Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Jesus said “No one comes to the Father except by me.” It is clear then that not all religions are equal; that not all religions are true; and that not all religions lead us to God. Those that reject Christ lead us away from him.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen. (Psalm 19:14)

In our pluralistic society today, we often hear people say that what someone believes in isn’t as important as that they believe in something. This come from a well-intentioned, but misguided, view that all religions lead to God.

It sounds so restrictive to claim that there’s only one way enter the kingdom of God. People say, “if being a Christian works for you, that’s great; I’ve got my own religion that works for me,” or “I’m not into religion,” or similar remarks.

There is a law of logic called the law of non-contradiction which states, in the words of Aristotle, that “one cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time.”

We understand that this music stand cannot both be a music stand and not be a music stand. A thing can not be something and also not be it. So a religion that claims Jesus is God is not the same as a religion that says Jesus is not God. Both cannot be correct. One of them has to be wrong.

The notion of “what’s true for you may not be true for me” is as wrongheaded today as it was in A.D. 49 when the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the churches in Galatia.

He begins the letter admonishing them for accepting other rules and stories besides the Gospel of Jesus Christ that he delivered to them. They knew the truth, but felt inclined to accept other ideas as also being true. Sound familiar?

So Paul let them know, in very definite terms, that there is one Savior, Jesus Christ, whom we are to follow if we are truly obeying God.

This week, an article in the Seattle Times detailed the new-found spiritual dysfunction of an Episcopal Priest in Seattle:

The Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church said, “I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I’m both an American of African descent and a woman. I’m 100 percent both.”

She has been a priest for more than 20 years, and was director of faith formation at St. Mark’s. Now, she’s telling the world about her adherence to Islam, causing confusion for both Christians and Muslims.

Christians believe Jesus is God and Muslims believe he was merely a prophet. Christians believe Jesus died on the cross and Muslims believe Jesus did not die on the cross. The law of non-contradiction clearly an issue in comparing Christianity and Islam, and the core beliefs are not compatible.

Redding has a Ph.D. in New Testament from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and master’s degrees from two seminaries. She plans to begin teaching the New Testament this fall as a visiting assistant professor at Seattle University, a Catholic school.

According to the Seattle Times article, she was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1984 but has always challenged her church, calling Christianity the “world religion of privilege.” She believes that Jesus is the son of God insofar as all humans are the children of God, and that Jesus is divine, just as all humans are divine — because God dwells in all humans.

So to avoid the law of non-contradiction, Redding merely discards the core beliefs of both faiths in her effort to be accepting and inclusive of both religions. The saddest part of this is that her bishop, Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, thinks the “interfaith possibilities are exciting,” as though this is some great new celebrating diversity campaign.

Remember, these are clergy who have taken vows before God “to be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” Other denominations have their own problems with clergy not following the Gospel, but this particular episode this week happens to be an Episcopal priest and her bishop.

This is why Paul’s message to the Galatians is so important to us even 20 centuries later. We need to understand that the Gospel is true and that all of its claims about Jesus are true. Many of us have modified the Gospel without realizing we’ve changed it, and think we believe the truth.

George Barna leads a Christian research group and discovered some things about Christian beliefs. In his research during 1996 and 1997, Barna discovered that many professing Christians believe that people are inherently good, that our primary purpose is to enjoy life, and that our most important responsibility is to take care of our family. He also found that:

• 81% believe that the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves.

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