Should Christians Learn About Other Religions?

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Co-Existing In Richmond VA

Co-Existing In Richmond VA

A good friend of mine recently gave me a book by Derek Morris called the Radical Prayer of God.  In this tiny, 100 page hard cover, the author invites readers to consider joining the Lord in the harvest of His work.  He urges us to move forward boldly, regardless of our immature Christian status.  Well, I’ve decided I sincerely want to be a part of the harvest.

I have never really been an openly religious person.  I’ve shared my love of Christ with my close friends and family but certainly not in an open forum for all the world to judge, *ahem* I mean see.  So, as anyone can imagine, I’ve received some interesting input from the peanut gallery about my decision to take on this blog

The comments have been ranging from “Be careful at that mosque,” “I’m concerned about your journey” and “your blog is kinda cultish” to the more lighthearted comments such as “you’re blog is beautiful” and “you make me want to feel God’s love more fully in my everyday life” and “you can see the Lord at work when you read your words.” 

I’ll give you a guess which ones I prefer hearing.  But it’s not about what I prefer.  It’s about what God is calling me to do.  Recently, I was asked to stop exploring different religions on 52 prayers, and instead, pick a church that teaches from the Bible. 

I’d actually toyed with this idea myself.  I thought about leaving the Jehovah Witnesses on my stoop next week and telling them “sorry, the New World Translation is bunk.  If you have to make the Bible say what you want it to, I’m not interested.”  But for some reason, God is urging me to continue.  I keep being reminded that Christ ate with sinners, he loved Samaritans, and he hung around with the blind, sick, and lame….so why should I only pal around with the saved?  If there is something I can share with the “lost”, am I not working on behalf of God, gathering a richer harvest to glorify Him?

Well, since I do understand where my loving, concerned fellow Christ followers are coming from, I decided to really give some thought to their requests and here’s what I’ve come up with:  If God’s Word is readily on my lips, I’m not afraid.

I’ve been calling out to God for understanding and while I know that my mission is a unique one, God is asking me to continue while being cautiously open.

I’m also going to stick to the commitment I made on Day 1 of this project:  http://52prayers.com/index.php/post/its-a-new-day/

“I’m leaving this project up to God. He can be as flexible as He wants when deciding how it takes shape. I have full FAITH that however it works out, it will be His will….At the risk of sounding TOTALLY cliched...this project feels.... Purposeful.”

I am going to continue to leave this up to Him and follow his example.

"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:13)

I believe in my heart that I am joining the Lord in the harvest of His work through this project.  I’m not sure which mosque, synagogue, church or tantra workshop is going to be the one that God is preparing me for, but I believe that I’m being sharpened like an instrument to spread the awesomeness of God’s Word.   Yeah, I said awesomeness!

Who knows, maybe I just need to continue learning about other religions and the intentions of the people who are teaching me about their faiths so I can appreciate more fully why Jesus had to come in the first place?  Or maybe there's something in a different religion that makes God's Word clearer to me.  I mean, stranger things have happened right?  Whatever the reason, I’ve got 6 more months to go.

 

 

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20 Comments

  • Tony York

    Tony York July 06, 2010

    To answer the question you put before us in the title of this post, Yes.

    But.  With care. 

    Paul shows us an example of his knowledge of other religions when he stands on Mars Hill and preaches on the idol to the Unknown god. 

    He knew of their beliefs but he held their beliefs up against the gospel of Christ.  We should have a strong grasp and understanding of our world view in order that we can understand where other belief systems clash with truth.

    I have studied other religions in order to have a place from which to start a conversation.  It is the basis for demonstrating respect even when there will come a time that we will disagree.  It is not about proving someone else wrong.. but instead of pointing them to the truth.

