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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Major Updates at Monergism.com | Main | Jesus in China »

    Evangelical Christians "more tolerant" than Previously Thought

    Yesterday I read a very discouraging (but not surprising) article by Time Magazine online which, frankly, made my heart a little heavy for the rest of the day. It says that 57% of those who attend evangelical churches now say they believe that adherents of non-Christian religions might also be saved. Time writes:

    Americans of every religious stripe are considerably more tolerant of the beliefs of others than most of us might have assumed, according to a new poll released Monday. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life last year surveyed 35,000 American, and found that 70% of respondents agreed with the statement "Many religions can lead to eternal life." Even more remarkable was the fact that 57% of Evangelical Christians were willing to accept that theirs might not be the only path to salvation, since most Christians historically have embraced the words of Jesus, in the Gospel of John, that "no one comes to the Father except through me." Even as mainline churches had become more tolerant, the exclusivity of Christianity's path to heaven has long been one of the Evangelicals' fundamental tenets. The new poll suggests a major shift, at least in the pews. Read more...
    Comments: The first reason to be sad, of course, is to see so many so-called brother and sisters have no real comprehension of the necessity of good news of the gospel. That there is no hope save in the mercy of Jesus Christ alone. I wonder: do they expect that God will be unjust and simply waive his hand at all the flagrant rebellion we all have committed against Him each day? How is it that people, especially evangelicals, cannot not see the seriousness of our situation here on earth? We all, including me, have no hope unless God provides a Savior. No amount of moral exertion that I can do will make a difference. My so-called contribution of goodness woefully falls short of what God requires. If 57% of Evangelicals believe there are other ways to God then, by default, they are rejecting the necessity of Christ and, in turn, believing in their own inherent goodness and moral ability. Nothing less than self-justification. As a result how can they, in good conscience, any longer call themselves Christians? What is distinctively Christian about it any longer? Is it because they are moral people? Well, people from many religions and backgrounds believe we must be moral. But that has very little to do with Christianity since God's Law only reveals our true spiritually bankrupt condition. Yeah if you are perfect you don't need a Savior but I don't run into perfectly holy people very often, do you? We don't need moral improvement but an entirely new person. It is my contention that most people prefer to avoid this bad news so they create false gospels that appeal to their self-righteousness. Don't we all have a tendency to do this? It’s in our nature. But we must face the reality about ourselves as humans. I mean, anyone who believes that God will accept them into His presence based on their own merit must think of pretty highly of themselves, no? Perhaps "tolerance" has finally become the norm for evangelicals and frankly, this news shows the church is in just as bad of shape as the Roman Catholic Church during the middle ages.

    Secondly, these journalists who write these articles are usually pretty good with words, but they have mangled the word "tolerance" to a degree that is unrecognizable. The first sentence says, "Americans of every religious stripe are considerably more tolerant of the beliefs of others than most of us might have assumed". If one were to use the word "tolerance" correctly it would mean that you would affirm that while you stridently disagree with another persons' belief, yet you would defend that persons' right to hold that belief, without using some coercive force to change him. It means liberty of conscience. But the way these reporters are using the term makes tolerance itself into a dogma. That is, you HAVE TO believe that all religions are equally right, or you are a bigot. The very writing of such articles produces a social pressure to conform. What amazes me about this kind of system of belief is that, in the very assertions they make, they are doing the very thing they despise. Lets ask ourselves, is not believing that all religions are true every bit as much a dogma as believing one is true? Both say the other is wrong. Both are equally exclusionary. Both have affirmations and denials and a missionary force. There is one major difference worth noting however. One admits to being exclusive while the other pretends it is neutral. The most dangerous kind of people, I believe, are those who would exert power over others believing they are neutral - because they can pretend to have no agenda. There is no greater blindness than to think oneself above certain and dogmatic opinions. We all have them so this self-deception is not much unlike like the late John Lennon's song "imagine". If you think about it, the lyrics to that song ask us to commit intellectual genocide. "imagine no hell below us ... no heaven, Imagine no religion, imagine all the people living life in peace." We could easily exchange that last line to say, "imagine ... all.. the people, thinking ... JUST LIKE ME" ...for in effect this is what he was communicating. In other words, "If everyone just threw away their beliefs and adopted mine, then we would all be ok and we would have world peace". Not a very encouraging thought. While it may seem counterintuitive on the surface, this song is really one of the more intolerant ever written. John Lennon, without a doubt, was one of the most talented people who ever lived. His music benefitted his hearers immensely but this philosophical position he took is leading a generation to intellectual (not to mention spiritual) suicide.

    Posted by John on June 24, 2008 12:13 PM

    Comments

    John,

    I have not finished my reading of the survey, but I suspect that we need to dig a little deeper to find what this report is really telling us.

    It is no secret that relativism and pluralism have infected the church.

    But look what I found. In asking respondents if they believed in God, they posed the question this way:

    Question wording: Do you believe in God or a universal spirit? [IF YES, ASK:] How certain are you about this belief? Are you absolutely certain, fairly certain, not too certain, or not at all certain?

    The wording of this question would lump a born again Christian together with a Buddhist.

    I must confess that I have been scratching my head on why they would word the question in this manner.

    It will be interesting to see what else lies below the surface of this report.

    Two comments, one for each of the original applications.

    For the 57% of Evangelicals to stop calling themselves Christian as a result of saying that there is more than one way to God would require deeper thinking than I usually see in the majority of Evangelicals (sadly). I earnestly HOPE that, confronted with the implications of their answer, most of that 57% would be apalled and recant. Possibly they were thinking of different denominations?

    Secondly, I honestly believe that journalists and other "tolerance"-evangelists are willfully twisting the meaning of the word. As the first commenter noted the questions in the poll are willfully confusing.

    I don't have much to add -- except that John Lennon wasn't even the most talented songwriter in his own band. Paul and, for the little he wrote, George, wrote much better songs. "I am the walrus?" Please.

    OK, there, I said it. Back to important stuff.

    If there is even 'one grain of truth' in that article, then 1 Timothy 4:1 (In the last days some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.), and the church is most assuredly moving further and further away from God and His Word.
    I pray that this people who say that they love God/Jesus and their Word, return to their 'first' love which is Jesus Christ before it's too late.
    Jesus 'is' coming and it wouldn't surprise me that it will end up being 'much sooner' than we could actually realize.
    May God have mercy on our souls.

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