I just spent some time arguing certain tenets of faith with a self professed Christian Evangelical /Fundamentalist. I found his remarks to be fairly typical of most conservative Christians so I thought they might be worth discussing. I’ve generalized my questions to him in the hope for at least some sort of brevity. I wonder where many of you stand on these issues. 1.) Isn’t it possible, as CS Lewis suggests in Mere Christianity, for a person of another religion to encounter Christ? (such as the centurion that Jesus lauded for having great faith):
How can I find Jesus in another religion, when the only “religion” He preached was the Christian/Biblical one? Now, you may be saying that we can find elements of Christianity in other religions, and use them to show them Jesus. But Jesus cannot be found (literally) in another religion.
2.) What about, for example, the fate of a young Hindu boy, never having encountered a missionary or a Bible:
As tragic as it is, I would say that yes, if the boy never believes and has faith in Jesus Christ, then he would go to hell whenever he dies.
3.) So then there is no way for someone, who is not a Christian, to realize their salvation?:
That’s exactly right! In order to go to heaven and spend eternity with Christ, you have to believe in Him and the fact that he is the ONLY way to Heaven!….If you don’t believe that, then you can’t go!
4.) But that does not seem to be consistent with the picture of the Father, a God of love, as revealed through Jesus’ ministry here on earth:
Yes God is a god of love. He would desire all to partake of heaven, but some won’t. Simple as that. If you don’t believe that that John 3:16, and John 14:6 then you cannot call yourself a Christian. Because you aren’t following the Christ of the Bible.
You struggle with accepting the fact that God could create a place of eternal punishment. Why? Why is that illogical? God is love, and as such he sent his Son to die! We now have a way to escape the eternal punishment for our sins. There would be no Hell if we hadn’t sinned, or if Satan hadn’t rebelled.
5.) The doctrine of Hell looks to be un-biblical, certain foreign ideas about such a place appear to have been incorporated into the various translations of scripture:
Either you believe in the Bible’s truth or you don’t. There’s usually no gray areas with scripture. Usually.I’ve stated it already, read John 14:6. If you do not believe that, and believe that only through faith in Christ we can live eternally with Him (John 3:16), then you are not a Christian. You are not a believer. If you were to die not believing that, then you would sadly not be in Heaven, but rather Hell. I have no problem saying that because God said it not me. Something inspired by God must be infallible because a perfect God thought of it. You contradict yourself way too much. The Word of God is open to interpretation because as humans, we’ll never fully understand everything but that doesn’t make the Word fallible. It’s only a reminder of how fallible we are. If you don’t believe the divinely inspired Word of God is infallible than you deny that God is infallible.
6.) How about divine revelation through creation? Can’t someone know God through nature?:
I would agree with you that people can see God’s work in nature, but they have to attribute that to God, the god of the Bible
7.) When we talk of the Christian religion, Jesus knew of no such thing. He was a practicing Jew that demonstrated what living out God’s law looked like. Even, Paul, in his letters, never lost sight of the fact that he himself was Jewish and one of his great challenges was how to instruct others into welcoming the Gentiles into a Jewish faith community:
Paul was a Jew? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. So the whole experience on the road to Damascus was just a random event? Paul encountered God on the road, and made a fundamental shift to spreading the gospel. A Christian is someone who follows Christ.
8.) It seemed that Jesus spent much time speaking out against religion, particularly those doctrines that were so rigid that they tended to obscure the spirit of God’s law:
Rigid doctrinal walls are necessary and they will always be necessary. I will never back down from the basic doctrines I believe in. Though I may be labeled fundamentalist, judgmental, ignorant, divisive, I attribute all that to the Bible.
9.) But isn’t Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness the real ‘meat’ of the Gospel? Although described by some as coming from a ‘fluffy and cuddly’ Jesus, isn’t this message the hardest to digest? Just look around; is anyone truly following him?:
I don’t want my faith to be fluffy or cuddly. I want it to be defined very clearly….I find incredible joy knowing that my beliefs are substantiated by the Word of God. Though I will never understand everything, that does not limit the infallibility and wonderful nature of God Almighty…..A fundamentalist such as myself is not anti-witnessing or relating to people, I do that everyday. I’m merely wanting others to know exactly where I stand. I’d rather a non-believer know exactly where I stand, than leave it up for debate in the hopes of gaining a friend.
10.) What about those people who are turned off by fire and brimstone rhetoric? Perhaps we are doing the Gospel a disservice by being so confrontational;
….only those with the eyes to see, and the ears to hear will accept Christ.
Unfortunately, the conversations often ended this way:
I may not be understanding you, but if you can bring me Biblical proof to substantiate your claim, I’m all for it.
What say you?