Truth, Christianity, and Religion

I received a wonderful email from a professing Christian last week. Her questions and objections concerning Christianity are extremely common today, largely because many churches are apostate and also because few teach anything about absolute truth, church history, end-time events, and Christian apologetics, let alone refute moral relativism and secular humanism. I hope my open response will give you folks some ammo.

Sean, I read your article: “What is Truth?”, but it is disturbing to see how many Christians in the past changed and corrupted the truth to do all kinds of evil in the name of God. Just look at the Salem witch trials, the Christian Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition. Doesn’t that prove that Christianity isn’t much better then any other religion?

No, because moral truths cannot be corrupted or changed by any man. Remember truth is “never” based on an individual’s or group’s, beliefs or feelings. Truth is universal, exclusive, and revealed. If something is “true” it applies to everyone, whether they like it or not, or even believe it or not. What some so-called Christians have done in the past has no bearing whatsoever on what is morally right or wrong, or which faith is true.

Since God gave man a free will, anyone can claim to be doing God’s will and then start murdering and raping people. But does that change the “truth” that murdering and raping people is evil? No. It doesn’t matter where a person is born, what religion they practice, or what they personally think or feel. Murder and rape is always wrong anywhere, anytime, by anyone. All moral truths are absolute and never change because God never changes. Morality is simply a reflection of God’s person, character, and nature. Jesus gave a very stern warning about people who would do evil in His name though:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” – Matthew 7:21-23

That said, I think you should put Christianity into historical context. It is an historical fact that most modern hospitals, missions, homeless shelters, colleges, charities, and orphanages were founded by Christians. And the atrocities committed by Christians in the last 2,000 years is extremely overblown. Do you know how many witches were murdered in Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693? Twenty. And they were not burnt at the stake, they were hung (well, one was crushed). Twenty people too many, but still only twenty.

The monstrous evils committed during the Crusades is also largely myth. The Crusades were not acts of unprovoked aggression by Europe against the Islamic world, but were a delayed response to centuries of extreme Muslim aggression and conquest, which grew fiercer then ever in the eleventh century. By modern warfare standards, the armies and the number of innocents killed was quite small.

The 350 year long Spanish Inquisition (while certainly evil) is also completely overblown. Compare the 2,500 who were wrongly executed with the 130 million civilians murdered or starved to death by their own atheistic National Socialist (Nazi) and Communist governments in the 20th century alone. All the evil done in the name of Christ in 2,000 years is a speck of dust compared to the humanist Marxist/Leninist purges of Hitler, Mao Tse-Tung, Pol Pot, and Stalin.

I agree with your article “Which Religion is the Right One?” that all Christian denominations and churches are flawed. Each denomination just makes up it’s own  man-made religious rituals, and when there is a major disagreement within the church, people just break off and create a new denomination or church.

I agree that every Christian denomination and church is flawed. But, obviously not all “religious rituals” were invented by men. For instance, all the Old Testament religious practices and Jewish holy days were given to Moses directly from God. Likewise, Baptism, Communion, and singing hymns is also Biblical. The problem is that man has a fallen sin nature, so we naturally would rather do things our own way rather then God’s. Many Christian denominations and churches are extremely far removed from the Bible which should be their primary authority and guide, rather then what sinful man desires to believe or practice on a whim. That said, some denominations and churches are far less flawed then others and all Christians are still supposed to seek out a good Bible believing church or group of fellow believers to worship the true God.

My husband is Catholic and I was raised a Protestant. We currently attend a Catholic church and our young  daughter is going through First Communion, which is a sacrament that I cannot be completely involved in, nor can I even take communion at our church because I am not a Catholic. I don’t think I want to convert either. I do believe in having a personal relationship with God, but that is not what Catholics believe. The church is their community, and they reach God through this community and the Pope.

To take communion myself I would have to be formally accepted into their community and it seems like a pretty hokey process to me. But it’s strange to not be a part of something that my daughter will soon be a part of. This is a big question mark in my life right now. Don’t we believe in one God, the same God, and that Jesus is our Savior?

