What About Challenges From other religions?
When you consider the idea of Truth and that anything that is not true is false, teachings other than what is true are false and a challenge to that truth. There are four non-Christian religions which I believe are important to have a knowledge about that indirectly or directly challenge Christianity. These four religions are Mormonism (Latter Day Saints), Jehovah’s Witness, Islam, and Wicca.
The primary reason I believe it is important to have a knowledge about the first three religions is because of their significant efforts to convert individuals to their teachings. If you haven't already, It is almost guaranteed that you will be approached by members of one or more of these three belief systems in an effort to convert you to their belief. With Islam, we see the significant effect on current events by radical factions, as well as the resultant forced conversions by these radical factions. I've included in this section the teachings of Wicca, not because Wiccans work at converting others to Wicca, but because of its popularity among young people. A phrase I have heard which shows the importance of what is believed is:
“If you have the right Jesus, you get everything.
If you have the wrong Jesus, you lose everything”
The primary reason I’m not covering religions other than these four in this section is because most other religions do not have a strong focus of making converts as is found in the first three religions, or that religions (other than the first three) expend significantly less effort to convert others than these three. Many, even many Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, consider both Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness to be Christian religions, consistent with teachings of Christianity. Islam (covered later), teaches the opposite of many of the main teachings of Christianity. The official web-pages of both Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness make claims to being Christian.
Are Mormons Christians?
“We are Christians in a very real sense and that is coming to be more and more widely recognized." Gordon B. Hinkley
Jehovah’s Witnesses – Who Are We?
“We do our best to imitate Jesus Christ and are proud to be called Christians”
Both Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness religions and their websites use terminology common to Christianity. Many look at this usage of the same terminology as a confirmation that Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness are Christian religions. However, when the meanings of the terms are compared as used by each religion, it is clear that Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe and teach the same as is taught in Christianity.
Some feel that since most religions teach about god, that they teach basically the same and followers of the different religions believe the same. In the Bible section I indicated Greg Koukl's illustration using aspirin and he quote showing that it's not the similarities that matter but the differences:
"While aspirin and arsenic are both white and come in powdered form, it is not the similarities but the differences that matter."
“When studying religions, the point is not to focus on the things that are similar, because it’s the differences that really matter.”
The Christian Story – Greg Koukl
As indicated earlier, Christianity teaches that there is, has been, and will only ever be one God represented by three personalities, and each person is the one God. Mormonism teaches that there are multiple Gods, and Jehovah’s Witness teaches that Jesus Christ was not God. As we also saw earlier, the Law of Non Contradiction allows for only one of these teachings to be true. All can be false, but only one can be true. And if one of the teachings is true, the others are automatically false.
Law of Non Contradiction
It is not my intention to offend anyone who is a member of one of these religions and who also sincerely believe they are following the truth. I do not question the motives of any who are sincere in their beliefs of one of these religions being true. However, as covered in the Truth section, truth is not determined by sincerity. One can be sincere but be sincerely wrong. Ideas have consequences, and if the consequences of some ideas are eternal, it is important to look at what the true facts are and not rely on our sincerity, what we like, what’s popular, etc.
I am presenting this information because I believe the evidence shows that everyone will pass from this life into one of two eternities. If I were to neglect my sharing of these truths, I would essentially care less about the eternal destination of others, and more about not wanting to be criticized or inconvenienced, and that would be evidence of not loving others. It is because of my concern for others and belief that the evidence proves these truths, that I feel so strongly about getting this information out to others.
I have included numerous passages from the Bible so that the Biblical teaching can be easily compared. Similar to the different terms having different meanings between the different religions, individual Bible verses are used by different religions to support those religion’s different teachings. And similar to understanding the full meaning of a word by seeing it used in different ways, seeing multiple verses on a topic gives us a much better understanding of the accurate Biblical teaching on that topic. As with other sections in this guide, I have also included websites so that you can research these teachings further.
