Thursday, 3 February 2011


I was talking to a man yesterday about the reality of salvation.  He told me that he used to work in the Middle East and would be more inclined toward Islam.

I asked him what he meant by "more inclined".  Did he mean he thought Islam was actually more likely to be true, or did he mean he just prefers its teachings?  He told me that he saw the devotion of the Muslims there, praying five times each day, and he thought that carried a lot of weight.  At that point he hastily excused himself and the conversation ended.

I was left slightly confused, because I really don't know what he thought the devotion of the Muslims proved.  It seemed like he thought that the fact that they were devoted somehow implied that Islam is actually true.  But this obviously is not a logical conclusion.  Every religion has its devotees, and we could find examples of devotion in every religion that would equal or exceed what he saw in Islam (e.g. what about the Christians who are being imprisoned, persecuted and killed in Islamic countries?)

If we want to know whether a view is true we have to look at what it teaches and what it claims, not at the devotion of its adherents.  In this regard Christianity stands apart from all religions, because it alone presents a God who is righteous.  Islam, like so many faiths, says that good works will be weighed against bad works, but this is a compromise on righteousness, and if God is not righteous, then what is righteousness?  What is this standard that God fails to meet?  Only the Gospel provides a righteous basis upon which God can show mercy to the guilty.

Now someone may be thinking, "But Christians often point to the suffering and martyrdom of the apostles as proof of the truth of Christianity, and now you're saying that the devotion of religious followers proves nothing!"  I'm not saying that religious devotion proves nothing, but all it proves is that the devotees sincerely believe in the truth of what they are saying - they aren't liars.  Now when it comes to the apostles this is very significant - they weren't saying, "We believe Jesus rose from the dead."  They were saying, "We saw the risen Christ, we heard Him, we ate with Him, we handled Him, we met Him."  Their suffering and martyrdom prove that they weren't lying - they sincerely believed that they had met the risen Christ. 

You can be wrong in your sincerely held beliefs, but could they have been wrong about what they saw, heard, held and met with, not just once, but multiple times in various places and different circumstances?  I can't see how they could have been, can you?