Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Dave, I want to jump right in to our first question: “There are thousands of religions….”
Dave: Well, wait a minute. You’ve got to tell them where it comes from. Sorry.
Tom: That’s all right.
Dave: You started out our first question—well, where does it come from? You left them hanging…
Tom: I did? Well, if anybody out there is hanging, we’re gonna solve that problem right now…
Tom: This question comes from a book that we’ve been going through—oh, almost half a year, now. Anyway, the book is called In Defense of the Faith, and it’s an excellent book dealing with all kinds of questions that you have been confronted with over your many years of ministry—I’d say more than 50 years.
Dave:Just had a couple of Q&A sessions over the weekend, too… We got more questions…
Tom: More questions…
Dave: We’ve been talking about Islam…
Tom: I don’t remember you covering that in In Defense of the Faith.
Tom: So this book preceded, certainly, 9/11 by a few years.
Dave:Yes, Islam wasn’t the big topic in those days, amazingly. Although I’ve been writing about it for many years.
Tom:Well, 1 Peter:3:15 mentions that we’re always to be ready to give an answer to those who have…
Dave: To everyone, it says.
Tom: To everyone…
Dave: …who asks a reason of the faith that’s in us.
Dave: And we do it with meekness and fear, Tom. We’re not know-it-alls. We just rely upon God and His Word…
Tom: But you’ve received all kinds of questions over your many years of ministry, as I’ve said, and some of them are tough.
Tom: You know, they’re not always easy answers, but still, the Scripture encourages us to be diligent, to really search out His Word. God wouldn’t have given us His Word, I don’t think, if we couldn’t understand it. And it’s not that we have it wired, as you’ve said. It’s not that we know every answer, but again, God would not give us His Word if we weren’t able to understand it.
Tom:He didn’t write it to brilliant people; He didn’t write it to experts in this or that. He just wrote it to the common folk.
Dave: Right. Some people treat it that way, Tom. They like to think that they are the experts who can understand it, but anyway…okay, I interrupted you, now let’s get on to the question…ready for this question!
Tom: You ready for this, Dave? I was wondering if you were maybe back-pedaling a little bit, because this is a tough one. All right…
Dave: Well, we’ll see.
Tom: “There are thousands of religions in the world, each one answering the needs of a particular culture or individual. To insist that only one, as Christians do, is right, and all others wrong, is, in my opinion, so narrow minded and dogmatic as to be unbelievable. Religious exclusivism does violence to man’s right to freely choose his belief system. What kind of God would reject sincerely held religious beliefs?”
Oh, let me jump on this one…
Tom: Could it be that people are sincerely wrong?
Dave: Could be, Tom. They’ve been sincerely wrong often. But of course, the writer doesn’t consider that in religion. They recognize there are rules for everything else. You can’t get on a United Airlines with a ticket to the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. They just won’t let you on. They’re just narrow minded about that! But apparently, anything goes with God!
Tom, it doesn’t make sense. This is a very common question. “We’re all taking different roads to get to the same place.” You hear that over and over and over: “Why can’t we just take different roads to get to the same place?”
Well, just a little common sense would tell you, all roads—although the old saying “All roads lead to Rome”—this isn’t true! I mean, we do have roadmaps, don’t we? Why wouldn’t there be maps for Heaven? Does God have anything to say about it? Is this just up to everyone? It does not make any sense.
Tom, I just got a new book by John Marks Templeton—Sir John Marks Templeton, remember? The man who gives the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. And we’ve been writing about him for some years…
Tom: And many evangelical luminaries have received this prize.
Tom: But why is it incredible?
Dave: The man is promoting a new world religion. And he tells you of that! He says, “We need a religion that everybody can agree on,” exactly what this questioner is saying—that even all the Extraterrestrials out there, no matter what planet they’re on, can agree on. It’s not dependent upon ancient documents like the Bible. Well, obviously, he doesn’t believe that God has any rules. He’s not going to allow God—in fact, he makes it pretty clear that God is some kind of a “higher power” that you tap into with your mind, and you turn your Positive Thinking into God’s power, so you run the universe. And if it’s positive, and so forth, it’s okay.