  • Jessica

    Jessica July 06, 2010

    Thanks for the comment, Tony.  “But with care”  This is how I am being led.  When talking to my brother (a studying seminary student) about this topic he said, “there’s a difference between speaking to non-Christians about their faith and letting non-Christians speak into your life about their faith.” My first reaction is what the heck are you talking about? But then it really resonated with me.  He meant that it’s quite different to learn about other people’s ideas about God, it’s quite another to let their ideas influence your life if they don’t match up to what you already know about Christ. Speak to them, but don’t have them speak into your life and influence your behavior.  I don’t know…it made sense to me:)

  • Zee

    Zee July 08, 2010

    Wow, funny how in one day I saw that U2 Coexist picture twice (have never seen it before)

    I think that your journey is a blessed one because (don’t remember if I mentioned this already before) people have been looking for God since the beginning (well, after Adam) and the atheism never was dominant. I believe that our God is the true God and the only God. I tend not to trust religions that don’t have a God or gods because it seems silly to me not to believe that there’s someone waaay more intelligent than us, but religions that have gods or God - they all are about one God… Even if I still stick to the Judeo-Christian view of Him. So by learning what other pekoe think, you get to experience more of our God’s traits that maybe we, as Christians, have forgotten about.

    IMHO.

  • Jessica

    Jessica July 08, 2010

    Wow, Zee.  I think that’s an awesome way to look at it. I think I learned something about my relationship with God while I was in the mosque.  Seeing how the Muslims approach Allah made me take a strong look at how I pray.  Of course I have a loving and personal God who encourages me to talk to him like a friend, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t fall to my knees in child-like submission once and a while.  Watching them pray with their faces to the ground opened my eyes a bit. I realized while it’s totally okay to talk to God while riding in the car with the windows down, there’s something special about praying to Him in a humbling way too.

  • Brett Barner

    Brett Barner July 08, 2010

    I agree with Tony on the “Yes, but with care”. I think it’s important to understand others. People want to know what the differences are and why they are important.

  • Tony York

    Tony York July 08, 2010

    Something weird happened.. I saw your new post on the Law and was going to comment on it and then it disappeared.

    It was a great post and I had some thoughts concerning the 2 dimensionality versus the 3 dimensionality of knowing God.

    In Psalm 119, David drives the point about getting to the 3 dimensionality by being taught ‘the meaning behind God’s statutes’.

    He didn’t just want to know the letter of the law (2 dimension or flat), he wanted to know why the law existed (3 dimensions - alive).

    We are given the law in part to understand God’s character.  He didn’t say don’t steal because it hurt other people but because it called into question His ability to be providential in our lives.  When we steal we question God’s ability to take care of us. We miss out on seeing His hand in our lives.  By understanding this, we focus on what God is doing in our lives instead of what we are ‘not allowed to do’.  That creates a basis for obedience through love and respect.

    Peace.

  • Scott

    Scott July 11, 2010

    Jessica said: I keep being reminded that Christ ate with sinners, he loved Samaritans, and he hung around with the blind, sick, and lame….so why should I only pal around with the saved? 

    Jesus Christ did spend time and ate dinner with the tax collectors, harlots, etc… however, He did not go to their houses of worship.

    And who did He spend the majority of His time with? His disciples.

  • Jessica

    Jessica July 11, 2010

    Touche’, Scott.

    As I mentioned earlier, you certainly make a good argument for not going to other houses of worship.

    With that being said, I do spend most of my time with God’s “disciples” as you can see from the amount of Christian church’s I attend in comparison to the other religions.  But I do understand why it’s so critical to be around a body of believers.

  • Scott

    Scott July 12, 2010

    Jessica,
    Just because a group of people call themselves “Christian” does not mean they are. And assembling with a different group each week does not allow you the opportunity for true fellowship with believers in Jesus Christ.

    Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)  (24)  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  (25)  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

    I have not read every posting, but I have yet to read where you have left a Gospel tract with someone of a non-Christian belief or witnessed to them about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Maybe you have and I have not read it yet.

