(Continued from Universals or Particulars? Pt. 1)
The problem that I found with this author ‘s article was not that he was attempting to engage Hinduism in a non-aggressive manner, but that he did so at the expense of drawing a sharp dividing line between Christian truth and Hindu beliefs. In an increasingly apostate universalist–syncretist–antinomian post-postmodern American “Christianity,” should we be blurring such foundational distinctions? Are we not, thereby, adding to the self-refuting, unconsciously ironic “dialgoue” that would seek to eliminate Christ as we know Him (i.e. as the Word of God presents Him) – the absolutely unique, unmatched, Creator become flesh to save man from the wrath of God Almighty – in order to be more accepting, inclusive, and “mature”?
This is a serious consideration that I don’t see being made much in many of today’s churches. We’ve tried to appeal to shared particulars instead of making our appeal to universals.
Paul’s speech to the Athenian men is an appeal to universals that then leads into particulars about the Christian faith. Why have we inverted the movement? Have we uncritically accepted calls to “find common ground” with others who really share no common ground with us when it comes to matters of doctrine?
I think we have.
A great example of this can be found in how the author of this article chooses to end his section on Hiduism. He briefly touches upon Hinduism’s idolatry, urging Christians to not be too harsh in criticizing their behavior. Why? Because Israel, like the Hindus, practiced idolatry throughout its history and we don’t go ballistic on them, do we? No, he claims, but we actually appreciate this fact about them. Quoting from a pastor who shall remain nameless, he writes:
“…On a question of this nature the light, which is shed by modern historical and literary criticism of the Bible, is very helpful. Thanks to the patient research and industry of modern scholars, we have come to realize that growth of the Old Testament religion was continually impeded by lapses into idolatry…Gradually they were weaned away from idolatry…In course of time the children of Israel became entirely free from the temptations to idol worship and full aware of the nature of God as Spirit.
We do not dismiss the Old Testament because the story of Israel is tainted with idol worship. On the other hand, we find much value in the slow and toilsome growth of Israel towards clearer light about the nature of God and about the method of worshiping Him. The bhakti religion of India may be considered to belong to the spiritual level that is represented in the Old Testament. The faith and devotion and love which have been lavished on idols must be directed towards the one true God…” (p. 88)
Really? A “pastor” is claiming that Israel came to faith progressively, via a cognitive evolutionary process that really involves the acquisition of new information and the repeated practices that relate individuals/nations to said acquired information (i.e. new rituals)? A “pastor” made these egregious errors regarding the Biblical distinction between those who truly had faith and those who didn’t? A “pastor” disregarded the basic teaching of the New Testament regarding unregenerate man’s antagonistic posture toward “the one true God” (see, Romans 1 & 3)?
In an attempt to evangelize, some have sought “common ground” that just doesn’t exist, subordinating the New Testament’s own theological analysis of the Old Testament (that is to say, God’s commentary upon/lucid explication of God’s record of God’s people) to postmodern concepts in the process, and boldly contradicting some very plain teachings.
And this is something that is, unfortunately, becoming more and more commonplace. So now is a good time to state the following facts:
2. One either has saving faith, or does not. This is not a concoction bequeathed to us present day believers by Calvin and Luther, it’s purely Biblical (cf. Romans 4 & Galatians 4, et al). “Coming to faith” is not a cognitive evolutionary process, it is a gift from God posterior to regeneration. As R.C. Sproul wonderfully articulates, Regeneration Precedes Faith.
3. A denial of points (1.) and (2.), which are foundational tenets of Biblical Christianity, is intolerable heresy akin to the universalist-syncretist-antinomian (i.e. heretical) nonsense spewed by those of the Emerging Church movement.
Now, I’m not advocating that you burn your favorite Ravi Zacharias book, or call the author of this article a heretic. In fact, on the basis of the other articles in the book I would actually recommend this book to those who are looking to familiarize themselves with the contemporary challenges that Christians will face on the mission field.
What I am doing is asking you to be discerning, and to not compromise truth for the sake of winning converts to a Christ-less Christianity, perpetuating a religious money machine, or pleasing the world.
Why not follow Paul who presented the validity of his case on the basis of universals and then proceeded to explain and defend the distinct, pure, and absolutely unique truth of the gospel?
Why not follow in our Lord’s steps and divide truth from error, and the children of God from those who have no place in His family?