Christianity 201

November 15, 2021

Deleted Devotional

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , , ,

But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:6 NLT

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” – Mark 9:42 NKJV

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. – Luke 17:1-2 NIV

He said to his disciples, “Hard trials and temptations are bound to come, but too bad for whoever brings them on! Better to wear a concrete vest and take a swim with the fishes than give even one of these dear little ones a hard time! – same Luke passage, The Message.



While writing original material takes some time, the more frequently-used daily “beg, borrow and steal” approach actually involves just as much, as posts from other sites have to re-formatted for what we do here, including the trademark placing of scripture verses in green.

So I was already 15 minutes invested in a post planned for yesterday when I realized I simply couldn’t present it. The writer had used a quotation originating with another faith group (a religion whose name you would recognize) and while that in and of itself is not grounds for rejecting it, a closer look at the writer’s work made the choice obvious.

But as I say, it was a process. In my mind I had gone from
“this is a really creative illustration”
“this is really edgy for us here at C201”
“I wonder if our readers are all on-board for this”
“This is a really, really bad idea.”

Now, some of you will say, ‘If you liked the writer’s material; why not do what you always do and just choose a different article?’

The problem was that this writer was clearly a universalist in his theology. A universalist is someone who believes that many (if not all) of the major religions of the world offer equally valid pathways to God.

However, the writer operated within the framework of being in vocational ministry as a ‘Christian’ pastor.

In other words, if I were to say to you, ‘I believe there are many ways to God,’ that would be one thing; you know where I stand.

But if I say, ‘I am a the lead pastor of XYZ Christian Church,’ but then you find out in talking to me or reading things I’ve written over an extended period of time that I see Christianity as simply one of many expressions of means of salvation; then you would have every right to be upset with me for either (a) not stating my beliefs up front, or (b) perhaps ‘using’ Christian employment as a means of income when in fact my beliefs were not centered on this historic claims of Jesus, or the core doctrines of his followers as outlined in scripture.

I would argue that there’s some dishonesty implicit in that situation, but I would also remind you that much discernment is needed.

Unfortunately, stories of such people employed in vocational Christian ministry but denying the exclusive claims of Jesus are all too common. Some of these people start out very orthodox, but allow themselves to fall into a more liberal reading of scripture texts, or perhaps, because advanced scholarship and higher criticism (rightfully) points out areas where we’ve misinterpreted key passages, they then proceed to call everything into question…

…Sometime, perhaps a month from now or several months from now, I may indeed highlight an author who borrows a quotation from another religion’s literature. There’s nothing wrong with that if the illustration or principle is being properly used in connection with the Bible-based teaching that’s being advanced. However, there are other times alarm bells start to sound and you know that you’re crossing a line.

In this case, the decision began with reading the quote out loud to Ruth, who was working at the computer next to mine, and then discussing it further. (There is value in ministry partnerships; even informal ones.) I also realized in writing the introduction (that you never got to read!) that rather than explaining the writer’s use of the quote, I was trying to justify it, and that, combined with doing some simple online research into their ministry left no doubt that I was dealing with a devotional that readers here will never get to see.


Something positive to end with:

Directly adjacent to two of the parallel accounts of Jesus saying the words which form our theme today, there are some contrasting positives:

If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded. – Mark 9:41 NLT

“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. Matthew 18:5 NLT

August 16, 2017

Can People Be Saved via Other Religions?

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Today we’re paying a return visit to the website and an article on a subject sometimes called universalism. Note that the end there are links to other articles in a series on this topic, including one pertaining to the eternal destiny of those who have never heard; who have never been evangelized. You may land the plane differently on these issues, but the view presented is the one which has served Evangelical Christianity well for nearly all of its history. Click the title below to read at source:

What is Inclusivism?

Inclusivism is a view that includes all religions in God’s plan of salvation. Inclusivism is “inclusive” (hence the name) of all religions in salvation and says that a person can be saved regardless of his or her faith and/or religious practice.

Both a Buddhist and Hindu can be saved in this view — regardless of the fact that they believe in different things and hold to different views about man and the world.

Inclusivism is a view that is in contrast to exclusivism. If inclusivism means to include religions, then exclusivism is a doctrine that excludes religions or faiths. Christians who hold to exclusivism believe that one must assent to the teachings of Christ and believe that He is God and the way to eternal life if they hope to be saved.

Christians who hold to this view also disagree with all other religions and argue that a Buddhist and a Mormon, for instance, cannot be saved as adherents of their faiths; rather, the Mormon and Buddhist must turn to Christianity and Jesus in order to find salvation.

As usual, Christians want to know: Is there biblical evidence for inclusivism?

  1. That is, can people be saved by way of religions other than Christianity?
  2. Can an individual be saved through his or her belief in Buddha, Brigham Young, or some other god (Confucius, etc.)?

The Bible states unequivocally that one can only experience God’s salvation through faith in Christ, as can be demonstrated by the following passages:

  1. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NASB).
  2. “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
  3. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).
  4. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:18).
  5. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn. 5:24).
  6. “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me” (Jn. 5:46).
  7. “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal” (Jn. 6:27).
  8. “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (Jn. 6: 29).
  9. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (Jn. 6:40).
  10. “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (Jn. 10:9).
  11. “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor Him” (Jn. 12:26).
  12. “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am” (Jn. 13:13).
  13. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn. 14:6).
  14. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn. 17:3).
  15. In all these verses, it is Jesus who is to be believed in, whose name humans are to believe in so that they can experience God’s salvation. John 3:18 says that judgment awaits the one who does not believe on the name of Jesus, God’s “one and only begotten Son.” In other words, there is only one whose name we must believe in to be saved — that is, the name of Jesus. This is the same message Peter proclaims while preaching publicly:
  16. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

First, notice that salvation comes through “no one else,” that “there is no other name under heaven” that can save humanity.

Peter’s words seem to exclude the possibility that God’s salvation can come through the names of Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, or some other human that mankind has elevated throughout world history. Peter’s statement does not so much as entertain the idea that mankind can be saved through the names of others who are not Jesus Christ.

Although inclusivism seems to be an intellectually acceptable position, it does not have biblical support. If one can only be saved by confessing the name of Jesus and following His teachings (Christianity, cf. Luke 14:26-27), then one cannot be labeled a follower of Jesus while practicing Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Mormonism, Hinduism, or the Muslim faiths.

If inclusivism lacks biblical support, the next question is as follows: Can Someone Turn Receptive to Christ by Way of General Revelation? Inclusivists also hold to general revelation as a source of conversion, but as will be shown in the article, General Revelation is Inadequate for Salvation.

August 22, 2011

Wishing Hell Wasn’t So Doesn’t Change the Bible

First, Radical author and pastor David Platt.  This was filmed in India as things were heating up in the U.S. over the publication of Rob Bell’s Love Wins, though I should add that Bell doesn’t clearly state some of the things he is being associated with.  Nonetheless, this is worthy of viewing:

Did you note the difference between “intellectual universalism” and “functional universalism.”

Next, Hell is Real But I Hate to Admit It author and pastor Brian Jones. The book is releasing in the next few days.  I wonder sometimes if perhaps there is a degree to which an understanding — perhaps an acceptance — of the doctrine of hell is mark of spiritual maturity; while at the same time others believe that a rejection of the doctrine of hell is some kind of mark of spiritual sophistication.  This video was directed to pastors, but there doesn’t seem to be a general book trailer.  You can read my review of the book here.