Wednesday night in Eau Claire an interfaith event at UW-Eau Claire’s Ecumenical Religious Center drew an estimated 250 people. Seeking unity and peace, those in attendance prayed and sang together. What could be the harm in that?
We spent a whole hour talking about this Thursday on my “Front Page” show on WWIB and WWIB.com. A variety of people called and e-mailed in their reactions. Personally, as an evangelical Christian, while I desire to show respect to people of all faiths and engage them in interfaith dialogue, I couldn’t in good conscience wholeheartedly participate in an event like the one held Wednesday night in Eau Claire. When Jesus Christ said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man shall come unto the Father except by me,” I believe him. As politically incorrect and exclusivist as it may sound, I believe Jesus is the ONLY way to God. So how could I and/or why would I go sing and pray with others who don’t believe that? Befriend them–yes! Dialogue with them–absolutely! But pray and sing together, it’s just not for me.
Pastor Mike Thompson of Faith Free Church in Stanley e-mailed in these thoughts:
“First, as a pastor, there are some causes that i could work alongside a diversity of groups to advance. For example I could work with Catholic, Muslim, Atheist or just about anyone to prevent or reduce the occurrence of the murder of the unborn.
In the essentials and related to core doctrine there must be exclusivity. in other words, if we are to worship or pray together we must understand that God Himself is invested in some core doctrines that can not be set aside. Why can we NOT set aside core things such as The Trinity, Salvation by Faith alone and other doctrines included in our statement of faith? Because we are here for the glory of God. And if we are rightly glorify God then we must approach the right God and we must approach Him in the way that He demands.
If there are some religions with whom I gather (Bahai & Hinuism) that are channeling spirits and the word of God demands that we do not channel spirits but instead seek the one true God….how could I possibly gather with those channeling spirits and remain faithful to God?
I would gather with them to protest against murder. I would not gather if it were in any way sending the signal that praying channeling spirits was acceptable to God or my faith. That would be the equivalent to denying my faith.
So, does this gather require me to set aside core doctrine. core is in clearly communicated in God’s word?
We should have dialogue with many different people. We should be serving people from all faiths. That is part of how we share the love of Jesus Christ. But in the post modern world there is a demand that I deny my core tenents and call all thigns equal even if my scriptures state otherwise.
Thank you for taking on this topic.”
After today’s show on WWIB had ended, I received the following very thoughtful e-mail from Dave Paukner in Chippewa Falls:
“Some hurried thoughts in no particular order.:
1. Interfaith events, by name imply, a setting aside of “faith” matters in order to assemble. If not true, we would just call the event a State Fair. That’s why this is troubling to me and always has been. It actually has a humanistic bent. Maybe that is what bothers you about it. It bothers me. It becomes an assembly of people who are proud that their faith does not interfere with loving other people.
Now, if you want to go to a football game, grocery store etc… where people of other faiths convene, by all means let them see how you live. Let your(His) light shine before all men, but do not put the light under a bushel as these events often require. If Jesus is not common ground, which he is not, how can one even entertain the efficacy of such an event? Even a missions minded person should not be deluded that Jesus would be OK with us asking him to stay home and not attend because we want them to know Him. Sounds silly to me.
2. In regard to the “question” from Medford, Jesus did in fact speak to denominations during his ministry, as there were different “schools” of Judaism at that time. There were Pharisees and Sadducees, along with Rabbinic schools of Shammai and Hillel (Spellings might be wrong). There were Hellenistic Jews and Samaritans too. When He engaged them, He never set aside the truth. He more often than not, upset them, as they had grievous errors in their beliefs about God and Torah. Jesus never convened a feel good assembly where peace was the focus. In fact, His primary purpose for coming was Truth! Something He tells Pilate, a non believer, but not at a peace rally.John 18:37
3. He corrected the Pharisees to the point of telling them their father was the Devil. John 8:44
4. Jesus in the Book of Revelation warns the Church in Ephesus that He saw the good works they were doing, but they had forgotten their first love, (Rev 2:4 KJV).
God first, everything else second. God is a jealous God. Relegating God to any position, other than number one runs the risk of turning into humanistic philosophy. In making disciples, we must first be a disciple. A process that our culture has completely watered down. It is a process of knowing and loving God first and foremost, which Jesus said is the first and greatest command. The second greatest command to love our neighbors as ourselves is second for a reason. Without the first commandment being first and obeyed (have no other gods before me), the second greatest command is pure humanism wrapped in religious sound bites and trimmings.
5. The Apostle Paul prayed for doors to be opened for the Gospel, not “Rodney King” style peace rallies. He illuminated the Old Testament (Tanakh) and showed Jesus and the Gospel in those writings.. Also, for the most part Paul spent his time in the Synagogues, teaching from the sacred text. How many times was he harassed and beaten for doing so? A lot! His message was offensive to some and foolish to others, yet he never set it aside.
6. Grace and peace are only multiplied when we, focus on the knowledge of God and our Lord Jesus,. 2 Peter 1:2-8″
So, in conclusion, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s befriend and dialogue with those from every faith under the sun, but let’s save our prayers and songs for the King of Kings and Lord or Lords, the crucified and risen Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.