Calvary Road Baptist Church

“COUNTERFEIT COMPARISONS”

 

 

It is universally conceded that man is a religious being. The reason the religious nature of man is universally conceded is because the religious nature of man is universally seen to be true.

To be sure, there will be heard occasional protests to the contrary, with this person or that claiming to have no religious inclinations. However, such protests will come only from the mouths of those whose shallowness of thought or ignorance of the nature of religion is obvious. Man is a religious being, even if the religion a particular individual practices is unknown by him or those who observe him.

Man is in every region on earth a worshiper. In every age and country, and in every stage of development, from the most advanced and enlightened cultures to those most backward and darkened by ignorance, man bows in homage to a superior. It may be that the superior one man bows to is something of his own design. Another may bow to something unseen within his own bosom. Still others may bow to a concept, while others bow before matter and energy. Whatever the particular case may be, man is religious. He worships.

Some worship nature, while others worship technology. Some worship a political philosophy, while others worship things economic. Some will worship a spouse, and others will worship their child. Some will worship a flag or a country, while others worship a legacy or their own history.

Is it not obvious to a thinking man, a truly thinking man, that nothing is truly worthy of worship that is not a religion? If man is a religious being, and he is, then it is patently obvious that anything that is worshipped by man as a religion, which is not a religion, is unworthy of man’s worship. Thus, quite apart from the rightness or wrongness of doctrines that are embraced as true, if those doctrines are not religious then they certainly should not be worshiped. Worship has to do with religion, and only religion, and that which is not religion is disqualified as worthy of worship.

At this point, you may be questioning your right to participate in considering such issues as what is and what is not worthy of worship as being religious. However, despite the propaganda you have been subject to throughout your life, the Bible acknowledges you to be qualified. To be sure, the Bible refers to the creation of man in the Garden of Eden, as well as man’s subsequent fall from God’s favor by an act of sin. As well, the Bible is filled with testimony of the consequences of man’s fall into sin as a factor that affects man’s will, man’s wisdom, man’s perception, as well as man’s destiny.

No matter how mankind has been affected by sin and the affects on his thinking of sin, however, man continues to possess the ability to think, and Isaiah 1.18 gives witness to that ability to think reasonably and rationally. That verse begins, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.” Therefore, man is a religious being, and man can also think, reason, reflect, consider, and ponder things. Among those things man can and should ponder and reflect on are the different religions to be found in the world.

May I suggest two lines of thought this morning in connection with our efforts to evaluate the different religions of the world?

 

First, COUNTERFEIT RELIGIONS IMITATE GENUINE RELIGION

 

The very definition of the word counterfeit demands the existence of an original, a genuine, a real from which the counterfeit, or counterfeits, be copied. Perhaps you have never considered this, but the truth of it can be quickly seen. Counterfeit money is not produced as thirteen-dollar bills or fifty-five dollar notes. Why not? Because the whole point of producing counterfeit money is to copy and pass as real imitations of real currency that is in circulation. Thus, counterfeiters produce imitation money in twenty-dollar, fifty-dollar, and one hundred-dollar denominations.

With this understood, and without a single objection to my line of reasoning so far, I can dogmatically assert that where counterfeit money is circulated, it goes without saying that genuine money is also circulated. As certainly true is the assertion that counterfeit diamonds are found only where genuine diamonds are also found. What must this, therefore, mean? It means that the existence of counterfeits does more to prove the existence of the genuine from which the copies are made than to disprove the existence of anything that is genuine. This is true of currency. This is true of gems such as diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. This is true of checks. This is true of precious metals such as gold and platinum. This is also true of religion.

Though there are many skeptics these days who decry all religion, the fact of the matter is that counterfeits prove the existence of the genuine, the real, the original, rather than disprove everything. Cubic zirconium no more disproves the existence of real diamonds than counterfeit one hundred-dollar bills disprove the existence of the genuine currency. So it is with religion.

The existence of counterfeit religions does not prove that all religions are wrong, that no religions are valid, or that every religion is as Karl Marx once asserted an opiate for the masses. Quite the contrary. The existence of counterfeit religions establishes, rather than undermines, the reality of a real religion existing to address the religious needs of human beings.

Let us suppose that a consideration of the world’s major religions be assumed to include one genuine religion among a number of counterfeits. What religions would be included in a fair-minded appraisal of religions to discriminate the counterfeits from the genuine? Why not compile a list? Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Those are the four main religions of the world, as determined by the number of adherents.

However, there are also many people who deny that they are religious, with many of them properly categorized as secular humanists, meaning their religion is basically a denial of all things spiritual and asserting a belief in materialism as the explanation for everything. Therefore, to be generous, let us consider that the main religions of the world are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and secular humanism (or what you might term materialism).

I contend that only one of these religions is genuine, with the others being counterfeits, religious philosophies pretending to meet human needs that can only really be met by the one genuine religion.

 

Next, THE TRUE RELIGION CAN BE DISTINGUISHED FROM THE COUNTERFEITS

 

I realize that the spirit of our age imposes upon everyone a non-critical approach to truths and values, pretending that it is wrong to judge, that it is bad to discriminate. However, that approach to life is pure nonsense, and I will illustrate why it is pure nonsense. First, it is pure nonsense because it is a perversion of a Biblical principle. Many people throw the words of Jesus out, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” Matthew 7.1. However, they ignore the context in which our Lord uttered those words, making it sound like the Savior was opposed to being a discriminating thinker and that He was advocating a naive acceptance everything said as being true. First John 4.1 tells us, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Thus, it is not bad to discriminate and exercise judgment. What is wrong is being harsh and hypocritical. Is it really possible to live your life without exercising judgment and discrimination? I think not. You do not drive the first car you come to in the parking lot, but discriminate between the one that only looks like your car and the one that actually is your car. Even if two cars appear to be exactly the same make, model, and color, only one of them can actually be yours, unless you are foolish to buy two identical automobiles.

