Friday, May 14, 2010

One Road or Many?

In the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker states a strong opinion about the Christian doctrine that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. She took aim at Franklin Graham who was jilted by the Obama administration for his belief that non-Christian religions such as Islam and Hinduism are evil because they pull people away from the truth. She sites statistics saying that 47% of Protestant pastor view Islam as “a very evil and very wicked religion.” I actually find that shocking. I expected it to be higher. Have we learned nothing from 9-11? She also sites a survey that shows that nearly two-thirds of evangelicals under 35 believe non-Christians can go to heaven, vs. 39% of those over 65. She also mentions a study in which it is revealed that our brains light up the same way when we pray, no matter to whom we pray.

I have a few things to say about this. That’s a scary thought if two-thirds of young evangelicals believe that non-Christians can go to heaven. Why is that scary? Because that means we’ve gotten our eye off the ball. Even if these Christians are truly Christians and have trusted Christ as their personal savior, if they believe that non-Christians can go to heaven then they will have no incentive to preach the gospel. If our only incentive is to have larger churches we will focus our attention on the people we are most likely to win and assume the others are okay since they at least have a religion. We need to get it through our heads that hell real, people are going there and God is the judge who will send them there. If a judge tells you what you need to do for forgiveness and you don’t do it, it doesn’t make sense that the judge would forgive you anyway.

Now, does it really matter what part of our brain lights up when we pray? Does it matter that a Hindu can pray and light up the same area as a Christian? Let’s compare that to radio transmitters. If I send a signal on one and you send a signal on another, don’t you think they are going to function in about the same way? Sure they would. The big question is whether or not there is someone on the other end to receive the signal. Prayer is nothing unless we are praying to a living God. People talk about how powerful prayer is, but that isn’t true. It is God who is powerful. Prayer to a dead god will result in nothing.

If some of what Kathleen Parker says is true, the future of Christianity is bleak. She doesn’t see it that way because she says, “transcending the notion that only some prayers are the right ones might get us closer to the enlightenment we purportedly seek,” but what she says would indicate that the younger generation is getting farther and farther from the core beliefs of Christianity. And yet, that isn’t what I’m seeing with many of the young Christians I know. Many young Christians are as dedicated or even more dedicated to the faith than their parents. Despite the statistics Kathleen Parker mentions, I keep seeing strong indications that God isn’t through yet.