Christians Say Other Religions Lead to Heaven?

In a recent article from the Christian post, it stated “Nearly 70% of born-again Christians say other religions can lead to Heaven: study”

Despite being in a post-modernist, pluralistic society, the percentage was staggering. I would expect a percentage that high from all peoples, or from non-believers, but seeing as how Christ Himself said “I am the truth, the light, and the way, and no one gets to the Father but through me,” and seeing as how this is a major defining doctrine of Christianity, it is disturbing that as a whole, the church is this far off base.

I personally ran in to this twice during conversations with two different Christians, but both of whom had family members that were Muslim. In both cases, it was apparent that the belief was an emotional one, not one based in study of the word, and not one they were willing to reconsider at the time. These mental commitments to falsehoods were born of love and concern, born of fear, and of being unwilling to face an unpleasant reality that would exclude past and present family members from eternal life with God and Jesus Christ.

This sadness, and angst I can certainly understand. In times past, this tension would cause people to evangelize with great fervor. But today, in a watered down, luke warm society, where all manner of doctrine are considered mainstream, and doctrinal truths are preached as out-dated and misunderstood, is it not concivable that one can enjoy church themselves as a comfortable truth, but in a weak enough church to not force them to commit to the absolute truth of the word?

Let us look at a couple examples of how exactly eternal life is offered:

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
John 10:28-30

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
1 John 5:11

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:13

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
John 17:3

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Matthew 7:13-14

There are many more, and a study of this could be extensive. But from this sampling, it is quite obvious that not only is eternal life presented in conjunction with Jesus Christ alone. More than that, it is dependent upon Him alone. This is to say nothing of the fact that many warnings exist about the narrow path to salvation, such as the above mentioned narrow gate from Matthew. In John chapter 10 when Jesus says, I am the door. Or how bout the clear, definitive, and powerful statement from Acts 4:12, “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.”

With these clear distinctions made in the word of God, we can be certain that if someone believes there is another way to eternal life with the Creator, than he or she does not believe the Bible. I don’t mean to be cruel, and I speak from a broken heartedness at the willingness of churches, mentors, and believers to soft sell this point for so long that a possible 70% of Christians are scared to proclaim this truth. But it is truth.

Imagine the logical confusion that would naturally follow if God, who came to make himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, who made clear that no other gods exist, none save Him should be worshipped, and that there is but one creator, decided to for some reason allow any worship of any false thing to diminish His work on the cross. Imagine pantheism or polytheism, multiple gods countering the commandment God wrote with His very finger somehow leading to fellowship with Him. Just pick your own god. any god will do! Imagine Him allowing the complete dismissal of His act of love and sacrifice, and acknowledging false religions who not only don’t think Jesus is Lord – demanded for salvation in Romans 10 – but many who think He was merely a teacher, on par with Confucius, Gandhi, Siddhartha, thereby making Him a liar. Was He not Resurrected?! Certainly not according to Islam.

The bottom line is this. If faith, specifically faith in the Resurrected Christ, is nullified as a means of salvation, you have turned your back on the gospel. You have tried to render unnecessary the very thing that God did to take judgement and sin from you, the very person all of creation itself is made by, and for. I can only hope that this poll is wrong, that the numbers are inflated.

The Bible asks us to repent, and believe. Believe! Believe that He is Lord, and that God raised Him from the dead. Not believe in whatever you want. Believe in the truth. The one and only way. I know it is scary to commit to truth sometimes. But being afraid to acknowledge this truth with loved ones, with church congregations, is not love. It is to protect yourself from uncomfortable feelings, difficult conversations, and from people nowadays thinking you are a close-minded, judgmental, bigoted Christian. The truth is not popular in our society anymore. And it may be easier to navigate society pretending Jesus is cool with whatever. But unless you want to throw out your bible, you will have to square with what it says someday.

Reformation Day October 31st, 1517

Dayhoff: Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago on  Oct. 31 - Carroll County Times

On October 31st, I reflect on the acts of Martin Luther, Reformation Day, and the 95 Theses. Martin Luther was a flawed man, and certainly is due some criticism, as are we all, much the same as Constantine, King James, Columbus are all flawed, and therefore vilified by many a likewise-flawed individual despite certain great accomplishments, the benefits of which we still reap to this day.

Often when anyone is celebrated, it becomes human nature to tear that person down for wrongs, or missteps, a lack of perfection, and the legacy of that person is painted with that brush; yet who among us, whether now or even moreso ensconced in those cultures of yesteryear, can claim perfect judgement in tumultuous times.