Thus, it is not only not wrong to distinguish one thing from another, it is necessary that you distinguish one thing from another. Husbands need to distinguish their wives from other women. Children need to distinguish their parents from other adults. In like manner, people must distinguish between religions, to discern between the one religion that is genuine and true from those that are false, erroneous, and counterfeit.

Different religions can be distinguished from each other in many ways. For instance, Buddhism, Hinduism, and secular humanism hold that matter is eternal and that nothing like creation ever took place. Christianity and Islam, on the other hand, hold to all things being created.[1] Here is another approach: Hinduism, Buddhism, and secular humanism are religions that make no claim about revelatory truth. What they hold as sacred writings, be it the Vedas of Hinduism, the Sutras of Buddhism, or the Humanist Manifesto I & II of the secular humanists, are all acknowledged to be the product of completely human discovery. In other words, nothing they hold to be sacred is claimed to have been given by inspiration, as we do the Bible and as the muslims claim for the Koran. A third approach is related to the religion’s view of mankind. Christianity holds that man is a fallen race, sinful by nature as a result of the first man’s sin. However, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and secular humanism either deny there really is such a thing as right or wrong, or embraces the notion that man is by nature essentially good.

However, another approach can be used to discriminate between religions. Consider something about the religion that is so fundamentally inherent to the religion, yet it is also so fundamentally repulsive that that religion cannot possibly be genuine. For example: Can you accept Hinduism as the one genuine and true religion, while understanding the Hindu practice of Sati, whereby a Hindu widow is burned on the funeral pyre of her dead husband in order to become a goddess? I cannot. Here is the disqualifier for me for Buddhism: a man named Siddharta Gautama, who abandoned his family to seek enlightenment, established Buddhism five centuries before Christ.[2] Excuse me, but a religion founded by a man who abandons his family to seek enlightenment, but who when enlightened does not return to his family to fulfill his responsibilities as a husband and a father, has not been truly enlightened. The religion he founded cannot be true. How about secular humanism? Secular humanism is the currently fashionable name for communism, the religion of the atheists and materialists, and the state religion for the Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea, Vietnam, Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Colonel Mengistu’s Ethiopia, and Nicaragua under the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega, and Pol Pot’s reign of terror in Cambodia. Can secular humanism be the genuine religion, after the tens of millions who were murdered or allowed to starve to death under those regimes throughout the twentieth century? Not to mention the fifty million American babies aborted at the hands of the secular humanists.[3] If religion is defined as that which meets man’s spiritual needs and fulfills the longings of his heart and soul, the answer can only be no. We are down to two religions. Can Islam be the genuine religion, the one true faith, with all others counterfeits? Keep in mind that the founder of Islam married a nine-year old girl. Keep in mind that the founder of Islam told his stepson to divorce his beautiful wife so he could marry her. Keep in mind that this religion spread after its founding by means of genocide, sword point evangelism, and the imposition of Sharia law on non-muslims, continuing down to this present day with suicide bombings being used to assassinate non-muslims. These are practices embraced as central to the religion of Islam by muslim scholars today. I am persuaded Islam is another of the counterfeit religions, perhaps the most dangerous counterfeit religion of them all.

Of course, this leaves Christianity for evaluation. To be sure, the practitioners of every religion can misrepresent their religion. However, what we have looked at so far are beliefs and practices that are central to the religion under consideration. Christ’s character and conduct are beyond reproach. Therefore, what stain on Christianity’s history would be pointed to as evidence Christianity might not be the genuine religion? Granted, there are those who embraced Christianity who have done many wicked things. However, we are concerned with those things central to Christian belief. The Crusades are a blight on the history of Europe, but the Crusades were aberrations carried out under the authority of European kings and Roman Catholic popes in response to the muslim conquest of Jerusalem and surrounding territories, which had been in Christian hands for centuries. There is no way an argument can be made that the Crusades reflected anything approaching normative Christian behavior. How about the Inquisition? Again, an aberration that does not reflect historic Christianity, and is not central to the formation of Christianity, as was the behavior of the founders of Buddhism and Islam that I mentioned. Finally, there were the Salem witch trials. Opponents of Christianity always throw out the Salem witch trials. However, when you recognize that it was a one-time event, and that there were only nineteen victims, it is hardly a measure of Christianity over the centuries.[4]

 

My friends, Biblical Christianity stands up to scrutiny. Subject Christianity to any valid criteria that any other religious belief is subjected to and you will find Christianity stands up to examination, while the counterfeit religions do not.

Only Christianity provides an explanation for the existence of the universe that is both ancient and in agreement with scientific observation.

Only Christianity provides an explanation for the condition of man, the state of mankind, and proposes a remedy that has held up over the centuries, the redemption of the individual sinner through faith in Jesus Christ.

Only Christianity provides a Creator who fulfills all the requirements of being truly personal, and who offers soul satisfying communion with His creatures based upon the forgiveness of sins committed against Him by means of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

To be sure, today’s message falls far short of being sufficient to fully evaluate any religion. However, it is a starting point for anyone who is intellectually honest, who seeks the truth, and who displays an integrity that is tempered by the humility that God requires to bestow grace.

If you are open to the needs of your heart, soul, and mind, a consideration of each of the religions (a consideration of any religion) will persuade you that objective truth and valid personal experience points to Christianity as the only genuine religion.

All other religions are counterfeits.



[3] C. L. Cagan with Robert Hymers, From Darwin To Design: The Journey of a Mathematics Professor from Atheism to Faith, (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2006), pages 14-15.

[4] Ibid., page 15.



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