Friday, July 11, 2008

Weekend Devotion: Dogmatic Dinosaur

(I've been getting some interesting email correspondence recently. I think I may have offended a few folks and they are trying to get this blog terminated. I'll be sorry if that happens...I thought free speech was part of who we are. I know that I am a dissenter amongst so many, but weren't Calvin, Knox, and Melville?)

If we accept Christ and His teaching, can we adopt a world view that all religions are equal and bring us to God?

Podcast version here

Titus 1:9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Some people wonder why I get bent out of shape when it comes to teaching and preaching Christianity. Why can’t I just evolve like the rest of the world and accept different ideas from different cultures, giving other religions and faiths the respect they deserve? Why can’t I acknowledge that there are many ways to God and that Jesus is only one of them? Wouldn’t it be much easier on myself if I would just let go of my dinosauric doctrines and outdated teachings?

Like Paul, I am the chief amongst all sinners and cannot claim to be perfect in any way. So why do I ‘self-righteously’ insist upon the uniqueness and exclusivity of Christ? What makes me think that I have it all right and the rest of the religious world is totally wrong?

I struggle with this and wrestle with my doubts. At times, I would like to capitulate and be all things to all people, as Paul once suggested. But if I did that, it would be insincere and hypocritical. It wouldn’t be me, and if I cannot be true to myself, how on earth can I remain true to Christ?

Let me put it this way: if Christ is only one way to salvation, then He is a liar, a charlatan, and a cheat. He Himself states “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If there are other ways, other doors, and other rooms to be eternally with God, then Jesus has lied across the centuries and Christianity is a false religion. So for me, it all boils down to this: Christ is who He insists that He is, or He is the biggest liar in the Universe.

My own experience of Jesus is this: His promises are true and He is true to His words, therefore I cannot accept that other religions can find salvation through their understanding of what God is. If that makes me a dogmatic dinosaur in the world’s eyes, then so be it. I stand alone in Christ, I can do no other.

If you’re having trouble with accepting this, please take time to read one of the Gospels. Each time you read Christ’s own words, ask yourself these questions: does Jesus mean what He says, and if He does, what does that mean for me?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, our world is so different from New Testament times. We have more information about other people and their religions. We have more access to other religious ideas and thoughts. Please show us the truth about God and help us, in this religiously diverse world, to know what You would have us accept, express, and do. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to He writes the daily devotional: Heaven's Highway


Anonymous said...

Around my house, we all LOVE dinosaurs!

And Biblical teaching of course!

Preach on, brother!!

John Shuck said...

I don't know about any e-mails, Stushie. It wasn't me. That said, I don't have a problem per se with anything you write. It is your opinion and you are welcome to it.

The question I have is this: "Is Presbyterian Bloggers" your blog alone or is it a blog for the Presbyterian community, like say, Presbymergent is for the Presbyterian emergent community?

Are other Presbyterians allowed to contribute as posters, or are they allowed only to comment on what you post?

It seems to be billed as a blog for Presbyterians at large, not just you. I think this blog was written about in a news service as a blog for Presbyterians.

Yet you are the only one who seems to post. I wrote several months ago that I would volunteer to post a couple of times a week to add another voice. I didn't hear back, but e-mails get lost.

It would appear that if Presbyterian Bloggers is larger than Stushie, than others should be posting.

John Shuck said...

I just sent an e-mail to with this note:

This is a request to be added to the list as contributor to Presbyterian Bloggers.

John Shuck

John Shuck said...

And this is reply I received from that e-mail:

This message was created automatically by the mail system (ecelerity).

A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its
recipients. This is a permanent error. The following address(es) failed:

>>> (after RCPT TO): 550 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable

Stushie said...

John, I don't run the site. I just signed up to be a contributor to it about a year and a half ago, and have been contributing on a regular basis.

If no one else can sign up, then how about sending me articles which I will post unedited and give credit to the people who wrote, along with a link to them.

John Shuck said...

Thanks, Stushie.

And I want to thank you for being a contributor and for sharing your voice, and I mean that. Obviously, the other contributors couldn't keep up or whatever, but you kept on. Cool. I think Presbyterian Bloggers is a good thing to keep going.

So after my week in California, I would be glad to post something here. I hope that others would do so as well.

That should save you from whatever criticism you receive and obviously shouldn't.


Doug Hagler said...

So, Stushie, you're skipping an option that has to be open for me, since I respect other world religions and also don't think Jesus is a liar.

The other option is to ask, with the last 150 years of historical-critical scholarship, "Did Jesus say what Jesus said?" Jesus didn't write a scrap down as far as we know. So in reading the Gospel, we are reading the story of Jesus as told by a particular author or authors for a particular community for a particular purpose.

We have no guaranteed access to anything Jesus literally said. We can speculate and guess and hope and trust (or not), but we cannot *know*.

Given that room of not-knowing, I simply cannot bring myself to believe that God is so narrow as to open a door in only one culture, at only one time, for only a select group of people.

The God I believe in is just larger, and I hope more gracious, than that.

There is also the problem that every religion's sacred writings say, somewhere, that that religion is the "only way". So everyone in every other religion has just as much reason to believe only they are right as you or I have, Stushie. That realization also leads me to a more humble position with regard to the exclusivity of Christianity.

So I think that there are more options than either 1) Only we are 'saved' and 2) Christ is a liar and a fraud. I reject both with a clear conscience.

Stushie said...

Thanks John. I look forward to posting your articles. it should stir up a great deal of conversation around here.

Doug, can anyone say whether or not Jesus didn't say what He did, as written by the Gospeleers?

I prefer to stick with the original cast, as opposed to a bunch 19th century biblical scholars. My faith is is Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.