The Most Important Question Who is Jesus?
Pan • Greek god of shepherds, • nature, • and sexuality
Most Important Question of Life • Who Do You Say That I Am? • Inescapable Question in the Context of Religious Pluralism
Religious Pluralism and Evangelicals • Thirty-Seven Percent of White Evangelicals agree with Hindus that there are many Paths to God. • Lisa Miller, “We Are All Hindus Now” - Newsweek
Jesus in World Religions • Jesus is the closest thing the world has to a universal Religious Figure – Craig Hazen, BiolaUniversity • Almost every religion attempts to bring Jesus into their religious system.
Who Does Islam Say that Jesus Is? • Virginally Conceived • Miracle Worker • Sinless • Prophet • End-Time Figure • Mentioned nearly 100 times in the Qur’an
Who Does Hinduism Say that Jesus Is? • Jesus measures up as a Sadhu, a holy man. He preached a universal message, love of God and love of brother, which was beyond any sectarianism or selfishness. Jesus was one of those people who appealed from heart to heart, and that's what makes him such a good Hindu Saint.
Who Does Hinduism Say that Jesus Is? • In some forms of Hinduism, Jesus is one of ten (eighth) avatars of Vishnu. • Vishnu: god of love, benevolence, and forgiveness • Avatar: a Hindu term meaning “descent.” The manifestation of a god on earth in human or animal form.
Shaunaka Rishi DasDirector of the Oxford Centre of Hinduism • In my particular tradition, and among other Hindus, He is seen as much more, as an Avatar, specifically a Shaktavesha Avatar or an empowered incarnation. This means that God has sent Him to us for a specific mission to fulfill God’s will on earth
Who Does Buddhism Say Jesus Is? • In the Mahayana tradition, Jesus is a bodhisattva • Bodhisattva – an enlightened being – someone who has refused liberation from the wheel of samsara and out of compassion returns to assist others toward enlightenment.
Who Does Buddhism Say Jesus Is? • Dali Lama claims he is not worthy to be compared with Jesus because Jesus is a fully enlightened being
Who Do You Say Jesus Is? The Point • Since Jesus is by any measure the only universal religious person, a figure so towering that almost every religious body has to find a way to bring Him aboard in some capacity, it makes perfect sense to me that anyone on a religious quest should know where to start. • Craig Hazen, Biola University
Analogies of Religious Pluralism Blind Men and the Elephant Different Paths to Top of Mountain Medicinal Maze
Lessons from the Blind Men and the Elephant • Humans are similar to blind men groping in the darkness. • Christianity Agrees With This Claim • Each religion provides a unique answer to the riddle of the elephant of religious truth. • No blind person can arrogantly claim to possess exclusive truth
Problems with the BlindMen and the Elephant • Claim: Every religion is valid and we need to combine our answers to arrive at complete religious truth • A mosaic of answers to the riddle of the nature of the elephant does not accurately describe the truth about the elephant. • An assembly of spear, hose, fan, wall, pole, and rope does not equal an elephant.
Problems with the Blind Men and the Elephant • At least one man knows the truth – the rajah • The rajah (God) could tell the blind men the truth (revelation) about the nature of the elephant (religious truth) • The claim that no religion can know the truth is not a relativistic claim. This claim is an absolute claim. • The religious pluralist then believes in absolutes
Problems with the Blind Men and the Elephant • Maybe the elephant represents God • What if the elephant does not keep silent? • What if God communicated to groping blind men? • If so, Would the men be intolerant for passing on the communiqué from God?
Different Paths Up a Mountain • The followers of various religions ascend to the summit of the mountain (God) by different approaches • Some paths are more winding; some paths are more direct • All paths reach the summit eventually • Popularity: promote tolerance
Problems with the Mountain • Justifies Indifference to Truth Claims • Does not respect people – does not take people seriously • Does not promote tolerance. Crushes Dissent
Problems with the Mountain • Ignores Differences in Understanding Ultimate Reality • Christianity: Triune, Personal God • Hinduism: Impersonal God (Brahman) • Buddhism: Atheistic
Problems with the Mountain • Ignores Differences in the Human Condition • Christianity: Created In God’s Image, Fallen, Sinful • Hinduism: Divine but Ignorant • Buddhism: Nothingness
Problems with the Mountain • Ignores Differences in the Path of Spiritual Liberation • Christianity: By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone • Hinduism: Knowledge of Who You Really Are • Buddhism: The Loss of Desire Leading to Nirvana
Problems with the Mountain • Who Awaits You at the Top of the Mountain? • Buddhism: No One • Islam: Allah – non-Triune, Love not an attribute • Christianity: Jesus • Hinduism: Brahman (you)
Problems with the Mountain • Favors One Religion: Hinduism is the Default Position • “Whatever path men travel is My path; no matter where they walk it leads to Me.” – Krishna – Bhagavad-Gita • Other Religions Must Give Up Distinctives • Islamic Confession • Christians: Trinity, incarnation, atonement, resurrection
Medical Treatment • Set forth by Abu Qurrah – 8th century Arab Christian • A sick man receives various treatment proposals from a number of medical experts with differing qualifications (religious experts) • Decision Factors • Qualifications of Caregiver • Understanding of the Disease • Reasonableness of the Treatment • Likelihood of Success
Medical Treatment Applied to Christianity • Qualifications of Caregiver: The sinless life and resurrection mean that Jesus surpasses all other religious teachers (contrast others teachers) • Understanding of the Disease: • Disease is Sin not Ignorance (Hinduism) • Sin is the only empirically verifiable religious truth
Medical Treatment Applied to Christianity • Faith is Reasonable since humans are powerless to heal • Likelihood: Testimony of Transformed Lives
Maze • The religious landscape can be compared to a maze • One entrance into the maze and one way out of the maze • Many dead ends and obstacles • Is it intolerant to claim one way is superior to other ways?
World Parliament of Religions Chicago • Defender of Christianity – Rev. Cook • Illustrated the Truth of Christianity by Quote from Shakespeare • What can remove the spot?
Who Do You Say That I AM? • Virginally Conceived • Victoriously Sinless • Vicarious Substitutionary Death • Visible Ascension • Triumphant Return