Are non-Christian religions (such as Islam) preferable to atheism?

Rob Banks

Pelican
OK, so if a minority of Muslims find faith and come to Christ, that is good and they should be encouraged to do so.

But if a Muslim, who comes from a devout Muslim family and Muslim community, encounters Christian missionaries and rejects them in order to remain Muslim, can we really blame him? If this person chooses not to reject his (Muslim) family and culture, will God really reject him for this?

Contrary to what most Americans believe, conformity and submission to your culture's traditional values is a good thing.

P.S. I'm not saying that anyone of any religion can be saved. I believe that Christ is the only way. But I'm just wondering if it is correct to expect someone to reject their entire culture and family and to assume they are ultimately damned if they choose not to.

After all, if this hypothetical Muslim person encounters many different religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) how is he supposed to know that Christianity is the true one? Someone who grew up in a Christian culture knows this because all his family and nation follow Christianity, so obviously it is true. But how is someone from a Muslim culture supposed to know this?
 

redbeard

Hummingbird
Moderator
But if a Muslim, who comes from a devout Muslim family and Muslim community, encounters Christian missionaries and rejects them in order to remain Muslim, can we really blame him? If this person chooses not to reject his (Muslim) family and culture, will God really reject him for this?
Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household.

He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it.


Matthew 10:34-39
 

Rob Banks

Pelican
@redbeard

I'm not saying a man should put his family or his nation above God. Obviously, God comes before everything else.

I'm saying that obedience and adherence to one's family and culture is usually a good thing that leads one towards God, not away from Him. If your family and nation all believe certain things about God, you can use this as a heuristic and infer that these things are probably true.

Is it really realistic -- or even desirable -- to expect everyone to think independently, reach their own philosophical conclusions (separate from that of their family and tribe), and be prone to rebellious ways of thinking?
 

redbeard

Hummingbird
Moderator
I'm saying that obedience and adherence to one's family and culture is usually a good thing that leads one towards God, not away from Him. If your family and nation all believe certain things about God, you can use this as a heuristic and infer that these things are probably true.
Emphasis mine.

If your family and nation all believe that God doesn't exist, does that mean it's true?
 

Rob Banks

Pelican
No, but I think that religions with long traditions and histories such as Islam or Buddhism (among others), while they are not the Ultimate Truth, they contain enough truth (lowercase "t") that it would be reasonable for a person who grows up in that culture to believe it and structure his life around it. Such a person would see no need to convert to a foreign religion.
 
OK, so if a minority of Muslims find faith and come to Christ, that is good and they should be encouraged to do so.

But if a Muslim, who comes from a devout Muslim family and Muslim community, encounters Christian missionaries and rejects them in order to remain Muslim, can we really blame him? If this person chooses not to reject his (Muslim) family and culture, will God really reject him for this?
I think it depends on why the man rejected Christianity. In the 12th chapter of Matthew's gospel, some Jews rejected Christ and began speaking against his miracles, claiming that he drove out demons by the power of Beelzebub. Jesus told them that "whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him..."

In his 41st homily on Matthew, St. John Chrysostom explained it like this: it was excusable that these Jews did not yet accept Christ as the Messiah, because they didn't understand who he was. But given their religious history, they knew about the Holy Ghost and his action in the world. So it was inexcusable for them to speak against the Holy Ghost by claiming that the work of God was the work of demons.

Applying the same thinking to a Muslim rejecting Christian missionaries, there are many reasons why he might reject it, and they will affect his soul differently. The guy who fails to believe the Gospel because no one has given him reason to believe, I think it in a different place than someone who rejects what he knows to be right. Only God knows a man's heart and how to judge him accordingly.

Contrary to what most Americans believe, conformity and submission to your culture's traditional values is a good thing.
I can only agree if the traditional values of the culture in question are Christian. The pagans lamented the decline of traditional values when the Roman empire became Christian. But their traditional values needed updating based on what God had revealed.
 

Rob Banks

Pelican
...
I can only agree if the traditional values of the culture in question are Christian. The pagans lamented the decline of traditional values when the Roman empire became Christian. But their traditional values needed updating based on what God had revealed.
This is precisely my point.

The pagans in Europe did not have Christ, and in many cases flat out rejected Christ. This was obviously bad, but it doesn't mean there was no truth in their religion, or that they were necessarily bad people for rejecting Christianity and sticking with their traditional beliefs.

Christianity did not stamp out paganism. It actually incorporated pagan traditions and Christianized them. Christmas, for example, was originally a pagan holiday (the winter solstice). I don't think Christians would have done this if they believed the pagans who knew about and rejected Christ were all going to hell by virtue of their religious beliefs.
 