Not necessarily. Many Catholics wrongly worship and pray to Mary. Find me a single verse in the Bible that says anyone should do that? Many Catholics (like many Protestants) also do not believe Jesus is “really” their personal Savior, since they wrongly believe that they still have to work their way to heaven. I admit, your current situation to either join or not join the Catholic church is a tough one. But, the Bible is clear concerning salvation, nobody is saved by joining a church and doing works, rituals, and sacraments:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

As for needing the Pope and a “community” to reach God, that is also completely un-Biblical. The Bible says Jesus Christ alone is our High Priest:

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16

This is why I encourage people to read the Bible, because much that is taught in churches today is just plain wrong. Growing up, I attended a Lutheran church. In my early teens I went to a week long Vacation Bible School and the head pastor pretended to be Jesus and did an exercise in which he separated the sheep from the goats. One by one he took us aside and asked, “Why should I allow you to enter Heaven?”

We each answered him and he told us to go stand off to the left or the right depending on our answer. When my turn came up. I said, “I should go to heaven because I’m a good kid. Right?” Finally he had us all sit down. And someone asked the question that was burning in my mind, “Which side is right? What is the correct answer? Who is going to heaven and who is going to hell?” And the pastor simply shrugged and replied, “I don’t know.”

I was like, “Why the heck am I listening to this moron when he knows absolutely nothing!!!” This pastor with all his experience and training didn’t even know the answer to the most basic and simplistic question in all of Christianity! That is why we must each read the Bible ourselves. Many (but not all) popes and pastors today are ignorant. A person cannot be saved by simply being good, because God’s nature requires absolute perfect holiness. Only Jesus has lived a sinless life. Only by accepting His free gift of pardon can anyone be saved. The Old Testament saints were also only saved by faith in the promised Messiah and Redeemer. The oldest book in the Bible is Job. Notice Job’s great faith in the future Christ!:

“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!” – Job 19:25-27

Likewise, Abraham was saved by faith. He believed God alone would keep all His promises:

“What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’

“Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” – Romans 4: 3-5

The Apostle Paul writes:

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” – Romans 10:9-13

Ask yourself this: “Am I saved? Have I called upon the name of the Lord? Have I accepted Jesus’ pardon that He purchased for me? Have I placed my faith in Him alone to save me?”

If you sincerely answered “Yes.”, then according to the Bible you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and have inherited eternal life and will go to Heaven when you die, no matter what. A saved person can say with confidence, “According to the Bible, I am saved because Jesus is my personal Savior!”

Some Catholics will give this answer too. But most (like the Pope, the late Mother Teresa, and probably most Protestants for that matter) will say, “Well, I certainly hope so… I try to be a good person.” That my friend, is not a saving faith in Christ.  This is nothing new. Jesus scolded the religious leaders of His day for being blind as bats. Read Matthew 23 in its entirety sometime if you want to hear Jesus’ blood boil as He rips into them. Here is just one line:

“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” – Matthew 23:33

Whether you join the Catholic Church is up to you. Just keep in mind, much of what they say is not Biblical, and most of the man-made rituals they have you do are just that — man-made rituals. But, better to join a flawed Catholic Church and still worship the true God (but not Mary) then to become a Mormon, Buddhist, Pagan, New Ager, Muslim, or Hindu.

I even have a friend who is a devout Catholic, but one parent is Catholic and the other is an atheist. She studied theology and taught morality and ethics in a Catholic school. Yet she doesn’t believe in heaven (because of her mom). It’s a little disturbing to me.

Good grief…. Again, yet another person who needs to read the Bible and seek the truth instead of following their own emotions and feelings. Ask her, “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross if there is no heaven or hell? And where is Jesus now if He is not in Heaven? Was Jesus lying to his disciples? Was He lying to the thief on the cross, when Jesus said they would both be in paradise soon?” If Jesus was lying, he must have been either desperately wicked or a deranged lunatic. All Jesus’ disciples (except for one) died painful deaths because they completely believed in Jesus.

Your friend sounds exactly like my old pastor, a devout religious Christian who is just going through the paces, yet has no real personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I guess I do have one major opposing thought concerning your article (“Which Religion is the Right One?”). I’ve tried to reconcile why so many different religions exist by concluding that God has decided to reach people in many different ways. If God is a loving God, then he wants to love all people of all nations – past, present, and future. Jesus died for us all, and therefore could use different religions to reach different people. This is a far-reaching and very forgiving message.

And also a Satanic lie.

Remember, when the adulteress was to be stoned? Jesus said something about “Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone.” He also said we are to “love our neighbor as ourselves”. That means everyone. When people of other religions also claim Jesus to be a prophet, or follow some other prophet or law, isn’t it possible that God is reaching out to them, but just in a different way?

