A Unique Message
"What the church knows is something that the world cannot discover for itself. All the high level conferences, the learned dialogues, the great books, will always fail to arrive at it."
Some modern churchmen claim that "to be acceptable to God does not require one to be a Christian." Conferences are held to discuss what the world religions have in common with one another. Dialogue in this new context means that a superficial basic common denominator between the world religions is propagated, a sort of compromise. We are all seeking the truth and God has revealed Himself also in non-Christian religions. Thus we must exchange views. Let us listen and discover on what basis we can meet each other. To study world religions is one thing. Each divinity student has to take a course in world religions. But to have a dialogue is another matter.
I suggest that the current discussions and dialogues on religion on television and radio are generally but sheer entertainment. To have dialogues on a high level may be a very fine exchange of thought, but it leads to the betrayal of truth. Why? Our whole position as Christians is the very opposite and anti-thesis of the others, and is a complete condemnation of it. I say this not in conceit, arrogance or with pride. I must say this because there is no neutral ground at which the Christian and the non-Christian can meet. We have no basic common denominator.
The message of the gospel is unique. It claims that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life; the only way to God. The gospel is never a matter for debate or dialogue. It proclaims the good news that salvation for the world has come through Jesus Christ, the Son of the ever living God. The Christian message is the declaration of the good news of God, His being and power and glory. The God of the Scriptures is never an object for debate. We can never debate or discuss Him if He were but a philosophical proposition. The God of the Bible is above and beyond dialogue or philosophical debate. He is to be approached with "reverence and fear; for our God, indeed, is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:28,29)
The Christian faith claims to be exclusive, and to have an authoritative message. Therefore, the Christian faith is missionary. And its message is not a private opinion derived from logic or a common place matter to be whispered in the ear, but an official declaration of supreme authority and universal importance to be broadcast abroad. Jesus Christ did not give as His final command for His disciples to sit down at a round table conference with the leaders of the major religions of their day. He gave an order, clear, explicit: "Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptize them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to practice all the commands that I have given you." (Matthew 28:19,20) This command is binding upon His followers everywhere and for all time. Christians throughout the ages have taken very seriously these words of the Lord. Love for missions has burned like a holy fire in the hearts of missionaries. The message of the church must be proclaimed as the only hope for this world. We have a message as God gave it to us. In all humility Christians should treasure their good news received and spread it to others.
Let me be faithful to my trust,
Johan D. Tangelder