It is important to always go to the Bible to learn what it teaches rather than to assume a teaching is Biblical, and then go to the Bible to try to find evidence. Consider again the question:
“Will we make the Bible flexible to our beliefs,
or will we make our beliefs flexible to the Bible?”
As there are similarities in the teachings of both Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness, in comparison to Christianity, we will examine these two religions first.
The following official links from both religions show that both religions consider themselves Christian. As indicated before in the Truth section, you cannot have two or more contradictory teachings all be true. If they contradict each other, only one can be true. If both the Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness religions claim to be Christian, but they contradict the essential teachings of Christianity, then they can’t truly be Christian.
Are Mormons Christians? (Official Mormon site)
Most Mormons Say Their Religion is Christian
Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Christians? (Official Jehovah’s Witness site)
Christians or not Christians?
The above sites show that the beliefs of many Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as the teachings of both of the religions, show that that both religions consider themselves Christian. Both religions place strong emphasis on the family, and the teaching to love and care for others. This is fully consistent with Christianity, and Christians applaud the emphasis of these ideals. However, we disagree that the core beliefs of both are true and are consistent with Christianity. The question is not the emphasis and dedication to the family taught by both religions, it is their claim to being Christian and teaching the same as Christianity.
Remember Greg Koukl’s observation about different beliefs,
“When studying religions, the point is not to focus on the things that are similar. It’s the differences that really matter.”
And also the comment by the writer Steve Turner, in a podcast by Frank Turek:
“Most religion teach to love one another. They only disagree on the nature of man, the nature of God, sin, salvation, heaven, hell, and creation.”
Even though these family ideals are similar to what Christianity teaches, the differences between the doctrinal teachings of the different religions are critical when it comes to eternal issues, and where we will spend eternity. Both Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness teachings differ from the essentials of the Christian faith, and these differences cannot be bridged by having similar teachings on how we should treat others.
The different teachings about the essentials between these two religions contradict the teachings in the Bible. As well, they contradict each other in many details. As such, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, and Christianity can’t all be true. Again, the law of non-contradiction indicates that only one teaching can be true, and whichever is true the teachings which are contradictory are automatically false. If you have the wrong teaching as to who Jesus Christ is, you don’t have a Jesus Christ who is able to pay for your sin and save you, and so you don’t have a salvation that works.
What are the essentials of the Christian faith?
There is a saying I heard years ago from Hank Hannigraf, President of The Christian Research Institute, which I believe captures how Christians are to relate to others regarding beliefs.
“In Essentials Unity,
In Non-Essentials Liberty,
and In All Things Charity”
We should partner in unity with other individuals and religions when they hold to the same essential teachings of Christianity.
We should show liberty and not break fellowship with others over teachings which are non-essential.
And we should show charity to all individuals and groups, whether or not they hold to the essentials of Christianity.
While there may be differences in teachings between major denominations of Christianity, almost all of them hold to the same essential teachings as indicated in the links above. Any denomination or church calling itself Christian which doesn't hold to the foundational truths of Christianity would be like the Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness churches in that their teachings are not consistent with Christianity and can not be considered Christian.
Both the Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness churches claim to be Christian as the previous links indicate. However, we will see that their teachings contradict the essential teachings of Christianity, as the official church information and information in each of the next sections confirm. As such, their teachings prove they cannot be Christian religions. And just because a religion is called “Christian”, or calls itself “Christian”, that doesn't automatically make it Christian. Like my describing myself as 6'2", having striking features, and am a world class guitarist doesn't make these statements true.
Again, it is not my intention to offend, but it is important to remember that ideas have consequences, and if the consequences of an idea have eternal ramifications, we need to very seriously evaluate the actual teachings of any belief system we are considering adopting. If the teachings of Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness are contradictory to the essentials of Christianity then they can not be Christian religions. Again, if you have the wrong Jesus, a Jesus who is not the eternal God and not qualified to pay for sin, you have a Jesus who can’t save you from that sin.
Next Page: Mormonism