South Sydney Anglican Church

Apologetics: Defending the Christian Faith (5th Sunday)

12 May 2024

Series: Apologetics

Bible Passage: Genesis 4:1-11

All Worldviews have Exclusive Truth Claims

Intro:  Well morning friends and visitors. My Name is Matt Johnson and today we are continuing our sermon series on Christian Apologetics. And while Peter told us in 1 Peter 3 to be GENTLE and RESPECTFUL in apologetics today I have to deal with the absolutely daft, stupid, illogical idea that all religions are equal.

Prayer:   Well as we do EVANGELISM in the western world we now often encounter people who say; “Don’t you know all religions are equal?” (I’m sure -you’ve heard this before?) When Christians say – Jesus is the only way to be saved – many people now consider this arrogant AND divisive. (Slide 1) Now technically the idea that all religions are equal is called RELIGIOUS PLURALISM. And religious pluralism largely arose because of multiculturalism* and post-modernism*. Truth is relative. These ideas mean that no religion can claim it is more true than any other religion. But please note: pluralism is not really A) promoting all religions are equal, it is B) promoting an entirely new humanistic religion (that doesn’t really believe in God).

Western pluralists are saying the BEST WAY for humankind to live is A) to let go of their loyalties to particular religions AND B) embrace a kind of universal religion that accepts all paths lead to God. They say this universal religion is superior because it promotes world peace. OF COURSE, devout, traditional Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews and Hindu’s would all disagree. While some religions like BUDDHISM are more inclusive AND other religions like ISLAM are more exclusive – ALL religions still believe that their religion is superior to all other religions. But the religious pluralist is exactly the same. They think that loyalty to no particular religion will create a superior religion and they are desperately trying to convert everyone to their belief system. The religious pluralist is strong on evangelism because they believe that their idea that all religions are equal promotes tolerance, acceptance and love of absolutely everyone.

BUT IN PRACTICE religious pluralism is actually 1) very intolerant, 2)unaccepting and often 3) quite hateful of anyone who maintains loyalty to a particular religion. So, it’s not really tolerant of anyone who is a devout Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Buddhist who believes their religion is the true path to God? So they are actually INTOLERANT of about 85% of the world. But nonetheless the UNITED NATIONS is committed to turning us all into religious pluralists who repeat the mantra – “all religions are equal.” (Slide 2).

Pluralism is the DNA of the United Nations – so the argument that “all religions are equal” is not going to go away any time soon. IN FACT, I suspect THE ONLY EVENT that will prove all religions are NOT equal is Jesus returning on the clouds to judge the world. AMEN! But, while we wait, 1) ONE OF THE KEYS to defeating the argument that all religions are equal is to help ordinary people see that religious pluralism is in fact – an entirely new religion that is very intolerant of traditional religion. 2) It’s also helpful to show people that while religious pluralists say there is NO absolute truth in the world, they continue to say the absolute, truth is that all religions are equal. This is both illogical and hypocritical. 3) It’s also very ARROGANT for the western religious pluralist to think their path to world peace is more valid than any of the other religions paths to world peace…

Friends, I believe religious pluralism is laying the foundation for some of things Jesus warns us about in the book of Revelation. This is a very, very dangerous, illogical argument that ALL born-again Christians MUST reject. If you do not reject religious pluralism you will end up committing apostasy. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians (Slide 3; 2Cor.10:3-5). The reality is some arguments against belief in Jesus 1) are just people wrestling with questions about God. But some arguments against belief in Jesus 3) are spiritual strongholds designed by Satan to hold people in spiritual slavery. And as Christians we MUST ABSOLUTELY DEMOLISH these arguments so people can have true freedom – in Jesus.

