CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY DIALOGUE

WITH OTHER FAITHS AND RELIGIONS
By Venerable Dr Ifechukwu Ibeme
http://priscaquila.6te.net ; http://www.scribd.com/ifeogo ;
Comment on The Chapel of Grace Blog:
http://thechapelofgrace.wordpress.com

The purpose of Gospel mission is to bring all humanity to BE SAVED
through Christ from depravity, demonism and damnation into God’s
eternal Kingdom in order to know and do God’s will, to worship God in
spirit and truth (Act 26:15-18).
Missionary dialogue recognizes the power of the Holy Spirit by which God “is
constantly at work in ways that pass human understanding and in places that to
us are least expected”. Interfaith Dialogue is not only of THEOLOGICAL or
doctrinal exchange, for there are also dialogue of TOLERANCE for mutual
coexistence, dialogue of COMMON CAUSE for social action, and even dialogue of
shared “pray to your God/gods” religious experience for COMMON GOOD as on
Jonah’s tempest-tossed ship of Tarshish (Jonah 1:5-6).
How is the Christian Faith or the Gospel of Christ’s Kingdom related to other
faiths, religions and cultures? This is a fundamental question the Church must
answer for effective evangelism, dialogue (for peaceful coexistence and
community collaboration) and presence in a pluralistic heathen world. For
instance in the dialogue of the three monotheistic religions, it seems that:
 The Christian Gospel is a MESSIANIC OFFER of the Creator God’s eternal
SALVATION to sinful humanity from the bondage of sin and Satan through
the POWER of Christ’s GRACE as taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles.
 The Jewish Old Testament is a PROPHETIC DEMAND for frail OBEDIENCE
from sinful humanity (e.g. Israel) to the law of the One Creator God
(Yahweh) as taught by Moses and the Prophets of Israel.
 The Islamic Qur’an is a PROPHETIC DEMAND for frail SUBMISSION from
sinful humanity to the will of Allah who they believe is the One Creator
God as taught by Muhammad ibn Abdallah.
On a general note the question of relationship of the Christian Gospel to other
religions calls for a broad grasp of not only the thrust of the various religions but
also what religion basically is and what types of religion (primal, philosophical
and prophetic) there are in the world.
The word RELIGION (which refers to human response in relation to any
superstition, supposition, speculation or human reverence in relation to
redemptive revelation) is derived from Latin RELIGIO = supernaturally
constrained attitudes, beliefs, experiences, powers and practices or
RELIGARE = scrupulously restrained attitudes, beliefs, experiences,
powers and practices. Today’s liberalism with its antireligious,
irreverent, rebellious, and self-willed philosophies have given religion a
bad name as faiths and forms that are antisocial, intolerant and
deceptive because of religious rules and regulations – often designating
RELIGION to mean religious organisations or regulations; but prefer
SPIRITUALITY which is designated to mean unregulated spontaneous
spiritual worship and lifestyle or personal “salvation” experience.
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Hence many in the Church and other religions are averse to the word
“religion” or “religious” and claim they are not religious: they would
prefer to describe themselves as spirituals, spiritualists, using spiritual
powers or living in spiritual relationship.
Religions and Spiritualities in the world today offer or seek different
concepts of SALVATION (e.g. Christian redemption-ransom, rescuerelease, regeneration-restoration, Non-Christian self-realisation) from
bondage (e.g. Christian sinful nature, divine wrath, demonic deceit, damnable
death, error-ignorance, Non-Christian karma, reincarnation and matter) which
may not satisfy the salvation concepts of the others. RELIGION can be
defined as the human spiritual relationship or human ritual response or
human rational response of faith in, fear of, fervour for, experience of
and reverence for God, gods and numinous powers. Religions have
belief systems about the divine, the spiritual and the sacred, expressed
in behaviour systems of ritual forms, religious community, numinous
experiences, ethical values and mystical practices.
Note that both the religious and the irreligious have their kinds of “God” and
“gods” which regulate their worldviews and behaviours such as:
 the Monotheists’ ALMIGHTY CREATOR God, (Author of order)
 the Mystics’ UNIVERSAL MIND/FORCE god,
 the Evolutionists' RANDOM SELECTOR goddess, (author of confusion)
 the Scientists’ “NATURAL LAW” goddess,
 the Secularists’ “AS YOU LIKE IT” god,
 the Polytheists’ specialised or tension gods and goddesses, and
guiding/guardian spirits of beasts, masters, heroes, heroines and
ancestors.
In the Apostolic times, there were the Gentiles who worshiped spirits but
believed in the inescapable ordinance powers of the four rudiments/elements
(air, water, earth and fire – faraway jungle Africans seemed to believe rather in
the power of every “animated” fetish) corresponding to the four corners (east,
wet, north and south) which also correspond to the four seasons and trigonal
constellations (warm-summer, moist-spring, dry-autumn and the cold-winter).
Even their physicians believed in the doctrine of humours dominant in persons
corresponding to the seasons of ones’ birth (sanguine, melancholic, choleric,
phlegmatic). The Jews believe God has chosen them and exempted them from
the power or claims of every spirit, rudiment, fetish, season, constellation, or
humour such that in place of these their own rudiments are the Law of Moses
with its powerful ritual Ordinances (priestly works of the Law) and highly ethical
Precepts (personal works of righteousness), On which basis the Law, the Spirit of
God has also inspired the Prophetic and Wisdom Scriptures. Through Christ’s
priestly works by His Blood, Christians have been delivered, not only
from the beggarly rudiments of the Gentiles and from the temporary
rituals of the Law but has also endowed us enabling grace for all
spiritual works and walk, worship and witness. This is the point of our
SALVATION IN CHRIST being made by the Apostles in the Scriptures especially in
Galatians 3 and 4, Colossians 2 and Hebrews 8, 9 and 10. Christ has also
eternally propitiated for Divine damnation on sins of every Christian to
reconcile them to God and guarantee eternal heritage in God’s eternal
Kingdom for them.

