Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Everyone has a Different Opinion"

Monday, I was in Atlanta, GA for a Christmas luncheon for the Intentional Community Evangelism (ICE) consultants. It was an awesome time of fellowship and we all received endorsements from the North American Mission Board as ICE instructors.

Our luncheon was held at a local restaurant. As the meal came to a close, our server brought the check to Victor, the Urban Strategies Consultant. Victor engaged her in spiritual conversation as she waited at the table.

Ava was from France - verified by her thick accent - and a practicing Buddhist. Victor shared a brief bit of his testimony with her and how Jesus said that he was "the way, the truth and the life. " Ava, responded, "we each have our own opinion."

Victor graciously ended the conversation with her and asked her to read the "Here's Hope" tract that he had given her.

I have been mulling this conversation over in my mind for two days. It represents the current stream of tolerance prevelant in our culture. There are several thoughts that I would like to share with you when responding to this absurd viewpoint (that everyone has a right to be right.)

First of all, when someone responds with this perspective they fail to realize that they are contradicting their personal belief about tolerance. You, as a Christian witness, are telling them that there is only one way to eternal life which is Jesus Christ. They are saying that they do not agree with you (that there is only one way to heaven.) Yet their disagreement with your viewpoint violates their belief that all religious viewpoints are equal (All paths lead to God.) If they were true to their position, they would give equal consideration to your viewpoint, rather than instantly disagree with you.

Second, the idea that spiritual matters are relegated to the realm of mere opinion invalidates all spiritual beliefs by reducing them to subjective ideas. Religion by definition deals with weightier matters such as the nature and purpose of the universe and morality. Religion then becomes a matter of what I like rather than what is truth. It can no longer speak to external matters.

Finally, it is impossible for two or more contradictory belief systems to simultaneously be true. I can't say that chocolate ice cream is the best dessert in the world while agreeing with your opinion that lemon pie is the best dessert in the world. While it is true that they are both desserts and have a few common ingredients, they each have completely different tastes, textures and calorie counts.

Christianity teaches that there is one, personal God who exists in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God redeemed humanity and opened the way to heaven by sending his Son to die on the cross for sin and raised Him from the dead. Buddhism teaches that God is an impersonal force that makes up all things and holds the universe together. Salvation - if you can call it that - is obtained through following the eight fold path which leads to Nirvana, a state of impersonal nonexistence.

If you have an opportunity to witness to someone that holds to this viewpoint, you must help them to see how illogical their position is by lovingly pointing out the contradictions within belief systems. Only then can you expose them to the claims of Christianity.

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