I noticed the subtitle, and I just got this and just started looking at it today, earlier. I can’t even remember what the title is, but I remember the subtitle: “Paths to Heaven on Earth.” “Paths”—so, there’s more than one way to get there. But I—at first I thought, “Oh, these are the paths on earth that lead to Heaven.” No, no! He doesn’t believe in Heaven. He believes we make our own Heaven or hell on this earth. And you remember that from prior writings.
But he’s got writings from all kinds of religions in there: “Isn’t it wonderful…and just be positive…and just think good thoughts…and this will lead to the world religion, and then we can all get along with one another.” I’m sorry, Tom. Well, you know—anybody listening with any common sense knows—maybe I shouldn’t say that, but I begin to lose patience. This is absurdity to the max! “Oh, I can just do anything I want? God doesn’t have any….”
I’m going to get to God’s heaven”—He did create this universe. He created me, and He’s put a lot of rules out there, didn’t He? We have rules of chemistry, aerodynamics…
Dave:Right. You’ve got a guy in an airplane, flying the airplane, and he tells the passengers (Whoo! I wouldn’t want to be on it!): “Well, folks, I’m not so narrow minded and dogmatic as to imagine that there’s only one way to fly this plane, or that there are any rules about it! I know we’ve got a lot of buttons up here. I’m just gonna start punching buttons and see where it takes us, ‘cause I think one direction—up or down—is as good as any other.”
Come on! You go to a doctor, and you say, after he’s examined you, “Doc, what’s the diagnosis and the prognosis?” And he says, “Well, I wouldn’t be so narrow minded and dogmatic as to presume to come up with a definite diagnosis. What would you like? Open-heart surgery has been popular. Or I could transplant a kidney! I think everyone is entitled to the operation of his choice.”
Well, I think everyone is entitled to the operation of his choice. But every operation isn’t going to meet your need. [chuckling] If you need your appendix taken out, it’s not going to help to take your heart out. That is counterproductive, to say the least. But, “Oh, anything goes with God. He’s got no rules.”
Tom, it just is absurdity itself. Now I often say—you know the popular saying—in fact, I just asked an audience this last weekend: “How many of you have heard the saying, ‘We’re all taking different roads to get to the same place’?” Almost every hand goes up. Some people are too lazy to raise their hand, so I think everybody has really heard it. And I said, “Well, that passes for broadmindedness. Every road—all—we’re all taking different roads. Oh, you can take any path you want! That’s very broadminded.”
But wait a minute! Tom, most people don’t think. That really bothers me. And I say that to myself! I need to think more properly and carefully. That’s very dogmatic, because there’s only one destination by this saying. We’re all taking different roads to get…where? To the same place! “Oh, they’ll let you take any road you want! That’s broadminded. Take any religion you want. That’s okay. Believe anything you want. We’re all gonna end up in the same place.”
By God’s grace, I’m not going there. I’m going somewhere else. Jesus wasn’t so narrow minded and dogmatic as to say there’s only one destination. He said there’s two! Heaven and hell. And you are not forced to go there. And this is what this person is talking about—to force someone into one—no, we’re not forcing anyone into a belief. We’re laying out the facts. Guys, here it is. It’s a matter of justice. We have sinned.
I once made the mistake of asking my audience—I don’t do it anymore—“Anybody in this audience that has never sinned?” And a little old lady about in her 80s in the front row raised her hand! I didn’t know how to deal with that! [laughing] Her granddaughter told me later that it wasn’t true! [laughing] But if somebody has no conscience, how are you going to deal with it?
We’re sinners. How are you going to handle sin—the penalty has to be paid? It’s a matter of justice. Tom, I’ve rambled on and on…you want to get a word in edgewise.
Tom:Well, Dave, I want to quote from another book that we offer, because I think it really brings a perspective here that’s worthwhile. Last week, I mentioned the book that we’re going to offer, The Sword of the Prophet. One subtitle is Islam: History, Theology, Impact on the World. And of course, the…you couldn’t call it the subtitle because it’s above the title, but it says, “The politically incorrect guide to Islam.” And it’s by—I’ll probably pronounce this name differently each time I say it—but it’s Serge Trifkovic.