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PAGANS (Platonists, Gnostics, Neoplatonists, Kundalini Mystics, New Age
Theosophists) teach that the human spirit, despite being under the power of
beggarly rudiments, could be illuminated or “saved” (through intuition,
contemplation, ecstasy or initiation) in order to be “free from inhibitions by moral
creed, mores and matter for attainment of limitless potential”, being led by
spontaneous persuasion and passion to self-actualise personal choice, dream,
happiness, power and pleasure in the hope of attaining utopian love and peace.
Some Christians unwittingly integrate or syncretise this impious and pagan
spirituality into their faith.
CHRIST and His Apostles taught that the human spirit is saved or redeemed (by
divine grace through penitent faith in Christ) in order to be “free before God from
demonic bondage to error and self and divine damnation for sin”, being led by
the Holy Spirit through moral principles and examples found in the Scriptures of
the Law, the Prophets and the Apostles to please God and do His revealed will on
His earth. This is the piety.
A parallel comparison of PAGAN “spirituality” versus CHRISTIAN
Spirituality is important at this point. Spirituality is the conviction that
humans have spiritual nature and could live spiritual life. Piety has to do with
faith in and submission to God Who has revealed Himself to the biblical Prophets
and through Christ. To be pious is to be god-fearing. To be impious is to be selfserving or god-hating. There are subtle but far-reaching differences between
PAGAN impious spirituality and CHRISTIAN pious spirituality.

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Common elements and concepts shared by most religions are repercussions of
morals and powers of rituals. Religions are of two main classes but three
broad types:
1. Nature Religion: PRIMAL, polytheistic, pantheistic, idolatrous, deistic
and cyclical religions – e.g. animistic and monist religions, totemic and
nature worship religions, ancestral worship religions, and Hinduism.
2. Founder Religion:
(i) PHILOSOPHICAL: atheistic, agnostic, polytheistic, pantheistic,
idolatrous, deistic and cyclical religions – e.g. mystic religions,
Buddhism, Shinto, Tao, Bon, Confucianism, Gnosticism, Jainism and
Sikhism (Sikhism is Islamic Buddhism = monotheistic and cyclical)
(ii) PROPHETIC: monotheistic and eschatological religions – e.g.
God-seeking (theoreunatic) religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam,
Zoroastrianism and Baha’ism.
In contradistinction to THEISM, the belief in an immanent God who actively intervenes in
the affairs of men, the word DEISM is used to represent the view of those who reduced the
role of God to a mere act of creation in accordance with rational laws discoverable by man
and held that, after the original act, God virtually withdrew and refrained from interfering in
the processes of nature and involvement in the ways of man. The Deist God has left nature
to forces of natural properties and left humanity to personal and popular preferences.
In the deistic treatises of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, five religious ideas were recognized as
God-given and innate in the mind of man from the beginning of time: the belief in a
supreme being, in the need for his worship, in the pursuit of a pious and virtuous life as the
most desirable form of worship, in the need of repentance for sins, and in rewards and
punishments in the next world. Herbert held that these are fundamental religious beliefs
that had been the possession of the first man, and they were basic to all the worthy
positive institutionalized religions of later times. Thus, differences among sects and cults all
over the world were usually benign, mere modifications of universally accepted truths; they
were corruptions only when they led to barbarous practices such as the immolation of
human victims and the slaughter of religious rivals.
Polytheism and idolatry turn every want and wonder into god or goddess based on one
legend, myth superstition or another. For instance, WANTS such as health and wealth are
met with GOD(DESSE)S of health and wealth, while WONDERS like thunder and sun are met
with GOD(DESSE)S of thunder and sun.

