Skip to comments.All Roads Lead to Heaven? - Kathleen Parker Does Theology
Posted on 05/16/2010 12:40:30 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
What catches the attention of a columnist for The Washington Post? A recent column by Kathleen Parker indicates that theology has become a focus of national attention.
Kathleen Parker used her column in The Washington Post to take on Franklin Graham and his belief that belief in Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.
Parker began her column with the fact that Franklin Graham prayed outside the Pentagon last week, rather than inside, having been disinvited by the Pentagon as the speaker for its scheduled National Day of Prayer service. Graham, you will remember, was disinvited because of statements he made about Islam - statements directly referenced by the Army spokesman as not appropriate.
Those statements made clear reference to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only message of salvation, to Christ as the only Savior, and to Islam as an evil belief system that pulls millions away from faith in Christ and delivers no hope of salvation. In a later interview, Graham made his point about the uniqueness of the Christian Gospel, adding Hinduism as another example of a false religion.
All this was too much for Kathleen Parker, who asked: Oh well, it doesnt matter where one prays, right? All prayers lead to heaven. Or do they?
She took direct aim at Franklin Grahams theology, arguing that Grahams views didnt sit very well with secular Americans or even non-evangelical Christians. Well, probably not - and that serves to indicate what makes evangelical Christianity distinct from secular Americans and secularized Christianity.
But, Parker advised her readers, evangelicals are not likely to hold onto this belief for long. In her words:
Graham isnt alone in his views. A survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors, conducted by an evangelical polling firm, found that 47 percent agree that Islam is a very evil and a very wicked religion. But such opinions may be confined mostly to an older generation. Evangelicals under 30 believe that there are many ways to God, not just through Jesus.
In essence, Kathleen Parker was advising secular America that the distinctive evangelical belief in the necessity of belief in Christ for salvation has a generational expiration date stamped on it. She then cites research by David Campbell of Notre Dame and Robert Putman of Harvard indicating that nearly two-thirds of evangelicals under 35 believe non-Christians can go to heaven, vs. 39 percent of those over 65.
So, even as secular Americans are expected to recoil in horror at the idea that there are Christians who still believe that faith in Jesus is the only way of salvation, they are given the hope that the coming generation of younger evangelicals will abandon that conviction and follow the path set by liberal Protestantism. There are signs she may be right, but this would mean the surrender of the Gospel.
But Kathleen Parker is not finished with her argument. She then turns to Fingerprints of God, a recent book by Barbara Bradley Hagerty of National Public Radio. Hagerty cites neuroscience as giving evidence of a God spot in the brain that supposedly indicates that all religious beliefs are the same:
Her research led to some startling conclusions that have caused no small amount of Sturm und Drang among those who believe theirs is the one true way. She found that whether one is a Sikh, a Catholic nun, a Buddhist monk or a Sufi Muslim, the brain reacts to focused prayer and meditation much in the same way. The same parts light up and the same parts go dark during deep meditation.
Well, no Sturm und Drang here, Mrs. Parker. This neuroscience may tell us something about the operation of the brain, but it tells us nothing of theological importance. It might indicate that certain religious practices have similar effects in the brain, but it tells us nothing about which theological beliefs are true. The evidence from neuroscience is of interest in this respect only to those who believe that all religious experience is merely a reflection of biology - and if you believe this, you are not concerned about heaven or hell at all.
Kathleen Parkers column is indeed revealing. But the most revelatory aspect of her essay is its unmasked hostility toward any belief that there is only one way of salvation. This is the so-called scandal of particularity that causes so much secular offense. In recent years, the Roman Catholic Church has officially embraced forms of inclusivism in order to reduce this burden, and liberal Protestantism has embraced just about every relativistic alternative, from outright universalism to various forms of inclusivism, in which people are believed to be saved through Christ, but not through any conscious knowledge of Him. The universalists argue that all religions lead to the same truth. Inclusivists argue that all faiths eventually lead to Christ, even if He is not known. Both are repudiations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The column by Kathleen Parker is yet another signpost of the current age and the worldview of the secularized classes. In their view, what evangelicals believe about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is just out of bounds and embarrassing.
But, she tells her readers, dont worry - younger evangelicals are going to put that belief far behind them.
Is she right?
-- R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Mat 7:13 Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. Mat 7:14 How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!
Parker needs to stick to what she really knows and leave the theology to the Theologians.
If she hasn’t studied the Bible, which she’s indicated by her ignorance of Scripture, well, no use in arguing with the uninformed.
Joh 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
You don't go to hell for your sins, you go for rejecting the provision provided for your sin.
Aw come on! Katy saw “All Dogs Go to Heaven”. Twice!
So tragic that so many people fall into the trap of universalism, or whatever else they may call it, and never even try to learn and understand the Word of God.