Tom: And one of the thing he mentions, and it’s related to our question…
Dave:Terrific book, Tom.
Tom: Yeah. The idea that all religions are the same, basically—now somebody who says that either doesn’t believe it, or they’re deluded, and it’s a very dangerous thing, according to Serge here.
Dave:Let me just give a quick comparison. Buddhism is atheism—there’s no god, basically. Hinduism has about 330 million gods. Muslims say Allah is one God—a single God. Don’t say Trinity! Christians believe in one God in three Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Now how could you say that those are the same?
Tom: Mm-hmm. And, according to our author here, these differences are serious enough for us to be very concerned about. I just want to quote from the book:
“The tragedy of September 11, 2001, and its aftermath have shown yet again that beliefs have consequences. The centrality of Islam to the attacks is impossible to deny. Our opinion formers, inflexible in their secular, liberal, ideological assumptions, deny it nevertheless. They do not take religion seriously. Instead of pondering the complex problem of the relationship between Islam, the West, and the rest, they assure us that no ‘religious problem exists.’ Some of them, at least, seem to believe their own assurances, so that the most outspoken character witnesses for the hastily nicknamed ‘religion of peace and tolerance’ were non-Muslims. Sunday morning popular entertainers, academicians, steeped in political correctitude and politicians—their claims about the supposed distinction between real Islam and its violent aberrations were crudely ideological, based on their simple conviction that all faiths, having equal legal privileges, must, in some sense, be equally good, true, and hence, capable of celebrating all others in the spirit of tolerance.” Wow!!
Dave:Well, Tom, you get a little bit discouraged. As I said, I was speaking last weekend about Islam, and a Muslim in the audience challenged me. He was upset that I was using Saudi Arabia as an example of a Muslim country. [chuckling] I mean, that’s where it began!
Dave:Right. And he said, “That’s not right! Don’t be using Saudi Arabia as a Muslim country. It’s not a Muslim country!” Well, some people talked with him afterwards and challenged him, “Well, what is a Muslim country?” He thought, and he thought, and he finally said, “I think America is the closest thing to a Muslim country!” [laughing] Come on! Because it has “peace” and “Islam is peace.”
Another man challenged me, “What Muslim countries have you lived in?” Well, I’ve just quoted Muhammad himself, I’ve quoted the Qur’an, I’ve quoted the hadith, I’ve quoted centuries of history of what they have lived, what they have done—and we must throw all that aside because he lived in Somalia and he had some wonderful Muslim neighbors who were kind?
Someone else says, “Yeah, terrific guy, my neighbor. I thought he was wonderful until we found out that he was eating humans out of his refrigerator. Jeffrey Daumer.” Hitler seemed very loving to some people. But that’s not even apropos.
What does the religion teach? You can’t make up your own Islam. And you can’t make up your own Christianity, and there are differences! So, Tom, what these people are doing—for example, John Marks Templeton, Sir John Marks Templeton, and the ecumenists—they are trivializing truth. Some New Ager (and I’ve had this experience a number of times) says, “Oh, I agree with you! We’re saying the same thing but with different words!” I say, “Don’t you dare say that to me! You are trivializing what I’m saying. You are not taking me seriously! What I am saying is absolutely the opposite of what you are saying! Talk about freedom of thought! Talk about everybody has the right to their own opinion! You are not giving me the right to my opinion. What I am saying, and I’m basing it on the Bible, is absolutely contrary to what you’re saying, and then you’re telling me I’m saying the same thing with different words? Come on, don’t words have any meaning? You are just running roughshod. You’re bulldozing me out of the way! You’re not taking my beliefs seriously, in the name of ecumenism.
So these people are trying to make all religions say the same thing, and they are not taking them seriously. There are serious beliefs—and that’s what Trifkovic is trying to say—these guys had some beliefs that drove their actions. And, you know, some of the hijackers, they were late for the plane. And they left their rented cars, with their suitcases and everything in there—all their effects—ran to the plane, so we know what they were up to! We have the rituals they went through to purify themselves. We have all their prayers, and so forth. The whole routine—it was all in the name of Allah. It was to further the cause of Allah and Islam on this earth. And then, to deny this? “Oh, they didn’t know what they were talking about….”
