We are living in a world where tolerance of individual thought has given way to intolerance and open hostility toward free exchange of ideas. Facts and truth are ignored and drowned out by the mindless purveyors of baseless ideologies that have not one thread of truth in them. While some call this progressiveness, it is really a fall back to darker times.
Although inclusiveness sounds open to a variety of positions, today’s inclusiveness packs the court with a broadminded intolerance of any opinion that disagrees with it. Should I hold that the Bible is absolute truth, which I do, my expression of its positions on life’s issues are not tolerated in this day of professed tolerance. Jesus declared that He is the only way to Heaven.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
The discovery and reliance on absolute truth starts first with the Bible. There is no middle ground. The Bible condemns all world religions and claims sole inspiration from the One True God for itself. Biblical Christianity never seeks ecumenical partnership with the religions of the world. It actually rejects them as the antithesis of truth.
The world’s religions offer broad differences in origin, teaching and destination of their followers. They all do have one thing in common. All religions, apart from Biblical Christianity, teach that through good deeds and involvement in the rituals, sacraments, meditations and polity, acceptance is gained to deity. The Bible, on the other hand, repeatedly states no self-effort is accepted as payment for man’s sin debt.
Christianity stands alone as a bright red rose in a snow bank in comparison to the world’s religions. Man, who is finite, offended an infinite God. The debt then is an eternal debt. Man can pay if he chooses, but there is an eternal payment. Christ, Who is the God-man, was solely able to pay the eternal debt in a moment of time for an infinite humanity. That, and that alone, separates and condemns all others.
In reality, to conjure a religious system that detracts, dilutes or denies that truth is sheer blasphemy and will, with certainty, consign its followers to eternal judgment. That brings me to the topic of Ecumenism. Imagine if you can, Biblical Christianity giving credence to or validity to any religion system whose teachings are in opposition to its Biblical precepts. Impossible!
One can only conclude that there must be a mind — a planner behind this hodgepodge of a religious cauldron. This deviant mind intent on destruction of the genuine and validating the false must be well acquainted with religion and worship. The carefully constructed plan could not be one of denials. The facts are too strong for that! The plan must be one of imitation — a bit of truth here and there floating in a sea of error. The plan is centered around infiltration of the genuine with the one thing humanity craves: Self-exaltation.
The Bible records, in two accounts (Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28) the creation, rebellion and judgment of a beautiful angel named Lucifer (son of the morning). In pride, he declared himself equal with his Creator. His swift judgment consigned him to this earth where his hatred for God manifested itself in a desire to hurt man — the apex of God’s creation.
As children, we would sing:
The devil is a sly old fox.
If I could catch him, I’d put him in a box,
Lock the door and throw away the key,
For all the mean things he has done to me.
Though not wise but with superhuman intelligence, he devised a plan. He would fill the earth with religion. He understood that there is a hole in the heart of every created being that only God can fill. He proposed to fill that space with religion; a mongrel man-centered, ritual-based, self-exalting, do-something religion that leaves the true God and Christ out of it. To date, his plan has worked. Across the world, people gather to worship statues of the saints, figures of Buddha, reincarnated ancestors housed in the bodies of cattle, rats or monkeys. Sins can be washed away in a river, a pilgrimage to Mecca or a drop of water on a baby’s forehead.
Satan has planted the seed of cults and world religions whose preposterous manmade origins can only be explained by satanic involvement. We are told that we can become gods; that sickness and death are figments of our imagination; that Hell does not exist; that salvation is in keeping the Sabbath and dietary laws; and that the mediator to God is a Jewish woman. He has convinced some that baptism into a specific church is the only way.
Others are taught that the 144,000 witnesses of the Tribulation come from their number. Some claim to be the lost tribe of Israel. Farfetched? Actually, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. If I were the devil, I certainly would have a gameplan to deceive by flooding the market with all things counterfeit in order to distort and distract from the truth. He is patient and willing to wait generations to saturate entire nations and groups while always casting doubt on the One True God, His Son and salvation through His vicarious substitutionary sacrifice.
We are advised not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices (II Corinthians 2:11). Even major denominations that wear the Christian brand have not escaped his plan. The leaven of false doctrine has been kneaded into the dough. The smallest of herbs has become a monstrous tree with fowls lodging in the branches. The tares are growing beside the wheat. The Beast will ride this perverted religious system to power in the Tribulation.
I recall a dear lady, troubled in spirit, coming to me with the question, “Pastor, there are so many religions. How can anyone know which one is right?”
I explained to her that, though there are many names, there have always only been two. The one that comprises the majority, approach the Lord with full hands of self-effort and works as did Cain, who was rejected. The second like Abel, trusts in the blood of the Lamb and grace alone and is accepted.
The bar has been lowered and definitions rewritten so that the mantel of Christianity is worn by a host that never qualify Biblically. Belief systems that contradict one another cannot all be true. All roads do not lead to the same place. Christ’s declarations concerning Himself condemn to destruction all others who claim any difference. Ecumenicists foster the cruelest of lies.
Any attempt at refutation always leads to a chorus who cry out, “Intolerance!”
The conclusion is that there is a world filled with religion, and then there is Biblical Christianity. I have spent my life seeking to rescue the perishing from a lake of fire that will be filled from shore to shore with people who have the false hope of religion. The narrow empathetic claim of Christ being the only way of salvation must be given as the Gospel and believed in for salvation. He is the only way (John 14:6).
Dr. Jack Scallions serves as pastor emeritus of Fairview Baptist Church in Athens.