 Point 1:         God is Particular in the Worship He Accepts

Show:                        Gen.4:2-5 (READ)

Explain:        Well I chose this passage today to show that not all religions are equal. There is a way to approach God that pleases Him (ie Abel) AND there is a way to approach God that does NOT please Him (ie Cain). Now theologians debate exactly why God is pleased with Abel and displeased with Cain. The general consensus is that Abel brought the best, fattest lambs from among the firstborn, while Cain just chose some of the fruit from His crop. Perhaps some of the fruit was blemished and not very good. But whatever the reason – we see that God finds some things pleasing AND God finds some things displeasing.

THE SIMPLE POINT I want to make is that God does NOT find everything man does under the pretense of worship pleasing to Him. There is a right way to approach God and there is wrong way to approach God. Now God speaks directly to Cain and tells him this pleases me AND this does NOT please me. SO THE BIG QUESTION of religion is whether God has told us anywhere what pleases Him and what displeases Him. Did God really say that the Islamic idea of dying a martyr in Jihad – pleases Him? Did God really say the Buddhist idea of self-denial – pleases Him? Did God really say – belief in Jesus – pleases Him? THE BIG QUESTION of all religion is whether God has told us what pleases Him and what displeases Him.

THE LOGIC that all religions are equal – goes something like this (Slide 4), Again this appears to be a powerful argument against religion in general. But as I pointed out last week many logical arguments against God have HIDDEN PREMISES that are not necessarily true. For instance (ENTER-READ) The idea that all religions are equal arises from the assumption that God has never really spoken. Instead, different men and women, in different cultures have simply come up with idea about God and morality by reflecting on the world. So, every religion will have some truth and some error in them. But what if God has revealed in a particular religion how we must worship Him?

This idea – that maybe the Creator God has spoken simply eludes their logic. Of course, if God has revealed Himself in a particular religion – then obviously that religion will be superior to all other religions. So the first premise is not necessarily true.

Further, the idea that the fundamentals in religion are ALL the same – also contains the hidden premise (ENTER) that man has the ability to judge what is fundamental in religion. Now religious pluralists usually point to the principle of love and they say all religions have a version of THE GOLDEN RULE – “do unto others what you would have them do to you.” This is what Jesus said. But this idea – is kind of present in many other religions too. I’d admit there is some similarities in different religions because of natural theology. Simply, by looking at nature man has worked out there is some sort of Creator God and we should worship Him by doing good. This leads to SOME SIMILARITIES in religion.

But what if the fundamental in RELIGION is NOT something that man needs to do, but something that God has done, Every religion (apart from Christianity) teaches that if you do certain good works – then God will give you paradise, heaven, Nirvana as a reward. So you earn heaven by doing certain good works.  But Christianity says – Jesus has done everything necessary for salvation and He gives us eternal life as a free gift – when we believe in Him. SO A VERY FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION is whether heaven is something we MUST earn or is heaven a free gift we MUST receive? I’d say that unless God speaks – sinful man – cannot work out what is MOST fundamental.

Finally, the conclusion that any religion that makes exclusive claims about God and how He should be worshipped is divisive and leads to conflict hides this premise (ENTER). But this is simply untrue – because the pluralist position says devout, traditional Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc who believe all religions are not equal – are wrong.

Apply:   1) So to defeat the western pluralist idea – it may be worth asking “Do you really think all religions are equal?Do you think child sacrifice in A) the ancient Hittite religion is just as valid as B) the 10 Commandments in Jewish religion?” Obviously, the claim that all religions are equal is pure stupidity. It’s simply shutting down intellectual enquiry. So don’t be afraid to call out dumb, illogical statements for what they are…

2) But also help people to see that they are working with the hidden premise that all religions originate with man, not God. You might say – “Surely, if there is a real God – it is reasonable to believe that God has revealed absolute truth about Himself in a particular religion. If this is possible – then obviously that particular religion would be superior to every other religion.” This is a LOGICAL and UNDENIABLE truth. If there is a God it is entirely plausible that He has spoken somewhere. So if they are willing to concede this is true – you can then show them there is GOOD EVIDENCE that God has spoken absolute truth in and through Jesus. Jesus himself has the hallmarks of God speaking…

