Truth in other faiths?
Last week, I wrote a post about a Hindu myth that taught a moral lesson compatible with Christian belief, namely, that self-sacrifice leads to moral reflection on the part of the persecutor. I then asked the question how is it possible that non-Christian religions can contain ideas compatible with Christianity? In the film “Holy Wars”, after clearly establishing a no-compromise approach regarding the identity of Jesus and the necessity for a decision to be made regarding Him, I make a point to say that we Christians, if we are to gain credibility in the modern world, we have to see that there is goodness in other people and in other faiths.
Lest anyone think that I have now become a pluralist (the idea that all religions are culturally conditioned and are therefore equally valid), I feel that I must make a case from Scripture that, although non-Christian religions are largely under the domain of darkness, truth and goodness can still be found in them.
There was a Christian who lived 2,000 years ago who would agree with what I just said. His name was, surprisingly, the Apostle Paul. How do I know that? If you read Acts 17:22-32 carefully, you will discover that, although Paul was addressing idol worshipping pagans, he didn’t write their religion off completely. Consider this startling statement: “Therefore, the one whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you.” Think about this for a moment. These were idol worship pagans who just happened to build an altar to an unknown god. Paul tells them that they were actually worshipping God without knowing it. That’s rather generous, don’t you think?
Consider also, that, in this passage, Paul quoted from a pagan philosopher who wrote in a preceding time,”For we are also His offspring.” In response, Paul says, “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God….” Paul agreed with a pagan philosopher! This shows that Paul expected to find truth even among people outside the realm of Biblical revelation.
This should not surprise us. Paul also says in Acts 14:17 that God has not “left Himself without a witness.” Ecclesiastes says that “God has placed eternity in the hearts of men.” If Jesus really is, as the Apostle John says “the true light which lighteth every man coming into the world,” then we should expect every man to have some degree of light. The light, by the way, is Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word who existed with the Father before time began.
I realize that what I have written brings up a lot of questions. I’ve barely scratched the surface in presenting the evidence to back up my case but, trust me, there is much more. The bottom line is this: non-Christian religions are a mixture of truth and error. Jesus Christ, the eternal God made flesh, is the final revelation that all men must come to know. It is our job as Christians to point men and women everywhere to the loving and gracious God revealed in Jesus Christ.