OUR MISSION: To guide those far from God into the new start found in Jesus Christ. 1 John 4:1-10 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognise the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 Is scepticism or faith on the ascendancy in the world today? The problem is how can we claim that Christianity is the only way and the only truth? 50 years ago the main barrier to world peace was political ideologies Today the main barrier to world peace is religious exclusivity EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 Two strategies that won’t work… First strategy The Call for Religion to Weaken Africa = has risen from 9% - 50% Christian in almost 100 years Korea = has risen for 1% - 50% Christian in almost 100 years China = will be similar to Africa & Korea in the next 100 years Source: Peter Berger – “Religion in a Globalizing World” (December 2006) 1 John 4:1 “…do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 Two strategies that won’t work… First strategy The Call for Religion to Weaken “...we mustn't make the mistake of thinking that religious diversity and religious views are merely intellectual or cognitive phenomena like political views. Behind the range of religious views there's a range of real spiritual influences. There's a spiritual and transcendent realm. Human beings sense it and want to connect to it. Everyone of us will worship something.” “The Letters of John: An Introduction and Commentary” – John R. W. Stott EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 Two strategies that won’t work… Second strategy Confine Religion to the Private Realm For this to happen two things must be agreed on… 1. All religions are equally valid paths to God 2. Never argue for values (in society) that are based on your particular religious view Who are “they”? 1 John 4:5 “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 The story of the six blind men and the elephant EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 “The only way you could know that none of the blind men had a grip on the entire reality of the elephant was if you could see the whole elephant. The only way you could tell the "story" is if you saw the whole picture. To take it a step further, the only way you could possibly know that every religion sees part of the truth is if you assume to see all of the truth... which is very thing you say no one has.” “It's incredibly arrogant and imperialistic to say that all religions are equal. There's an appearance of humility in saying that the truth is greater than anyone of us can grasp. It's an arrogant claim to a kind of knowledge which is superior to all others. The person must be asked, "What is this absolute vantage point from which you claim to be able to relativise all the claims these different scriptures and religions made?" When you say no one has a superior take on spirituality that in itself is a take on a spiritual reality which you say is superior to everyone else's!” “The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society” - Lesslie Newbigin EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 Keep your religion private! “… I am just telling you this… you have got to leave your religion at the door when you come into the public square. You’ve got to leave your views of truth and morality and right and wrong and religion at the door when you come into the public square. Because these things are based on faith and no one can ever adjudicate them and therefore you’re controversial and we will fight forever. No, let us all leave our religion in the private world and when we come into the public realm lets simply look for strategies that work. Let’s look at the problems that face us like education and poverty and these issues, and let’s just simply not look for strategies and policies that are in line with your view of religion or your view of truth or your view of right or wrong but let’s just find the ones that work.” “Religion as a Conversation – Stopper” - Richard Rorty EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 Keep your religion private! “To say religious reasoning must be kept out of the public square because its faith based and it’s controversial, is itself a faith based statement and controversial. Therefore on its own terms ought to be thrown out.” “Under God? Religious Faith and Liberal Democracy” – Michael Perry EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 Third strategy The Uniqueness of Christianity 1. The Origin of Jesus’ Salvation 2. The Purpose of Jesus’ Salvation 3. The Method of Jesus’ Salvation EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 Third strategy The Uniqueness of Christianity 1. The Origin of Jesus’ Salvation 1 John 4:2 “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” 2. The Purpose of Jesus Salvation “Biblical salvation lies not in an escape from this world but in the transformation of this world... You will not find hope for the world in any of the religious systems or philosophies of humankind... The Biblical vision is unique. That is why if someone says there is salvation in other faiths too; I ask them — ‘What salvation are you talking about?’ No faith holds out a promise of eternal salvation for the world — the ordinary world — that the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ do.” Dr. Vinoth Ramachandra EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 Third strategy The Uniqueness of Christianity 3. The Method of Grace 1 John 4:10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” These are the three things that are unique about Biblical Christianity EXCLUSIVITY 1 John 4:1-10 How can these three distinctions change us into agents of peace and reconciliation? 1. The Method of Grace 2. The Resurrection Jeremiah 29:5-7 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." 3. Jesus is God In Jesus Christ ultimate reality has become visible OUR MISSION: To guide those far from God into the new start found in Jesus Christ.