Finally, western religious pluralism also tends to take the MORAL HIGH-GROUND because it thinks it is more tolerant, accepting and loving than all other religions. So remembering 1 Peter 3 (that we need to be gentle and respectful in apologetics) – we MUST show them that religious pluralism is no more tolerant, accepting or loving than any other religion – because they try to convert anyone who holds traditional religious views to their way of thinking. So their moral high-ground is completely false…

Point 2:         God is Particular that some things are Right and some Wrong

Show:                        Gen.4:5b-6 (READ)

Explain:         Well God makes it very clear to Cain that some things are RIGHT and some things are WRONG. If Cain does what is right, he will be accepted by God. But if Cain remains angry he is in danger of sin ruining his life. So, God tells him he must rule over his sinful desires and do what is right. But how do we rule over sin?

Experientially we know all humans are tempted by fleshly desire to sometimes do things that we know are wrong. This is the fatal flaw in man AND almost all religions acknowledge this fatal flaw. Man has a problem with doing evil. Now as we read on – we see Cain kills his brother Abel and things go from bad to worse in the Bible. But what is the problem here? Is the problem sin or is the problem religion?

Most religions say the problem is SIN. But the religious pluralist now says the problem is religion itself. If Cain and Abel didn’t engage in different type of worship – Cain wouldn’t have got jealous and Cain wouldn’t have killed Abel. SO THE REAL PROBLEM is religion and differences in religion. So if we stop religion or limit the differences in religion – then the problem of people fighting each other and killing each other will be fixed. But is the problem really religion?

Ironically in the C20th the least religious countries have done the most evil. As Russia, Communist China, the Khmer Rouge and even Nazi Germany stopped true religion – the problem of evil went up exponentially. Alexander McGrath, a British theologian writes (Slide 9).

The other problem religious pluralists face is that whenever governments explicitly try to outlaw certain religions – they often grow. In the last 100 years as the western world has begun to reject Christianity and religious persecution has increased – the church has been growing at its fastest rate in history. (Slide 10) So outlawing religion simply seems to amplify man’s desire for religious freedom.

Yet nonetheless, the religious pluralist continues to believe that religion  and the exclusive claims of religion (especially Christianity) is the main problem that MUST be controlled for the sake of world peace. Now we know this is ultimately coming from Satan. But politicians, academics, institutions and corporations have now created a culture in western society where 1) talking about the exclusive truth claims of any religion OR 2) trying to convert people to your religion is seriously frowned upon. Here’s some things you will regularly hear in the west.

(Slide 11). Now as we’ve done this apologetics sermon today – I’ve pointed out some of the flaws and hypocrisy in this thinking. BUT THE ONLY WAY people can claim any of these things is if they can prove God has never spoken authoritatively anywhere. So while the religious pluralists claim all religions lead to God – A) many don’t believe in God and B) they certainly don’t believe He has spoken absolutely or authoritatively anywhere. Of course, if God has spoken authoritatively in Jesus or Mohammad or Buddha – all these arguments fall down in a house of cards.

So we get back to the question of has God clearly spoken anywhere? The minute people concede that A) if God exists it is B) plausible that He may have spoken – we can easily lead people to all the evidence that Jesus is God in the flesh – as evidenced by the virgin birth, all his miracles and his resurrection from the dead. There is good and reasonable evidence that God has spoken in Jesus. But the religious pluralist still has a bigger problem than God speaking. What is the religious pluralists solution to sin…

Point 3:         God is Particular that the Problem of Sin is ONLY fixed in Jesus

Show:                        Gen.4:8-9 (READ)

Explain:         Well in the end Cain kills Abel (for no good reason) and pretty much everyone agrees this wrong. Man often does things that are wrong. This is an undeniable truth. But what is the SOLUTION for sin and wrongdoing. Pretty much all religions look for an answer to sin – in God. God has spoken in some way – through Buddha, Mohammad, Jesus or the Hindu Vedas telling man how to address the problem of sin. Now we can compare these different answers – to work out what makes the most sense. In any comparison I’d say Jesus wins hands down.

