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How Does God View People of Other Religions?

By on January 6, 2019

Series: Christianity and World Religions

Today: How Does God View People of Other Religions?

Rev. Laura Brewster

Introduction. Read about the magi in Matthew 2:1-2, 8a, 9-11. Magi comes from the Greek word magoi which can be translated as wise men, astrologers, magician or sorcerer. However, in this context the word likely refers to priests in the Zoroastrianism religion. On Epiphany we remember and celebrate how God reaches out to all people – even those who practice other religions.

This epiphany, we will use the story of the magi as a starting for a sermon series designed to answer some of the questions we have about other religions. We will do so for two reasons: 1) Jesus told us to go into the world to make disciples of all the nations. However, we cannot do so effectively if we do not first study what others already believe. 2) We are asked to be peacemakers in our conflicted world. However, we cannot be effective in seeking peace in our world and in loving our neighbor if we do not first understand our neighbors.

A lot of the material I will be sharing today is from the book “Christianity and World Religions” by Adam Hamilton. I have found his research to be helpful and thought provoking, and I would like to share it with you.

Why Are There So Many Religions? Why haven’t we all found one clear pathway to a relationship with God and to an eternal life with God? One factor involves how we learn. Different people can be offered the same experience by God and arrive at a different conclusion about God. Another factor is that God has taken a slow and gradual approach to how much he reveals about himself. Even now, we who accept Jesus do not understand everything about God. As the apostle Paul wrote, “We know only in part…. For now we see in a mirror, dimly.” Because of these and other factors, it should not surprise us that human beings in different places and times have come up with different ideas regarding the divine.

How Are We to View People Who Practice Another Religion? Many Christians adopt some form of one of the following stances. 1) Pluralism. This position holds that all religions are basically the same and all religions point to God. The problem is that all religions are not the same. Additionally, some religions are started by people who are simply deluded. Example: the Branch Davidians. 2) Exclusivism. Christians who hold to the most rigid form of this position believe that persons who do not accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior will be condemned to hell. Supporters of this position quote passages such as Acts 4:12 which says, “There is salvation in no one else [Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” Those who argue against this position say that passages like Acts 4:12 can be interpreted in different ways. 3) Inclusivism. This stance suggests that people of other faiths are following God to the best of their knowledge and will be judged by God according to how well they live in response to the knowledge given to them. Those who advocate this position point to passages such as Acts 10 where we are told about a man named Cornelius who pleased God even though he was not a Jewish or Christian.

Why Share Our Faith? If it is true that God will not automatically damn the adherents of other religions, but will instead judge them according to his mercy, why should we continue to share our faith with others? We continue because we know that God came to us as Jesus, so Jesus is the “most complete picture we have of God”, and we want people to know the God of love as we know the God of love. We share our faith because if they respond and follow Jesus, they too will know the peace, joy, hope and love that come from following him. Finally, we share our faith because he asked us to. Sharing our faith is not optional. The only option is how we will share our faith. We can be judgmental or antagonistic and lose our “audience.” Or, we can be respectful and perhaps be heard by the people we are seeking to reach in the name of Jesus.

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Contemporary Worship 9:00am - Sunday Study Groups 10:10am - Traditional Worship 11:00am

7050 Village Center Drive, Austin, TX 78731 512.345.1743 info@NWHillsUMC.org