The Christ came down to graciously grant us the blessed experience of ETERNAL
SALVATION as heavenly spiritual blessing that by far outweighs and outlasts all
blessedness humanity may think, imagine, ask or ever know (Eph 1:3-4, 17-23;
3:16-21): whether by all HUMAN ACTUALISATION and all HUMAN SPECULATION or
even by PROPHETIC REVELATION. Every human is responsible for the level of
blessedness one chooses to seek because every level of blessedness has its
eternal consequence after death.

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From Christ’s dialogue with the Samaritan woman in John 4:19-26 and St Paul’s
introduction to his Epistle to the Romans 1:18-32 and his sermon at the Athenian
Areopagus in Acts 17:18-34, we learn that through Spirituality or Religion,
humans instinctively seek to RELATE WITH AND REVERENCE GOD but to succeed,
need HELP by the TRUTH of Divine Revelation and GRACE of Eternal Salvation
through Christ. Otherwise, humanity being HINDERED by the ERROR of human
mystical supposition and syncretism and being HOODWINKED by the FRAUD of
demonic manipulation, ends up seeking to RELATE WITH AND REVERENCE THE
“GODS” (e.g. mistaken “God”, demonic spirits, dead ancestors, natural object
and forces). Without God reaching us, humans cannot succeed to reach God (Mat
11:27; John 6:44; 14:6-7).
These
other
PRIMAL,
PHILOSOPHICAL
and
PROPHETIC
non-Christian
Faiths/Religions and cultures unaided by Divine Revelation and the Redeeming
Grace of the Divine Christ may have their few merits despite their gross demerits
and limitations. However, ONLY CHRIST EFFECTUALLY SAVES US ETERNALLY
FROM EVERY BONDAGE TO ORDINANCES (repercussions of sin and
manipulations of rituals) AGAINST US, whether of Jewish Mosaic Law and
regulations or of Gentile Philosophical Rudiments and traditions (Gal
3:22-26; 4:1-10; Col 2:8-17). This apostolic teaching is often missed or
misunderstood by the Church. Only the Divine Christ has the ultimate POWER
that saves from every bondage to dark territorial PRINCIPALITIES of spiritual error
and from every bondage to wicked celestial POWERS of spiritual evil (Eph 6:1012; 1John 4:1-6). Only Christ has made or could ever have made the valid
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ATONEMENT/PROPITIATION that saves from human DEPRAVITY, demonic
DOMINATION and divine DAMNATION (Col 1:12-23).
In summary, RELIGION and SPIRITUALITY involve the loving reverential
submission to either divinely revealed invitation or curious pursuit of mystical
exploration for human RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CREATOR, THE SUPERNATURAL
AND THE NATURAL.
Through Spirituality and Religion we seek to ENTER MYSTICAL RELATIONSHIP with
the ineffable and infinite (the Creator, spirit beings and numinous powers).
Spirituality deals with OUGHT and FACT but needs Faith in Christ Jesus for access
to TRUTH and Eternal Life.
Apart from the dimension of SPIRITUALITY or RELIGION as described above,
two other DIMENSIONS OF HUMAN EXPLORATION into known and unknown reality
are PHILOSOPHY and SCIENCE. Each human individual is fully responsible for
how goodly or badly one utilizes each dimension.
NOTE: Religion is the product of revelation, intuition, reason and historical
experience as well as the mother of Philosophy and Science. Science is the
product of physical experience (observable and measurable) subset of
Philosophy. Science is a finite empirical study whose scope ends at the limits of
time and space and collapses at the realms of moral values, cosmological
metaphysics, intuitive insights, revelation and divine intervention. Science
cannot disprove nor antagonize infinity, morality, metaphysics, revelation and
divinity. Only those who lack the understanding of the limitations of science clash
science against infinity, morality, metaphysics, revelation and divinity. Religion
involves everything scientific (reasonable, measurable, observable) as well as
everything unscientific (insights and intuition into infinity, morality, metaphysics,
revelation and divinity).
PHILOSOPHY: search for rational principles for the EXPLANATION OF NATURE
AND EXISTENCE.
Through Philosophy we seek to MAKE SENSE OF ISSUES finite and infinite.
Philosophy deals with OUGHT and SENSE but needs Faith in Christ Jesus for
access to TRUTH and Eternal Life.
SCIENCE: search for empirical and theoretical EXPLANATION AND USAGES OF
NATURAL PROPERTIES OF MATTER.
Through Science we seek to DISCOVER, DESCRIBE, DEVISE AND UTILISE ALL
THINGS finite.
Science deals with FACT and SENSE but needs Faith in Christ Jesus for access to
TRUTH and Eternal Life.