As I've stated previously on this forum ...
The sticking point of Christian faith is what theologians call "the scandal of the particular". That is , that there is only one way to God.
Jesus made the same claim - "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father but by me."
I don't think my belief system is at odds with this. I believe that human beings have an eternal soul. I've also come to believe that there are many paths to many "Gods".
If you want to wind up with what Budda had to offer ... walk that path. If you want what the pantheism of the Hindu belief system offers... go right ahead. If you want to march to your own drummer, following as best you can your concept God, knock yourself out.
The "scandal of the particular" though, means that if I want to have relationship with the Being that Jesus referred to as "Father", I have to acknowledge my brokenness and need for forgiveness and entrust Jesus with my life.
The only way to that God and what He offers is through faith in Jesus. The claim of the God that Jesus called "Father" is that He offers eternal life in relationship with Him. The second person of this triune God demonstrated the validity of this offer by laying aside His own diety and becoming a man, offering himself as the sacrifice for my sin and then, as the firstborn from the dead, being raised by the Father to the same eternal life He offers to all. As an added bonus, because I'm forgiven, I can and do have an ongoing, cognitive, emotional relationship with this God right now.
So, at the end of this 70 or 80 year part of the life of your eternal soul, if you've followed the path of a God other than the one Jesus called Father, you may or may not get what your God offered, I can't vouch for their ability to deliver. You won't, however, get what the God that Jesus called Father has offered, in fact, since you wanted something else, you'll be separated from that God forever. What ever the result, look into the mirror for the one responsible for it.
Jesus said to Kathleen Parker, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man or woman comes to the Father, except by me.” John 14:6
She will get a horrible surprise when her time to meet God comes.
Exactly. Hillary's game (and if you don't think she's behind this build-up to the presidential election you're not paying attention) will be to try to split the conservatives along the evangelical fault line, in it's effect on both religious and political theory.
People need to remember that the difference in beliefs between two Christians or two conservatives is absolutely nothing compared to the split between a conservative and a Rat - which is literally the difference between freedom and slavery.
Watch - a Christian conservative non-evangelical Perot-type Republican Party splitter will arise, and if he loses the primaries he might run third party. Perot got the Clintons elected before, and the same strategy is already in use now to split the conservatives.
So beware infighting, unless you like the sound of "President Hillary Clinton."
Jesus answered and said unto them, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me. - John 14:6
Seems pretty simple to me.
Jesus talked about hell more than anyone else in the Bible. I guess He didn’t know what He was talking about, according to Kathleen.
It is the “philosophy” of our day...and yes, the younger generation has bought that lie in droves. After all, if Oprah says that “all paths lead to God” - it must be more reliable that the Word of God, eh?
Dr Mohler’s input on the Parker article which we’ve been discussing.
He would have been in good company had he sat in on our discussion. :>) He echoed most of our points.
Now, about the young evangelicals throwing off the belief that Jesus is the only way to salvation. I say it’s an artifact of the research and that, without seeing the research and the questions as asked, we really shouldn’t be assuming that someone as hostile to Christianity as Kathleen Parker would haven’t distorted something to make her point.
We have also found in the past serious problems with the definitions of “protestant”, “evangelical”, and “faith” as used in opinion research. For example, in my experience, “protestant” is generally held to be anything that is not Roman Catholic or Orthodox.
Jesus is a liar.
- Kathleen Parker
I do believe that we as Christians are missing a great opportunity to impact the next generation. I see part of the problem is that for the most part we have handed the current generation of youth over to the secular schools (around 90% of church kids) to educate them and then we try to unteach them what they learned all week in school and reteach them the scriptures in a couple of hours a week...if you can get them to attend church, Sunday school, and youth group. Most of the kids that I have worked with in youth groups see the contradiction of having their parents send them to school where they learn that there “is no God” and then the same parents bring them to church on Sunday “to learn about God”. We are raising up a generation that wants the truth but are getting mixed messages from the church, and the schools are claiming to be teaching from the truth.
Our focus needs to be on raising up godly children in the way scripture instructs us...not by just offering “game time” and calling it “children's church, youth group, kids club, etc.”
Sorry if this seems long winded...but as a father of seven that wants to see all of my children make it to heaven when the time comes...this is very close to my heart.
I would never discount your point that we should be educating our own children. For whatever reason, evangelical Christians chose public schools decades ago and have pretty much hung with it...probably for financial reasons.
However, the point about wanting to review the research is sound. There really have been problems with both the research methods and with the definitions of various terms in past research that I’ve looked at.
I’d just feel more comfortable knowing what I really was dealing with so far as the research is concerned. It’s not as if I’m so confident in Kathleen Parker that her word on the subject should be the final word.