    James 1:13-18 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:  (14)  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  (15)  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.  (16)  Do not err, my beloved brethren.  (17)  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  (18)  Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

    If you want to learn more about worship, look at the life of Moses—look at his reaction to conflict in Numbers 16. Look at the Apostle John’s reaction when he sees Jesus Christ in Revelation chapter 1.
    Solomon was given wisdom to rule the kingdom God gave him, yet he still married 700 women and 300 concubines. They brought different religions into Solomon’s life and it drew him further from God. The Book of Ecclesiastes was written by the bitter old Solomon who realized what a waste he made of his life.
    Read through the Old Testament—especially the Historical Books and the Prophets, you see the results when the Israelites intermingle with the pagan nations around them: sin, suffering, and bondage.

    I do not believe that your mission or purpose here is from God.
    James 1:13-16 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:  (14)  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  (15)  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.  (16)  Do not err, my beloved brethren.

  • Jessica

    Jessica July 12, 2010

    Scott,

    You really challenge me. If I was just writing to you I might just say “stop being so judgmental” but since so many other people read this blog, I feel as though I want to explain myself.

    I think you make valid points.  If I was waking up each morning and bowing down to my shrine and then reading the Bible I might see where you’re coming from.  But I’m not.  I go to these services once.  It’s been 6 months and I’ve only gone to 6 services that aren’t Christian.  Not to mention, you say “just cause they say they are Christian doesn’t mean they are” - Well, yeah.  But who are you (or me) to judge?  If they speak according to the Word of God, is that not Christian?  I mean, no one knows their hearts but God alone.

    As far as going to different Christian church’s weekly:  I spend hours a day studying the Bible with my brother who is a seminary student.  I meet weekly with the same pastor to study Scripture for hours as well.  Not to mention, I have a lot of great insights coming from people like you, Zee, James, Tony, Janice, Dave, etc. that I believe are all faithful followers of Christ.  I think they count for a body of believers. 

    You said:  “I have not read one post where you’ve handed out a Gospel tract” —Not everyone chooses to witness while hanging out on the street corner handing out cheese-ball literature that starts off with, “you’re a filthy sinner” I’m sorry Scott.  We’re not all Baptist and you don’t have the corner on God.  I choose to tell people that I love them NO MATTER WHAT.  I choose to see their loving qualities and identify with them there AND THEN talk to them about the “death, resurrection and salvation” that comes from Jesus Christ.  I don’t approach them and tell them about the burning gates of hell, no.  But I give you some slack here because you’re right.  I don’t talk about my “witnessing” online so you only know what I tell you. 

    Actually, you’ll be happy to hear that just yesterday someone told me that they have NEVER given real consideration to Jesus Christ because every time someone has told her about Him, it’s been such a turn off because they’re so close minded. She told me that she wants to know more about what the Bible says because of my experience with other religions and choosing to still have faith in Christ, even with a knowledge of everything else out there.

    I assume that the Gospel tract she received that started off with “you and everyone you love will burn in hell” just didn’t resonate with her.  And honestly, Scott…I can see why. 

    I’d be happy to email you the comment I received off this blog from a Muslim who said that I made her curious about Jesus Christ’s divinity.  I’d be happy to email you the comment I received from a new Christian that said, “you make me want to read the Bible and not just take everyone’s word for it” I could also send you a list of books I’ve given to my intellectual friends who want to believe the Bible but don’t based on their fear that the Bible isn’t historical accurate. I can share with you how our “reasoning” together has prompted them to start reading Scripture.  If that will somehow make me more worthy please let me know and I’ll be happy to send it right along. 

    You said: “I do not believe that your mission or purpose here is from God.”

    —The cool part about this is that you don’t judge my mission or my purpose; God does.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I appreciate your perspectives, Scott.  I also know you are attempting to stand up for Christ when you tell me I’m sitting down for Him.  I respect that since I know your position comes from a place of love for Christ.  Thank you for doing your best to honor Him.

  • Scott

    Scott July 13, 2010

    Jessica,
    you are very gracious. Others would have by now insulted me and attacked my beliefs. I seriously thank you for your kindness.

