‘If I only had a dollar for every time ….’ Is the typical statement of those who are fed up with the incredibly idiotic statements made by others? Mine is “Christianity is true for you but not necessary for others.” The problem with the people who make this statement is they have confused belief with truth. However, belief alone does not guarantee that the matter at hand is true. Truth, on the other hand, is not a respecter of any belief that contradicts it. Truth conforms to reality and the object being referred to.
When it comes to God, we have a similar situation. Many people have shown up who claim to know the truth about God. On the surface, it may seem as if most of them are headed in the same direction. However, when we look closely, we see that they all contradict each other when it comes to the most important points, like salvation. For example, Christianity is the sole belief that teaches salvation by God’s grace, through faith alone. The others teach works (good deeds) and specific conditions as a necessity.
Let us look at some contradictory claims about Jesus, Salvation and Eternity. This is by no means a comprehensive list and may be wrong in some areas but this is my take on the following:
- Evangelical Christians – One God, Jesus the Son is God in the flesh; salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus alone; heaven is for believers; non-believers end up in hell. An evangelical Christian is a believer who holds to the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture over any other teaching or tradition, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith alone. I believe to be the one true Faith.
- Traditional Roman Catholicism – One God, Jesus the Son is God in the flesh; salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus plus “good” works, sacraments and penance here and in purgatory; heaven is the final result for true believers; non-believers end up in hell; claims to be the only true church.
- Judaism – One God; beliefs about Jesus vary from he was a great moral teacher, a pagan idol or was a false prophet; Jesus was just a man not the Messiah/ Savior that they believe is still to come; Jewish believers can sanctify their lives and draw closer to God by obeying divine commandments and good works; God will reward the good and punish the wicked; the dead will be resurrected; extreme evildoers like Hitler will have an eternal punishment.
- Islam – Jesus was a prophet; salvation is by belief in Allah, Mohammad and many good works which the local Imam decides; true believers go to heaven; non-Muslims will all be in hell.
- Hinduism – Jesus was a prophet; millions of gods; salvation through good works and overcoming karma; reincarnation.
- Buddhism – Jesus was an enlightened man; many salvations possible by the cessation of desire through an eight-fold path and defined works; extinguish your ego to enter nirvana, a form of heaven. Buddha was a raised Hindu and rejected Hinduism because of the caste system. He was actually an atheist but there are various forms of Buddhism.
- Higher Power – Whatever anyone believes about Jesus, salvation and eternity is true. Every belief about God is true as long as someone believes it.
- New Age – Jesus was an enlightened man/ god; salvation not needed because we are all gods like Jesus, but do not realize it; reincarnation in new life based on works; contradictions among adherents embraced so beliefs can vary widely.
- Mormonism – Jesus is the spirit brother of Satan and was once a man like all men; salvation is by faith in their Jesus, being obedient to Mormonism and good works; non-Mormons get a second chance after death to convert; best Mormons get their own universe and become its god; worst of the worst are cast into eternal darkness; they claim to be the only true church, aka: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or LDS.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses – Jesus is the archangel Michael; salvation by faith in Jesus plus works and obedience to JW teachings; most believers live eternally on a renewed Earth since they believe heaven is full; non-believers die and cease to exist; it claims to be the only true church.
- Atheism/ Humanism – Jesus is just a man; there is no afterlife; you die and get buried and the worms devour you.
My list indicates that several of the groups believe in Jesus, but their versions of Jesus contradict the Bible and each other. Muslims say that Jesus existed, but he did not die on the cross and rise again. Most religions say that Jesus was just a man, an extraordinary man maybe. The Bible says that Jesus is God in the flesh and the only way to heaven. Not everyone can be correct. To come to a version of Jesus which is contrary to the Bible, people arbitrarily reject parts of the Bible they do not like and build their own Jesus. Then they add other books with teachings that contradict what Jesus taught, and with no evidence, they claim that these are correct and the Bible is false.
If the evidence shows us that God does exist, we can utilize the law of non-contradiction, to eliminate those beliefs that contradict the truth. I want to reiterate that we should respect others and co-exist with them. Despite what other person’s state, I do not ‘put down’ other people’s beliefs. If engaged in a discussion about certain beliefs and they state something that I find not factual I will point it out and generally state my viewpoint. It is unfortunate that they often take it personally and end the discussion. Every person has the right to believe whatever they want, and no one has the right to force their beliefs on anyone. However, the truth of the matter is simply stated in the following quote: “Contrary beliefs can exist but contrary truths cannot.” Dr. Frank Turek, author, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.”
From the above list, you can determine that the concepts of salvation and eternity are exclusive for each belief. If someone claims (and there are many who do so) that anyone’s belief is true is actually saying that truth can contradict itself, which logically is false. Therefore, the overreaching question is WHO HAS THE TRUTH.
There is one gotcha idea we have to bring up here. It is a cop-out for most non-believers to claim that religion is ethno-centric, cultural and dependent upon geographic boundaries. The claim is made that people believe what they do simply because of their country of birth, so it is not their fault if they are not Christians. If you were born in Yemen you would probably be Muslim. While there is some validity (very little) to this statement, it does not mean that their belief is true it is illogical. Using that type of reasoning, we would have to say that the individuals raised in Germany under Nazism were correct in their beliefs. Or that children raised in families where the father figure was a member of the Ku Klux Klan continued believing racism and segregation is correct – it is not their fault. The origin or sincerity of their beliefs does not prove that it is true or false. Only evidence can do that. This fact is supported around the world by the number of individuals who have converted from their country’s primary belief to Christianity. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_converts_to_Christianity read the box on the right side of the page).
I have struggled for years with how to define my Christian faith- every non-believer and scalawag wants some kind of definition because they have at the ready a putdown or a meme they think will discredit what I have stated. Being the contrarian that I am I have now started to state: “Christian faith is action taken upon established truth.” That makes it a little more difficult to respond on their part.
The definition implies that something had to have actually happened in history that made the first believers engage in actionable behavior. Individuals who lived in the Middle East around 15 to 50 AD saw events, talked about them, and listened to others proclaim the miracles that Jesus performed and his resurrection. They heard him, they saw him, and they may have participated in many of the events. They believed it was reasonable to trust Him regarding all that He said about eternity. Trusting in feelings or what others believe is why so many people are led astray. The Christian faith is not an exercise in imagination. It is based on real historical events that were seen and reported by eyewitnesses. And that is just part of the overall proofs of His existence.
If any belief about God is false, then all the faith in the world will not make it true. Many individuals claim that people do not rise from the dead and miracles are not possible. Because of that, a Christian’s faith must be in vain. If the facts say God does exist, you cannot rule out miracles, including the resurrection. Most non-believers will have stopped reading by now, I hope they at least understood something of what I have written. The next step in trying to obtain objective truth is to examine the scientific facts to see if God exists.
Part three coming soon.
We want to know if the facts say that God exists and the Bible is true, once and for all. To do so, we must be willing to consider the evidence in an honest and impartial manner.