But what is celebrated on Reformation Day is the day that Martin Luther walked up to the church doors of Wittenberg, and nailed his 95 theses to it, 95 propositions that he was prepared to defend. The Reformation had been seeded in other areas already, as people worked to read the bible in their native language, a mission of John Wycliffe, who translated the bible into English, and some of whose followers were burned to death for what the Pope considered heracy, i.e. wanting to read the word of God.

Or Valdes (founder of the Waldensians), who was bannished and forbidden to preach by Pope Lucius III. They were formally condemned in 1184, and suffered such severe persecution by the Catholic Church, they were forced to travel and teach in secret, usually in two’s, and usually unmarried men, as they expected to die for their choice.

But Martin Luther’s act of defiance in 1517 began a chain reaction that led ultimately to the Reformation, and the reclaiming of the New Testament Church, as well as the doctrine of Grace Alone, rather than the rampant use of Indulgences, or paying the church to absolve sins and reduce the time one must spend in purgatory, a pervasive part of religious life at the time. Martin, despite how artwork depicts the scene, was not surrounded by a throng of angry people, and probably did not expect the series of events that followed. He was simply, after studying, pointing out the misuse of religion to acrue money, and wanted people to be focused on Christ and saving grace . The collecting of these indulgences made their way to Germany, and that was where he made his stand. Indulgence was a well established part of culture, and over the last couple hundred years had grown not only to incorproate paying for remission of sin for an individual, but accepting payments for dead relatives believed to be in Purgatory as well. Paying the Catholic church, it was taught, would move them right along to heaven, for a fee.

Late in the 14th Century was introduced the “Treasury of Merit” concept, which is the idea that with a long history of saints having stored up good works, a bank of good deeds had been saved up. It became customary to believe that what works beyond their own salvation the saints had accrued, could be applied to others, again for a fee. The Popery had control over who would be allocated this saved up merit, thereby holding salvation for randsom. This of course is not found in the bible.

Romans 3:21–28; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8–9; Philippians 3:8–11

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith papart from works of the law

16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified

8 For by grace you have been saved athrough faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I ehave suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having fa righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and ithe power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead

The back story? The catalyst was a man named Albert of Mainz, a German in a high and powerful office within the Church, an Archbishop. It took substantial monies to secure this position, and Indulgences were a way to pay these loans back after securing a position of power. He had to ask permission of course, but as luck would have it, the St Peter’s Basillica built by Constantine was in dire need of a renovation, and Pope Leo X allowed Albert to institute Indulgences in Germany, as long as he split the profits with Rome.

The practices of extorting the layety’s money is well known:

Indulgence Chest

Proceeding the firey preaching about how dead relatives were suffering, the indulgence chest would arrive. Then the sermon about how loved ones are needlessly tormented and suffering in penance and agony day in and day out would paint the bleakest of pictures. At the end, they would offer a way out if you paid, an offical signed document from the Catholic Church for the remission of sins, and finish with the now infamous statement: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from Purgatory springs.”

Indulgence trading was big business before the Reformation
Indulgence document, handed out after payment, assuring the full remission of sins

The words ‘sola gratia’, or Grace Alone, defined the movement as a whole, which rebelled against the catholic idea that the cross was not enough, but what makes Martin Luther such an amazing figure in church history, is that he set this movent off unwittingly. He was completely unaware of the deal the Pope had made with Albert, for though the indulgence business was booming, the back door deal between Germany and Rome had not been publlicized. Without knowing it, and based purely on spiritual conviction, he was unwittingly taking on two of the most powerful people in the world at that time, by criticizing their lucrative schemes.

Keep in mind that the Theses themselves were not condoning a split from the church, and were in and of themselves not overly argumentative. Based on his letters, he seemed quite surprised at the response of the Catholic church, and didn’t realize the political trap he had just stepped on. In fact, as a professor, it was a common way to present a theory or argument for debate so you could hear the other side in case you were wrong. The build up to it, and the actions that followed were the domino effect of that one event that Luther considered a harmless statement. It wasn’t until the hornet’s nest had been accidentally kicked, that Luther had to muster his courage to stand firm on his interpretation of scripture.

It is safe to say that we don’t always know how God will use people, and it is interesting that such a seemingly inocuous event could spark not only so many deaths, but the eventual reformation itself, where people were grateful to learn the true power of the cross, and were grateful to have a Bible written in their own language. It wasn’t always so.

So when you think upon Reformation Day, this October 31st, let us remember all that transpired to put the true gospel of Jesus Christ in our hands, as recorded in our New Testament. A gospel of grace, instead of works.

Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

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