Rob Banks

Pelican
Also, I think all religions contain some truth (again, that's "truth" with a small "t"), but to different degrees. Religions like Islam, Buddhism, and (non-secular) Judaism contain a lot more truth than Voodoo and Wicca. I can't get behind the idea that all non-Christians are equally damned.

That doesn't mean that it's OK for a Christian to start practicing these other religions. But if somebody was raised in one of these other religions, then I think it's a lot more understandable for them to continue following it (after all, what reason do they have to convert?).

Not everybody is intellectual enough to read books and explore Christianity on their own (when their culture follows another religion), nor should they be. Religious traditions were meant to be passed down from generation to generation within a village, not to be adopted by virtue of reading and doing intellectual research.
 
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I don't think Christians would have done this if they believed the pagans who knew about and rejected Christ were all going to hell by virtue of their religious beliefs.
I think they fully expected the Pagans to burn, based on the bits of the Church Fathers that I've read. But the Christians certainly did have great respect for anything that they deemed salvageable from pagan culture. And we definitely have more in common with Islam than with paganism, so I expect a great deal more from Muslim society would be able to remain the same if the Muslims became Christian.
 

infowarrior1

Ostrich
Indeed those who worship the god of Mohammed are quite possibly not worshiping God as those who accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Universalist garbage insists that everyone is worshiping the same god but it's not true. Some Jewish sects in fact can be inferred to be worshiping a greater demon which is a god to them but not actually God.

At best a Christian can only conclude that Mohammed was insane or a liar. At worst he was worshiping a higher demon and naming it his god, which is not God who gave us Christ. Alternately he was praying to God who Christians pray to but he was so delusional that he believed that God wanted him to slaughter people or enslave them.

Ipso facto he was insane, a liar, or actually mistakenly worshiping a demon, or some combination of the three. I don't really care which. None of those possibilities qualify islam as better than atheism because an atheist still has a straight path to God.

I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but that's the reality that true Christians must believe by definition. Universalists are simply more committed to inclusion than the truth insisted upon by the Bible and all Heavenly Revelations that have followed it.

The logic is simple.
Do you pray to the same god as Mohammed?
If yes, then you are not praying to God but something else, because Mohammed's "god" supposedly told him to do things and teach things that God would never order under His New Covenant brought by Christ.
So by definition if you are praying to the same "god" as Mohammed did, and you believe that particular deity indeed told him to do and teach the things he did and taught then you are by definition praying to something other than God who sent us Christ.

My best appraisal of islam is that it is basically New Testament fan fiction based around a non-canon character and written by people who are extremely infernally influenced, whether they know it or not. One of the demon's highest achievements is when they manage to trick someone into calling them god or convince people to knowingly worshiping them above God while granting them that title.
The "Angel" that Muhammad interacted with was a demon:

Whilst the Prophets of God have the Word of God come to them. They were never choked, thrown around or became depressed by the Angelic Experience such that they tried to kill themselves.
 

infowarrior1

Ostrich
I think they fully expected the Pagans to burn, based on the bits of the Church Fathers that I've read. But the Christians certainly did have great respect for anything that they deemed salvageable from pagan culture. And we definitely have more in common with Islam than with paganism, so I expect a great deal more from Muslim society would be able to remain the same if the Muslims became Christian.
Architecture and Music definitely for example.
 

infowarrior1

Ostrich
Also, I think all religions contain some truth (again, that's "truth" with a small "t"), but to different degrees. Religions like Islam, Buddhism, and (non-secular) Judaism contain a lot more truth than Voodoo and Wicca. I can't get behind the idea that all non-Christians are equally damned.

That doesn't mean that it's OK for a Christian to start practicing these other religions. But if somebody was raised in one of these other religions, then I think it's a lot more understandable for them to continue following it (after all, what reason do they have to convert?).

Not everybody is intellectual enough to read books and explore Christianity on their own (when their culture follows another religion), nor should they be. Religious traditions were meant to be passed down from generation to generation within a village, not to be adopted by virtue of reading and doing intellectual research.
Jesus preached to the dead when his body was in the Tomb:

18For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit, 19in whom He also went and preached to the spirits in prison 20who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

In the ark a few people, only eight souls, were saved through water. 21And this water symbolizes the baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge off a clear conscience toward God—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.

And I am sure that God will take into account whether they received the Gospel. Or whether in their lifetime they still searched for God.
24The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands. 25Nor is He served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26From one man. He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands.

27God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. 28‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’e As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’f 29Therefore, being offspring of God, we should not think that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by man’s skill and imagination.

30Although God overlooked the ignorance of earlier times, He now commands all people everywhere to repent.
31For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.”
 

redbeard

Hummingbird
Moderator
I don't think this is a worthwhile discussion. We don't know how God will judge us, or if atheists or Muslims will fare better.

Everyone here has heard the word of Christ, and it's our responsibility to make the most of it.
 
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