No. because there lived only one historical “Jesus Christ”. He alone is the only begotten Son of God. Many religions claim to follow a “Jesus”, but he is not the historical Jesus. Mormons believe Jesus is the brother of Satan. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is the created archangel Michael, Muslims believe Jesus was only a man (therefore a liar), etc.

I think you are trying to reconcile what you “perceive” to be inconsistencies with God’s character when none exist. The God of the Bible never changes, He has many unchangeable attributes. For instance, He is perfectly good, loving, just, holy, wise, righteous, faithful, merciful, truthful, long-suffering (meaning: His righteous anger is slow to be kindled), jealous (meaning: He is not willing to share his throne with any false gods), and wrathful (meaning: He hates all unrighteousness). One thing you need to understand is God cannot compromise even one of His divine attributes at the expense of another. He is always absolutely good, just, and holy. For example, God “loves” the sinner, but still “hates” their sins. That is perfectly in character with God. The adulteress in John chapter 8 is a great example of the fact that:

“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” – John 3:17

But, while Jesus did not condemn her, He did not give her a free pass to sin either. Jesus told her: “Go and sin no more.” – John 8:11

All sin must be judged and the penalty must be paid for in full. That is because God’s standard is perfect holiness. Every person on earth today is in one of two categories. They are either under God’s divine grace or under God’s divine wrath:

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” – John 3:36

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” – John 3:18

When Jesus was on the cross, God’s wrath was poured out on Him, so that many sinners could be saved. God loves us so much! But don’t kid yourself, those who “refuse” the pardon that Jesus purchased on the cross must be judged for their sins. Without the pardon, their sins are not covered. On Judgment Day, their good deeds and their bad deeds will be measured against God’s standard of absolute perfect holiness and they will all be found guilty.

Also understand, Almighty God is a gentleman, He will never “force” anyone to love Him or do anything against their will. That includes accepting His pardon. If a person foolishly does not want the pardon, it’s their own choice. God has been perfectly good, loving, merciful, faithful, truthful, just, holy, wise, righteous, and long-suffering with them. If everyone is universally saved as many suggest, then they too make Jesus a liar, because He commanded all Christians to spread the gospel (the great commission) so more sinners could be saved. And the Apostle Paul was also deceived when he wrote:

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’

“But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:14-17

God has made it the Christian’s duty to spread the good news. But even if a person doesn’t hear the gospel, the Bible still says all men are without excuse:

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” – Roman:1-20

But God also promises that those who truly seek Him will find Him. God will provide a way to get the true gospel of Jesus Christ to them and not some man-made false religion:

“…Seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” – Deuteronomy 4:29

You know, who are we to judge other religions? I mean, the Bible clearly says “Judge not, lest you be Judged.”

Matthew 7:1 is the most misused and abused verse in the entire Bible, seconded only by “Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone.” Both are used by liberals and humanists to shame and silence Christians so we won’t boldly take a stand publicly against gross immorality and proclaim the truth.

“Judge not, lest you be Judged” when read in context (Matthew 7:1-6), does not say that Christians should NOT judge, but rather WHEN we judge we should do so righteously. When you say, “Who are we to judge?”, you are actually making an unrighteous judgment against me and every other Christian, because the Bible clearly says over and over again that Christians should be discerning, judge righteously, and proclaim the truth:

“Do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!” – 1 Corinthians 6:2-3

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” – John 7:24

For some, having a Savior is a wonderful message. But when Christians such as us claim that a person must accept Jesus to get to heaven, won’t others see it as us condemned them as well as all the other religions?

You bet, and  so what? It’s just the hard truth. Would you rather follow Jesus Christ and the Bible or sinful man? It’s the non-believer’s choice to become offended at the true gospel and reject Jesus Christ, or do the wise thing, seek the truth, and be saved. Jesus said:

“I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6

Catholics are famous for preaching that if you are not Catholic you will burn in hell (that includes myself who is a Protestant). Isn’t that crazy?

The Bible says otherwise, so I could care less. That particular Catholic doctrine is just wrong. Many Protestants also wrongly claim that all Catholics are going to hell. Again, the Bible says otherwise. It is the people who do not accept Christ as their Lord and Savior who are going to hell. Not to poke fun at Catholics, but there was once a bumper sticker that said, “Catholics were the first Christians!” My reply, “No they weren’t. The first Christians were Jews!”

