Ask Your Preacher
I feel a fascination with Islam. Not one that would make me convert (I don't think), but rather, I enjoy studying it. If I am christian, which I am, then should I study my own religion rather than another one? Is it bad to learn about another religion?
There isn't anything wrong with studying other religions, but it would be a problem if you spent more time studying a false religion than you did studying the Bible. How we spend our time is indicative of our priorities. God tells us to study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim 2:15) and that we should grow in our knowledge, so we can teach others Jesus' message (Heb 5:12). It is useful to know what false religions practice (even Paul had studied the pagan poets of his day – Acts 17:28), but not nearly as useful as knowing what the Bible says. The best way to prepare yourself to "give an answer for the hope that is within you" (1 Pet 3:15) is to make sure to study your Bible diligently. Once again, studying Islam isn't wrong, but you need to make sure it is properly balanced with other study habits.
If you were Muslim, cured cancer, saved millions of lives, and ended world hunger, would you still go to hell simply for not being christian?
Dear Just Curious,
If you are a Muslim, you will go to hell. If you are anything other than a christian, you will go to hell. Nobody gets to heaven because they are such a good person (Rom 3:27-28). Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the perfection that gives you a right to enter heaven’s gates (Rom 3:23). No amount of good deeds cancel out your bad deeds. If I save a million lives, but murder one – I am still a murderer. Sin requires forgiveness, and forgiveness is a gift (Rom 6:23). We receive that gift through Jesus’ sacrifice (Jhn 3:16), and we can only be redeemed by Jesus’ blood when we place our faith in Him (Rom 3:24-25). We place our faith in Christ when we hear His Word (Rom 10:17) and obey it. There is no way to God except through Christ (Jhn 14:6). We here at AYP are unashamed to call Jesus our Lord (Rom 10:16-17) and proclaim Him as the only way to heaven (Jhn 10:7-11).
I'm having some issues about this mosque being argued over in New York, as many seem to be. In all truth and seriousness in the nature of this debate, we've understood that our first amendment right is the freedom of religion, and to infringe on this God-given right for one party or person, is to bring a disservice to us all. I was hopeful that you could guide me to some Scriptures that help tell us how not to focus so much hate or look down on our fellow man, even if we don't agree with how they've chosen to live their lives. I have had the arguments with coworkers and family that ours is not to judge their actions but to be mindful of our own, but some words from the Lord would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Changing The Topic
Dear Changing The Topic,
People should always seek to be tactful in religious debate, but from a Biblical viewpoint, every mosque is appalling. The Muslim religion stands opposed to the Bible and Jesus. Jesus said that He is the only way to God (Jhn 14:6), and the apostle Paul condemned all false prophets (Gal 1:8)... including Mohammed. That is God’s judgment on the religion of Islam.
The building of a mosque at Ground Zero has political and emotional ramifications that can be talked about for hours, but the Biblical ramifications are simple – Islam is a false religion.
Basically, the biggest thing I do not understand about Christianity is the concept of being sentenced to eternal damnation. In all my experience, I have been told that God is wise, loving, and caring towards all. And without a doubt, He must be if He created this wonderful world. But wherever I have searched, it seems the one condition for going to hell is not believing in Jesus. Unless I am wrong, this would mean that the average peaceful, celibate, Buddhist monk who would have spent almost his entire life demonstrating nothing but kindness and love towards others (and perhaps has never even heard of God or any Christian doctrine) would be sentenced to everlasting torture in a pit of fire. Whereas you could have a normal American man who claims to believe in Jesus and goes to church but is not honest and does not even try to practice things like kindness, love, or compassion towards others go to heaven. Christianity says this man ends up going to eternal paradise when he dies, while the peaceful monk roasts.
To me, this is not right, and it would make more sense that with all of the different and diverse religions of the world, one’s afterlife would be determined not by his beliefs, but by his thoughts and actions towards himself and others. And another thing, many if not most, religions (except Buddhism as far as I’m aware) promise torment in the afterlife if you are not a follower of said religion. What makes Christianity any different? Because it’s the “right one?” As far as I’m concerned, I could argue any other major religion’s case as much as Christianity’s. Others have ancient texts that have documented miracles performed by supposedly divine characters. I believe in a God, no doubt, but I would think if He was so wise and powerful as to create the universe, He would not sentence a peaceful and loving soul (let alone any soul) to such a thing as eternal damnation just because we weren’t His follower. It makes more sense that such a God judges by one’s actions. Beliefs should be irrelevant, mainly because every religion is capable of scaring people into following it. I’m just as concerned about Islam being correct as I am Christianity. If I am not one or the other, I burn forever. This makes no sense. Please give me your opinion.
A common misconception is that people are saved because they are good. If making good choices were the standard for going to heaven... no one would make it there. We go to heaven because we want to be with God and because we commit our lives to faithfully living for Him (Eph 2:8). Heaven is a perfect place, and no one is perfect... therefore, no one deserves to go to heaven. If imperfect people go to a perfect place, that place ceases to be perfect. That is why all sin is deserving of hell (Rom 6:23)... all sin separates us from the perfection of God's existence. The only way back to God is through the blood of Jesus (Jhn 14:6). Buddhism (among other religions) may be able to teach you some good morals, but it can't cover your previous sins. Only Christ can pay that price (1 Jn 4:10). Only Christianity provides the whole and verifiable truth (read "Who Wrote The Bible?" for proof that the Bible, unlike other books, was written by God).
When God designed mankind, He made us in His image (Gen 1:26). One result of that design is that all humans have eternal souls. That is a positive thing. God intended for Adam and Eve to never die and to always enjoy the blessings of fellowship with God in the garden (Gen 2:8). Eden was a perfect situation, and it was our sin that destroyed that perfection. Mankind sinned, and that sin causes us to die (Rom 6:23). God gives us the freedom to choose life or choose sin; the fact that we all choose to sin is not His fault (Rom 5:12). Heaven is a perfect place, and if God allowed sinful people into heaven, it would cease to be perfect. Our actions and choices have condemned us.
God, however, wishes to save us from ourselves. He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins (Jhn 3:16). He provided us with the Bible, which shows us the path to receive salvation (Rom 10:17, Rom 1:16). We should not blame God for those who go to hell any more than we should blame a doctor when his patient refuses to take their medication. It is true that many people will go to hell (Matt 7:13), but God doesn’t desire that any should perish (Ezek 18:23). God sent us a Savior in Jesus Christ, even though we didn’t deserve Him (1 Jn 4:14).
I have pondered about the idea of a messiah. It seemed to me that all cultures and religions have a savior. It seems to me quite possible that God sent His son, or Himself, or the third iteration of Himself (however one interprets the messiah) to all different peoples to lead them around the same time, essentially. And presently, Satan exploits this to make humans fight each other because we all worship the same god. So any theism works… that is what I'm trying to say and what I think.
Is Jesus Christ special, or was Isus the Egyptian messiah, or Allah, or Krishnu, or Jehovah just as good?
Dear Open Minded,
Jesus is special, and He left no room for other gods. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jhn 14:6). Jesus was either the one and only Messiah – or He was a crazy lunatic. Jesus teaches that we can only have one Master (Matt 23:10) and that serving anyone else is a sin. Jesus taught that we either confess Him as the Christ, or we will be denied before God (Lk 12:8-9). Jesus cannot coexist with other gods. The Bible is clear – there can be only one (Eph 4:4-6). Isus, Allah, Krishnu, etc. are all false gods.