    I will point out that I have never stated that everyone should become Baptist, only that people should follow what the Bible says. It is what God has given us so we can know more about Him and love Him and be obedient to Him.

    Second, the tract I prefer to hand out is at this link: http://www.fellowshiptractleague.org/tract_html/english/114/page_flip/114.html

  • Scott

    Scott July 15, 2010

    The problem with the internet and typing is that things do not always come through as intended. I re-read my last post and realized that it could be perceived as being sarcastic.

    That was and is not my goal. Jessica has been very gracious toward me even though I do not agree with her on some things. Others would have deleted the things I have typed or attacked and Jessica has not. Thank you for your respect toward me.

  • Jessica

    Jessica July 15, 2010

    Hi Scott,

    No worries.  I didn’t assume you were being sarcastic:) I appreciate your compliment about my respecting you.  I hope you know by now that I do.

    As I mentioned above, I know that anything you say is said out of love for Christ, who can argue with that!

  • Andrew Pearce

    Andrew Pearce January 19, 2011

    One of the greatest Christian failures is that we tend to seclude ourselves among members of like faith. We feel secure among those who believe like we do. And we often feel intimidated about approaching others with “our message of truth”, which is relative to each person, as each believes they have the truth. We are simply afraid of rejection. As a minister, trying to lead my congregations in effective Christian witness, I have often struggled. At first I was tempted and persuaded to believe that all persons had to witness in the same manner. But I have become convinced that I have erred. Even life as a Church Leader is a growing experience, and if not, we should step down. God has given different Spiritual Gifts, and it is through those gifts that we will best serve Him in increasing His kingdom. All are called to witness, but not all are called to witness in the same method. Not all are given the gift of Preaching. Not all are given the gift of Evangelism. Some are given the gift of helps, and helping people, meeting their needs is truly a very powerful way to bring people to Christ. When they see you loving them, and caring for their needs, they may have to wonder why, or they may already recognize it, that the reason you care with such love is because God has placed His love in your heart, and let me tell you, people are drawn to this, and begin to desire it. We, as a church, are likened to as a body in scripture. Some are the eyes, some are the mouth, they have a gift for speaking the truth, some are hands, they have the gift of helping, etc. As the body all works, and functions together, people who are attracted by the indevidual parts of the body are drawn in and ultimately are effected by all the body working together. My favorite instruction on witnessing methodology comes from the book “Ministry of Healing” It goes like this… “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 143. This is a very effective, and proven method of reaping souls for the Kingdom of God. And if we study the life of Christ, we will see that this truly is the way in which Jesus often worked. He didn’t just give them a bible study! He first mingled with them. This is where we often miss the opportunity to find people to witness to. As He mingled with them, He showed through His actions and words that He was interested in their welfare, He was interested in the chance to help them, and do what was good for them. As He spent time with them, serving them, and showing that He was intent on helping them in life, He paid attention, and sought to understand their needs. It has been said that the greatest definitionof love is meeting the needs of another. Jesus sought to discover what their needs were, and then, when He found out, He went right to work to fulfill their needs. The end result of mingling, befriending, seeking their needs, and then sacrificing Himself to meet their needs, was that He won their confidence! And it was then, after He had won their confidence, that He bade them to follow Him! This is a glorious way of witness. Simply, it is Humble Christian service and sensitivity to the needs of others. If we would moddle this method, we would have much more sucsess than simply handing out tracts, or trying to get others to see things our way. It was not until Jesus had invested a great portion of His effort in the life of the sinner that He the then made an appeal for them to follow Him. And Our Saviors method proved perfectly true. Let us pick up this method, and we will glorify the Lord Greatly in Increasing His Kingdom! Blessings! Andrew:)

  • Scott

    Scott January 19, 2011

    “Jesus sought to discover what their needs were, and then, when He found out, He went right to work to fulfill their needs.”

    This is the model that today’s churches are following by surveying an area and determining that the area needs a dry cleaner and a coffee shop and then opening them inside the church campus.

