8/13/12 Nino, 48
What are some of the "non-negotiables" of the Christian faith? It is important to know some of the essential questions to ask in order to share the Gospel, because the differences between biblical Christianity and Christian cults or even other religions can be hidden or very subtle at first glance. While grocery shopping today I spoke with a man named Nino, who seemed to be a biblical Christian for the first five minutes of our conversation. I asked if he believes he will go to heaven. "Only by God's infinite mercy" he said, so I asked "How do you know God's mercy?" "Through what Jesus did on the cross." So far, so good. We talked further about Jesus' purpose in his ministry and Nino expressed an unusual belief - he thinks Jesus' miracles were more like parables. They may or may not have actually occurred, but the important thing is the spiritual truth they convey. An example he gave was when Jesus healed the blind man - he thought that this could simply represent the enlightenment one receives when they find God. On its own this might just be considered a minor deviation from the essential truths of Christianity, but I knew it meant that he felt free to form his own individual interpretations of scripture without concern for their more simple and obvious message, and I wondered how else he interpreted the Bible. I dug deeper and soon found out that Nino is of the Bahai faith, which basically believes that all religions are on the same path to heaven, only in different forms. He believes Jesus is a great prophet of Christianity, just as Hare Krishna and Muhammed would be great prophets of Hinduism and Islam. Why do they not believe Jesus' greater claim to be the Son of God - One with the Creator and not simply part of the creation? Because in so doing it would give Jesus infinite importance compared to the prophets of other religions, and would undermine the worth Bahai's give to them. I asked Nino if Moses and Muhammed could be replaced. "Could God have chosen someone else to speak for Him in their place?' Nino believes He could. "How about Jesus then? Could God have simply chosen someone else to be the Messiah?" Nino also believes He could. We talked well over an hour there in the grocery aisle. I learned a lot about the Bahai religion, and Nino learned why Jesus' divine nature is absolutely essential to satisfy God's infinite love and justice in biblical Christianity. But because I knew the non-negotiables and the essential questions to ask, despite Nino's claims to the contrary I knew after only five minutes into the conversation that Nino was no biblical Christian.