Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On Burning Books and Demolishing Idols: Part 1: Religious Pluralism: Irrational and Evil

(posts in this series: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)

Regardless of the motives of the pastor who recently made headlines for announcing a Qur'an book-burning, only a wicked nation would take offense at burning Qur’ans—or, for that matter, any other book promoting a non-Christian (and thereby anti-Christian) religion.  

God hates non-Christian religions, and so should we.  Unfortunately, the following characterizes the attitude of many professing Christians:
"They are horrified by accounts of serial murder and child molestation, but relatively nonchalant when it comes to non-Christian religions and philosophies. They are greatly distressed over acts of racism and fraud, and some even weep over deaths caused by diseases and accidents as reported by the news, but they display no such reaction when someone introduces himself as a Mormon, when someone announces that she will marry a Muslim, or when someone uses the name of God with irreverence. Their morality is man-centered instead of Godcentered, but biblical morality is centered on God, with right worship toward God as the foundation and prerequisite for right treatment toward man."
Vincent Cheung, Presuppositional Confrontations (Boston, MA: Vincent Chueng, 2010), p. 17.
Christians are to have a high view of the First Table of the Law (commandments 1-4).  They should naturally take offense at such things as idolatry, non-Christian “holy” books, irreverent use of God’s name, and Sabbath-breaking.   

As such true Christians long for a day when all the non-Christian symbols are demolished and Jesus Christ is recognized as Lord of lords and King of kings.

(Before going further we must be clear that we are not calling on Christians to destroy books, symbols, or anything else that belongs to non-Christians.  False religions are not to be respected, but private property rights are [see the Eighth Commandment]. Moreover, even when it involves their own private property, Christians must be discerning as to the extent they outwardly express their intolerance of false religions.  We don't recommend walking up to a group of Muslims in Saudi Arabia and burning a Qur'an in front of them.)

The desire for the destruction of non-Christian symbols is offensive to pluralistic humanists.  To them, all religions should be treated equally.  But this is irrational, hypocritical, and blasphemous. 

First, it is irrational and hypocritical because religious pluralism is self-refuting:
-Religious pluralism says we should be “tolerationists.”  But the tolerationist is intolerant towards the intolerant. 

-Religious pluralism says that “one group cannot impose its views on others.”  But this itself is an imposition.  It imposes the view on others that says views shouldn’t be imposed on others. 

-Religious pluralism says we should inclusivisitic.  But inclusivism, by the nature of the case, is exclusivistic of exclusivists.
Second, religious pluralism is blasphemous because it considers all religions equal.  The First Commandments says, You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)  As such Scripture says, I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8)

God is not glorified by deity egalitarianism, the philosophy presupposed by religious pluralism, which says that society, including civil government, should treat all religions equally. 

To consider false gods—which are worthless (Psalm 96:5), a snare (Psalm 106:36), and are conceived by fools (Romans 1:21-23)—on a par with God is utter blasphemy. (Religious pluralism, by the way, is simply a euphemism for polytheism, as religious pluralism holds to the polytheistic philosophy of "many gods, religions, and moralities.")

Christians are being biblical when they are intolerant of non-Christian religions.  While they should be respectful to non-Christians on a social level, non-Christian religions should be disdained.  This should come naturally; thus Paul’s reaction in Athens:
 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.” (Acts 17:16)
Thus Christians will naturally be intolerant of religious pluralism.  Consider what Christians did while living in a society dominated by paganism:
Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”
(Acts 19:18-20)
Notice how it ends:  “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”  God’s word spreads not while Christians appease false religions, but when they are intolerant of them. 

Paul Michael Raymond on "The Essence of Polytheism"

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