Only Jesus fixes the TWOFOLD PROBLEM of sin. FIRST, sin displeases God and brings us under God’s judgment. SECOND, sin is such a powerful force in our lives that we need Gods help to overcome it. Now I believe (and I can prove) that Christianity addresses the problem of sin – in a way that no other religion can. (GOSPEL) First Jesus died on the cross to pay the PENALTY for our sin. We deserve to be punished for our wrongdoing. But as Jesus died on the cross he took the punishment for all our sins. So if we believe in Jesus and ask God to forgive us – we are forgiven. God then accepts Jesus’ death as full payment for our sins and promises us heaven as a free gift.

THIS GIFT then puts in the Christian heart a genuine desire to please God and stop sinning. Love of God begins to counter love of sin. But Jesus also becomes the TEMPLATE for Christians to interact with other religions. We are told to be gracious with other people – because we know that everyone is a sinner. Christians know they are no better than any other person. So genuine Christians who are born again – should be gracious, gentle and respectful as we engage with other worldviews because we know that at one point we too were blind and lost. But Jesus also calls us to forgive our enemies and show love even to those who persecute us. So the teaching, principles and beliefs of Christianity are actually a very powerful force for peace in our world.

But God also promises that when we believe in Jesus and start to follow Him – He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us change for the BETTER. God’s Spirit begins to control the desires of sin, anger and jealousy, so that we can love instead of hate…

Now I’d say Gods solution to sin in Jesus is far superior to any other religious explanation. But it is especially superior to religious pluralism’s ANSWER TO SIN. Remember, the religious pluralist doesn’t believe God has spoken about anything. So the religious pluralist is left trying to come up with A SOLUTION to sin themselves. IN THIS WAY religious pluralism is a profoundly a man-centric or humanist religion. It looks for answers in man.

But what is mans solution to sin? Well humanism only has two solutions for sin. That is education and legislation. The religious pluralist believes that if we educate the world in more and more DOGMATIC WAYS about what is right and wrong everyone will fall into line. But remember there is no absolute truth about what is right and wrong. So while those in positions of power say that there is no absolute truth, they also say it is absolutely true 1) all religions are equal, 2) little boys can be little girls, 3) abortion is always right (even at full term) and 4) although people are starving and can’t pay their electricity bills – the greatest virtue is looking after planet earth. While telling us there is no absolute truth – THE MINISTRY OF TRUTH says these things are absolutely and undeniably true. Now if this seems like complete and utter lunacy that because it is. Man is losing his mind. But if you point this out and you don’t fall into line with the education policy – they will bring the full force of the law against you. If education doesn’t work, legislation must become stricter and more tyrannical simply to maintain order in a world without truth. And the sad thing is – that without the idea of absolute truth coming from God (in true) religion – there is nothing you can appeal to against the madness or tyranny.

Apply:   Friends, please note these facts;

1) God can speak and God has spoken undeniably in Jesus,

2) the world will fall apart without absolute truth,

3) the religious pluralists are playing silly buggers when they say there is no absolute truth and yet claim absolute truths in the exact same breath;

4) man’s real problem is sin, not religion

5) religious pluralists are often more intolerant and vitriolic than most traditional religions in their proselytization;

But apart from all this stupidity – it may also be worth pointing out to religious pluralists that the only tools they have to deal with sin (in our increasingly divided world) is education and legislation. But without any form of absolute truth from God that education and legislation is beginning to look a lot more dystopian than utopian. The education policy is getting more insane and the legislation policy is becoming more tyrannical. This idea that all religions are equal does not bode well for humanity. And if they still don’t recognize the stupidity of this position – simply tell them to open their eyes because it’s becoming pretty damn obvious to anyone with a brain. Now I know I’m meant to be GENTLE and RESPECTFUL in apologetics. But we are now in the realm of spiritual warfare and people need to wake up to the fact that Gods truth in Jesus is the only truth that can save our world.

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