Does God really make it that confusing for people?

No. But sinful man and Satan sure do. Thankfully the Bible is clear.

Or does God want to accept all people?

Of course He does, but again it’s their choice:

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9

Most religions are exclusionary in some way. And many contradict one another. However, they all do have some scripture or book with moral lessons and practices. Doesn’t God just want people to get along and help each other? But no, that must not be it. Because everyone is fighting and everyone thinks they are right.

Adam and Eve rebelled against God and this world has been cursed ever since. This sinful world is in near total rebellion against God. But, you can’t blame God for what sinful man does. Besides, all false religions are easily proven false because they are all man-made. Most either create their own fake deity or deities, or worship the creation rather then the Creator.

Only Biblical Christianity and placing one’s faith in Jesus stands careful scrutiny, because it is the only faith that is based on historically proven facts and absolute truth. Biblical Christianity is not a blind faith. Rather, it is a rational faith. All false religions are irrational and require blind faith. Take atheism, they believe that everything that exists came from nothing. But nothing is the one thing we definitely know cannot possibly exist. If nothing existed it would be something! So, how can anything at all come from nothing, let alone everything?! How irrational and insane is that?! All the other false religions are in the same boat and easily torn apart. Where is their proof and evidence of eternal life, reincarnation, or whatever?

The bones of Muhammad are still in Medina, the bones of Confucius are still in Shantung, the cremated bones of Buddha are still in Nepal. Jesus on the other hand, boldly claimed that He was the Creator of the Universe. He alone lived a sinless life, performed miracles, literally fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies, was crucified, and three days later rose from the dead, exactly as He said he would!

Even the 1st and 2nd century secular (pagan) historical accounts attest to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus! Edwin Yamauchi, professor of history at the University of Miami, asserts (and I think he is being extremely conservative) that:

We have more and better historical documentation for Jesus than any other religious founder (eg, Zoroaster, Buddha or Mohammed). Of the non-biblical sources testifying of the Christ, Yamauchi concludes:

Even if we did not have the New Testament Christian writings, we would be able to conclude from such non-Christian writings as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger that:

(1) Jesus was a Jewish teacher; (2) Many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; (3) He was rejected by the Jewish leaders; (4) He was crucified under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberias; (5) despite his shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by A.D. 64 AD; (6) all kinds of people from the cities and countryside – men and women, slave and free – worshiped him as God by the beginning of the second century. – (Yamauchi, JUF, 221, 222)

I often wonder, if Jesus came back to earth, would I know him and believe? For instance, what if he comes back as a woman? Why not? It’s possible isn’t it?

No, because there are no physicians in Heaven performing sex change operations on God’s only begotten Son!

I think the Second Coming will be something completely unexpected. I don’t know. How can anyone know? Will it be a great light? Or maybe a feeling? When Jesus came the first time, he was an outcast, jeered at and rejected by even the “holy” Jewish religious leaders of his day.

In Jesus’ first advent, Jesus came as a sacrificial lamb, but in His second advent, He will return in wrath and in incredible might, power, and glory as the “King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!”

Jesus already told this fallen world exactly what to expect:

“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.

“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” – Matthew 24:21-27

In other words, nobody who is left alive on this earth at the end of the seven year Tribulation period, which is an outpouring of God’s wrath on this Christ rejecting world, will possibly miss Jesus’ Second Coming.

The good news is everyone who has accepted God’s free gift of pardon is under God’s grace and not under His wrath. So, they will never have to endure the outpouring of God’s wrath upon them. The Apostle Paul writes:

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.  But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

“…you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I [Jesus] also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” – Revelation 3:10

The Bible says, the Christ “accepting” world (the Body of Christ) will be caught up (i.e, raptured) to heaven to be with Jesus forever, before the  outpouring of God’s wrath begins on this earth:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

I have already written quite a bit about the Second Coming and the Rapture indirectly. If you want to know more read: “Using the Law of Contradiction with Scripture and “The Literal Interpretation of Scripture.”

Well, that was a great email with good questions. Never feel intimidated by questions concerning the Bible. Someone once wisely wrote:

“You don’t need to defend a Lion. You just need to let him out of his cage”

Have a blessed day!

Sean

Sean Kirkpatrick posted at 2011-11-28 Category: How to Answer Critics