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Is it Unloving to Call Someone’s Beliefs False?

Question:  Why do Christians spend so much time and effort calling other beliefs wrong?  It would be better if they spent their time studying their religion and leaving others alone.

Answer:  This criticism is leveled at everyone who thinks they have the truth and are confident all other belief systems are false. When this particular accusation is aimed at me, it reveals some information about the questioner’s belief system.  No one is neutral and everyone has a worldview.  This question assumes some information that I need to expose.

I will use three worldviews to demonstrate how people view religious belief.   I will examine this question from the viewpoint of an atheist, pantheist, and a Christian.  In “bold” will be the assumption of the person asking the question.

1.   All religions are made up by the individual.  Atheism believes there is no God.  In the mind of the atheist since God doesn’t exist, all religions are manmade. They are created to satisfy a need such as life beyond death or to give purpose and meaning to existence.  They see God as some sort of theological Santa Claus giving all good gifts to his followers.

If all religions are made up then to tell someone their beliefs are false is the height of arrogance.  Who are you to say?  It would be similar to telling someone who loves chocolate ice cream he is wrong.  All religions become personal preferences.  Who are you to tell someone their mythical beliefs are false.  Fiction or make believe cannot be true or false.

The questioner is assuming his viewpoint is true and all other religious beliefs are false.  Is the atheist unloving?  I love to point this out.  In order for this assumption to be true, the atheist has to make his case God doesn’t exist.

2.   All religions worship the same God but have different ways of expressing that belief.  The pantheist holds this viewpoint.  Pantheism teaches that all is god and god is all.  Every material and immaterial thing is god.  The chair I am sitting on as I write this is god.  Since all is god then any distinctions we observe are simply illusions.

If all is god then all religions are equal.  Pantheists believe all roads lead to heaven.  An illustration they like to use points to multiple dirt roads that lead to the top of a mountain.  At the base of the mountain each road gives the impression they are vastly different and are headed in various directions.  However, if you view it from the top you’d see that all roads lead to the same peak.  This illustration attempts to show that even though all religions seem to vastly different, if you viewed them from above you would see all lead to the same god.  They also like to use the blind men and the elephant illustration to show all religions worship the same god.

If all religions are equal then to say one is superior to another is wrong and could be labeled unloving.  This violates the tenants of religious pluralism.  I once asked a pantheist what she thought of the statement Jesus is the only way to heaven.  She called that view primitive.  That was her “polite” way saying my view was wacked.  By her comments she demonstrated my road doesn’t lead the heaven.  What this exposes is all views that say they are the only way, cannot lead to heaven.  This demonstrates the pantheist assumption is self-refuting.

3.   There is only one religion that worships the one true God and all others are false.  Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and classic Christians hold this view.  It could be labeled an exclusivist viewpoint.

From the classic Christian standpoint it was Jesus who said He is the only way to heaven.  Speaking to Thomas and the rest of His disciples in John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”  There are at least 100 verses in the Bible that either directly or indirectly teach Jesus is the only way to heaven[1].  According to Christianity those who reject Jesus are destined for eternal punishment in hell.

Is it unloving for the Christian to tell someone their religious beliefs are wrong?  If the Christian worldview is true (matches the world as it really is) then the most loving thing a Christian can do is warn anyone who rejects the Biblical Jesus.  It is out of a heart of love the Christian shares his or her faith and tries to warn others of the dangers of their false beliefs.

Atheist magician Penn Jillette (Penn & Teller) had some kind words for a Christian gentleman who, after a show, shared his faith and gave Penn a Bible.  He said he was a kind man and was incredibly genuine in both his love for the show and his beliefs.  Penn said that if you really believe someone is going to hell, how much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize?  I think everyone should see this interview.  (Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhG-tkQ_Q2w )

Penn Jillette

Cover of Penn Jillette

Jesus commanded all Christians to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19).  He said we are to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8).  The Christian sharing the truth about Jesus is the most loving thing we can do for someone.



[1] Greg Koukl, Jesus the Only Way 100 Verses, Stand to Reason, 1995

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