Well, Tom, I know you’ve got much to say. Let me just put in another word here—what they are doing is, they are really blaspheming the Qur’an. They’re saying, “Oh no, the Qur’an doesn’t really mean what it says.” They are trivializing Muhammad—his life—his teachings. They are denying that Muhammad really meant what he said, or they are saying, “Well, Muhammad himself was a terrorist, because this is exactly what Muhammad did. So when you say that these men were extremists, then you’re saying, Well, Muhammad was an extremist, too, because they got their example from him.” So the founder of the religion was an extremist? Then who is it that is defining real Islam?? I’d like to know! It’s the liberals who are defining “real Islam,” and they’re putting their read on this and saying, “Oh, this is what it is. It’s peace, love, and brotherhood”—in contrast, in contradiction of all of the teachings of Muhammad and his example, of the Qur’an, of the hadith, and of the centuries of history—what Islam did, spread by the sword. Tom, I’m sorry, I get weary.
Tom: Dave, earlier, before we started our taping, we were talking about a pastor who was involved with the World Council of Churches, was involved with religious hierarchy within Methodism—and not just to pick on them, because we could pick a denomination—but the thing that shocked him, and it relates to this, he said, “These people don’t believe in it! They don’t believe in…They’re here for a particular reason. You could call it patronizing; you could call it a liberal social concern for people. But when it comes to God, forget it!
Dave: Look, whoever’s out there listening. I don’t know what your thoughts are, but, look. Let’s “dialogue” about mathematics, okay? I mean, I think it is so narrow minded and dogmatic. 2 + 2 is 4. I get tired of hearing “2+2 is 4; 5x5 is 25…” It just drives me up the wall! Why can’t we let 2+2 be 5? Or maybe 6? Sometimes, at least. Come on! Well, you adopt a mathematics like that, your buildings will fall apart, your bridges will collapse. You will never get astronauts to the moon, I guarantee you. In fact, you won’t get them off the ground.
There are certain rules—physical laws—that God has put into this universe. Now what is more important—spirituality, or eating and drinking? What separates man from beasts? Well, they have appetites, they sleep, and so forth, but we worship God. What God? What is worship? Does He have any rules? You would have to confess that getting to Heaven, the rules would be far more strict than in the physical world, and Jesus said, “Strait is the gate, narrow is the way, that leads to life, and few there be that find it.” The Scripture says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, the end thereof are the ways of death.” That tells us that God—He sets the rules, and you think it’s okay to take your own way, you are going to end up on the short end of this, because God is just, He is holy, He is pure, and it’s just unreasonable to imagine that God will change His laws, that He will change His righteousness, His holiness, to suit mankind. It isn’t going to work that way.
So Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life; no man comes to the Father but by me.” Now, whoever you are out there, you’re going to have to either say Jesus was a liar, or he was a lunatic—a self-deceived ego-maniac, or he was who He claimed to be. And when you study the life and the death of Jesus, you cannot deny that He is who He claimed to be.
Now, you have to deal with Jesus. We had a song we used to sing—a hymn—many, many years ago: “What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be. One day your soul will be asking, What will He do with me?”
And joining an ecumenical movement, and dialoguing from now until the end of your life is not going to change that at all any more than you can change 2+2 is 4.
Tom:Dave, we just have about a minute left—a minute and a half. The way this questioner—the last part of this questioner’s question is—he talks about “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Now I started off by saying you can be sincerely wrong. But sincerity—does that cut it?
Dave:Tom, you can’t really be sincere driving down a one-way street with the arrow pointing in the opposite direction of which you’re going. You can’t say that you are “sincere” when you just abandon all the rules. You have to have rules even to play a game. You can’t play Tiddlywinks. You can’t play soccer. That’s why we have referees in the NBA and the NFL—because you’ve got to have rules for anything. And then for a person like this to say God can’t have any rules—He doesn’t have any rules, I’m sorry! I don’t believe this person is sincere. I believe that they are willfully rejecting what their common sense, their logic, that everything in this universe and in their conscience tells them, and certainly what the Bible tells them. They’re willfully going against God. How can you be sincere when you violate the rules that you know there are?