    Andrew, what are some of the first public words of Jesus Christ recorded in the Bible? Matthew 4:17-19 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  (18)  And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  (19)  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

    When He called Peter and Andrew, did He spend time in friendship evangelism before they came along? Obviously, Matthew 4 shows differently. The only people that I can think of right now that Jesus Christ spent considerable time with was Martha, Mary, and Lazarus (outside of the apostles). Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, the ten lepers, the two blind men, and many others are all shown as direct and to the point evangelism
    The Ministry of Healing book is by Ellen White, for those that do not know, a person that has been shown to be a false prophet.

  • Andrew

    Andrew January 20, 2011

    Scott, it seems that you did not understand my posting clearly. My purpose of writting what I did is to show that the method God has for each of us to reach those who need to be reached are not all the same, i.e. handing out tracts. Handing out a tract may be the least effective way of reaching hearts. I merely suggest that each of us have different ways and gifts that God has given us and would like to use us, and when we all do our part, together, as a body, we are enabled to glorify Him. This isn’t that difficult to comprehend, really. And to make a statement about someone “proven” to be a false prophet, well… that sounds just a little too much like the rash statements the Pharisees would make about Jesus. Or, perhaps I am the one that misunderstood. I thought this was a blog about reaching others for Christ, not about slandering others.

  • Scott

    Scott January 21, 2011

    Ellen White’s prophecies did not come to pass.
    Deuteronomy 18:22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

    In the book Seventh-day Adventism and the
    Writings of Ellen White, J. Mark Martin documents many false prophecies that were published by Mrs. White. These include the following:

    Old Jerusalem Never Built Up
    “I also saw that Old Jerusalem never would be
    built up; and that Satan was doing his utmost to lead the minds of the children of the Lord into these things now, in the gathering time” (Early Writings, p. 75).
    In fact, old Jerusalem has been built up extensively since the birth of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

    Mrs. White to Be Alive When Jesus Returns
    “Soon our eyes were drawn to the east, for a small
    black cloud had appeared, about half as large as a
    man’s hand, which we all knew was the sign of the Son of man. ... Then there was a mighty earthquake. The graves opened, and the dead came up clothed with immortality. The 144,000 shouted, ‘Alleluia!’ as they recognized their friends who had been torn from them by death, and in the same moment WE were changed and caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air” (Early Writings, pp. 15-16).

    Other Adventists Living in 1856 Would See Jesus
    Return
    In May 1865 Ellen White declared in a meeting in
    Battle Creek, Michigan, that some present would “remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 131-132)

    England will declare war on the United States
    “... when England does declare war, all nations will have an interest of their own to serve, and there will be general war, general confusion. ... this nation [the United States] will ... be humbled into the dust” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 259).
    In fact, England did not declare war and the United States was not humbled into the dust.

    Enoch on Jupiter or Saturn
    “The Lord has given me a view of other worlds,
    wings were given me, and an angel attended me from
    the city to a place that was bright and glorious. The grass of the place was living green, and the birds there warbled a sweet song. The inhabitants of the place were of all sizes; they were noble, majestic, and lovely. ... Then I was taken to a world which had seven moons. There I saw good old Enoch, who had been translated” (Early Writings, pp. 39-40).
    Ellen White’s husband, James, said that this vision was of the planets Jupiter and Saturn (A Word to the Little Flock, p. 22).
    Martin remarks, “To date, excellent satellite pictures of Jupiter and Saturn have not revealed any life forms” (Seventh-day Adventism and the Writings of Ellen White, p. 18).

    “Rash statements”? The SDA has declared Ellen White to be a prophet of God. Deuteronomy 18 is clear and understandable—if a prophet of God is wrong, they are not a prophet of God. Slander? Slander is spoken—in print, it is libel. If I have misinterpreted her prophecies, then I will apologize. But if these prophecies are quoted correctly, I have given you some things to think about.

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