Jesus vs. ________: Part 2
Here is the pdf What is a Cult? Part 2
Glad you all came back. Last week we started a new series called Jesus vs. ______ in which we are comparing Christianity to other cults, religions, and worldviews. The reason we are doing this is simple. Have you ever asked THE question…. What’s the difference? What is the difference between every other religion. Aren’t they all the same? Don’t they all lead to the same place? Just as long as you believe in a higher power then who cares sort of thing… Have you asked that, heard that, or believe that?
Real simply… No. No, they don’t. We don’t all worship the same God. The Muslim God Allah is not the same a the Christian God. So the question is. Who’s right? And what is Allah?
So the big idea for this series is to present to you the foundations of the Christian Doctrine and how other religions compare to Christianity in general and Jesus in particular.
We want you to be able to do what Peter said “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in your; yet do it with gentleness and respect”
We defined a few words last week. Tolerance – how do you react when someone disagree’s with you. You can be loving, yet still disagree. Doctrine – what you teach. Worldview – is our philosophy of life. It’s the lens you see life through. Orthodox – right teaching. You teach what is right. For example. Brad is a baseball coach. It is safe to say that Brad is very orthodox in his coaching. Brad emphasis right technique and fundamentals. What happens when your technique and fundamentals are off? You get hurt, you play sloppy, you make mistakes, you don’t play to your full potential.
There are three worlds I want to distinguish for you… religion, denomination, and cult
–What is a religion? – A system of worship and service for a Deity or Deities. Religions have a deity, sacred writings, practices. The differences between religions are going to revolve around their God.
–What is a denomination? – A group within a religion that bonds together because they share some beliefs and practices that are distinctive from other members of their religion. What can happen is that personalities clash, each denomination emphasize different things in different ways. Which one is more right… tough question but since you asked… the Christian Church…
-What is a cult? – claims association with a religion but does not fully share the religions view regarding the identification of it’s deity and sacred writings. (If Mormons claimed to be only Mormon and not Christian they would be religion…make since?)
A friend shared with me some notes he got from a class he took on the Cults while he was getting his maters degree. On the notes was a list of 12 characteristics of Cults.
12 Characteristics of Cults
1) New Truth – There has been ‘new’ or ‘newer truth’ given to me. This can be new books equal to the bible.
2) New Interpretations of Scripture – You must be apart of our group to understand it.
3) Non-Biblical Source of Authority – This is through writing or an individual. Most of the time it starts with the person that began the religion
4) Rejection of Orthodox Christianity – rejection of right teaching. Ignoring the essential doctrine.
5) Double-Talk – They use some of the same language as Orthodox Christians, but have change the meaning.
6) Non-Biblical teaching of Trinity and Nature of God – They change the nature of God, and also deny certain aspects
7) Changing Theology – New leaders can come in and change old theologies, doctrines, and contradict past writings. This comes in the form of God told me
8) Strong Leadership – Leaders tend to be very charismatic, and great salesmen.
9) Salvation by works – Jesus plus something (The more we understand grace the more we annoy people who don’t)
10) False Prophecy – If your miss a prophecy once… your a false prophet. Must be right every time.
11) Cults major and minors – Launch major theology off a minor scripture.
12) Another Jesus – Cults don’s see Jesus the same way as Orthodox Christians would.
Here is the tension of it all…
John 14:6 Jesus said to him (Thomas one of his disciples who asked Jesus a question), ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
It should be noted that Jesus did not say “I am one of many equally good ways” or “I am a better way then the others, I am an aspect of truth; I am a fragment of the life.” Instead, His claim was absolute.
The way – that we come into a relationship with God is through the cross that Jesus died on. In our place for our sin. Jesus doesn’t just present an issue without giving us the solution. “I am the way” this implies that through my death on the cross all are forgiven, all are loved, and all are given a way back to God. Do you see how inclusive that is? Anyone in the room and outside of this room has a way back to God.
The truth – If you want to know how God is you look at Jesus. When you come to Jesus you come to the one in which the truth about God the father is found.
The life – Jesus is also the way to the Father because he is the life. In various ways the Fourth Gospel speaks of Jesus as ‘the life’. In 1:4 we are told, ‘In him was life, and that life was the light of men,’ and in 5:26 Jesus says, ‘as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself’. In 6:33, 35, 48, 51 Jesus speaks of himself as the ‘bread of life’, and in 11:25 he says, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ All these texts reflect the fact that the life of God was found in Jesus. Therefore, when people come to Jesus they come to the one in whom the life of the Father is found, and in this sense also Jesus is the way to the Father.
It doesn’t stop there. In this text Jesus not only said that he was ‘the way the truth and the life’; he also added, No one comes to the Father except through me. No-one else can bring people to God, for no-one else has seen God or made him known (1:18; 3:13), no-one else speaks and embodies the truth about God as he does, no-one else shares the very life of God, and no-one else has dealt with the problem of human sin so as to bring people back to a holy God. This means that no-one can claim to know God while rejecting Jesus his Son (5:23; 8:42).
Here is where it all gets murky. There is a thing called religion pluralism. This simple means that all religions are equal. One does not stand out above the other. This also insist that truth is relative. Meaning, that we can believe total opposite things and they are both right.
In one breath some of you might agree with me, but I’d argue you don’t really believe that. You don’t really believe that all religions and ‘life styles’ are equal and true. You don’t believe that truth is relative. You believe in an absolute. Let me show you.
Lets just say, hypothetically, I walked up and kicked you in the face. You would have a problem with that right? Absolutely. You would want to tell someone so that I would get fired, or disciplined. But to me kicking you in the face would just be natural, or acceptable… who are you to tell me that this is wrong? There are certain basic things that you would say are absolute. Who told you that it was absolute and true. You would say, well it’s just common since.
I would tell you that it comes from God. CS Lewis once said (this argument was for intelligent design through a moral standard), “that how would you know that a straight line was straight? Unless someone told showed you the difference between a wavy line and a straight one”
So for you to say that things are relative, and everything is equal is an absolute statement in itself. Who decides what is absolute? If we are honest, we would say ‘I do’. I decide what is true in my life. Which makes about as much since as my 4 year old daughter coming up to me and asking for the keys to my car so she can drive to pre-school. Here is a bigger question. How good of a father would I be if gave her the keys to let her try…?
What can happen is that our tolerance, by the world definition (which is do what ever you want), can get in the way of Christian absolute. The world’s tolerance is similar to a buffet. You go through the line. Pick what you are hungry for, or like. Reject what you aren’t hungry for or like.
If you remember G.K. Chesterton’s view of tolerance is “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” A conviction means you believe something very strongly. This is a firmly held belief or opinion. So if you don’t have a strong belief in anything your willing to accept anything.
So. What do you believe? Do you believe it!? James 1:8 says that a “double-minded man will be unstable in all their ways” It’s important to know what you believe, and in my opinion for it not to just be anything, but to be Jesus way. Hope this helps. Next week we are going to be looking at Jehovah Witness (JWs) and Mormons.
Lets go into table discussions.