, "I am the way." A "way" links two things together. Jesus is the link between sinful human beings and a holy God. "Truth"- Jesus is making a statement that he is totally reliable. Everything he has taught and done is trustworthy. He embodies God's truth. "Life"- This is an amazing word coming from someone who would die a few hours later. Jesus seems to say that there is far more to life than what we experience now. To follow Jesus (the way) and trust him (truth) leads us to life: real life in the present as well as eternal life with God and resurrection from the dead.
"Religious pluralism destroys the personality of God."
If the gospel of Jesus is true, that means we have a God who is incredibly gracious and forgiving. Our God's "personality" is such that God will even go to the length of dying personally for our reconciliation to God and to one another. That is a different "personality" than some faith systems that believe God instead requires human beings to earn their righteousness. Those are two different "God personalities." Ultimately, since Christianity believes God values relationships at the core, the personality of God is actually quite important.
Finally, when approaching others about faith we need to keep in mind 1 Peter 3:15-16, approaching others with "gentleness and respect" can go a long way when making a claim about who we are as Christians.
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