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“Where art thou?” (Gen 3:9) was God’s gracious REDEMPTIVE initiative, to reach
perishing and REPROBATE Humanity that they may REPENT and RETURN to God
for RESTORATION of RELATIONSHIP. Divine REDEMPTIVE REVELATION is gracious
unfolding of God’s Purpose and manifestation of God’s Power that best answer
Humanity’s Problem. Human innate RESPONSES to this divinely Revealed and
gracious Redemptive initiative have variously included:
 REBELLION due to HARDNESS OF HEART against God, Hiding from God,
Denying guilt, Shifting blame (Gen 3:9-13),
 IGNORANCE blindly GROPING after God (Act 17:24-28) with superstitious
and spurious speculation about God (Act 17:18-23),
 FUTILITY of IDOLATRY due to failure to perceive God’s attributes through
His visible creation (Rom 1:18-23),
 FOLLY of ATHEISM that thinks there is no God (Psa 14:1-3).
These human responses to God’s initiative and human efforts to find God are
inadequate to satisfy divine merits such as could save humanity from human
DEPRAVITY, demonic DOMINATION and divine DAMNATION in order to restore
humanity to divine glory. Therefore in Christ, God has offered divine grace to
humanity adequate enough for eternal salvation for whosoever believes (John
3:16).
The ultimate offer of the Gospel of Christ is that there is no other Name given
UNDER HEAVEN whereby humans (Jews and Gentiles) could obtain eternal
salvation except by the Name of Jesus Christ (Act 4:10-12). For all promises of
God find their fulfilment in Christ (2Cor 1:18-22) and God has given Him a Name
above every other Name that at the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and
every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Php 2:9-12). And all power in
heaven and on earth has been given to Him (Matt 28:18; John 13:3; 1Cor 15:217

27; Eph 1:20-23). For, by raising Jesus from the dead and taking Him to heaven,
God has shown the world that He is the prophesied divine Christ and divine Son
(Incarnate-Creator-Logos John 1:1-5, 8-14) Who now redeems the world through
the blood of His death and shall finally judge the world (Act 13:33-39; 17:30-31;
Rom 1:2-5). Concerning our ultimate need of faith in Christ for gracious access to
the saving Truth and Eternal Life, Jesus Himself has these to say:
John 14:6
(6) Jesus said to him, "I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father
EXCEPT THROUGH ME.
John 10:7-10
(7) So again Jesus said, "TRULY, TRULY I TELL YOU, I AM THE GATE for the sheep.
(8) All who came before me are thieves and bandits, but the sheep did not listen to them.
(9) I am the gate. If anyone enters THROUGH ME, he will be SAVED. He will come in and go
out and find pasture.
(10) The thief comes only to steal, slaughter, and destroy. I HAVE COME THAT THEY MAY
HAVE LIFE, and have it abundantly.
John 3:13-18
(13) "No one has gone up to heaven except THE ONE WHO CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN,
THE SON OF MAN who is in heaven.
(14) Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted
up,
(15) SO THAT EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM MAY HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.
(16) "For this is how God loved the world: He gave his unique Son so that everyone who
BELIEVES in him might not perish but have ETERNAL LIFE.
(17) For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world
might be SAVED through him.
(18) Whoever BELIEVES in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has
already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God's unique Son.

The purpose of the Christian Gospel missions and evangelism, apologetics and
dialogue is to help all humanity to accept the blessedness of divine revelation
and Truth in the Bible and receive the blessedness of eternal salvation and Grace
in Christ. Christian dialogue does not only look for agreeable grounds for
tolerant coexistence, shared concerns and common courses, it also looks for the
best connection between Christ’s incarnation and the awareness of the
Almighty Creator God in every religion and culture, so as to proclaim the offer of
Christ’s eternal salvation in that context without syncretism or acrimony but in
respectful coexistence. Christ has satisfied divine atoning requirements and
therefore sufficiently liberates humanity from sevenfold formidable bondages to:
 carnal passion of the sinful nature (Gal 5:15-24),
 worldly pride in mundane prominence and passion for material possession
(1John 2:15-17),
 celestial evil powers of wickedness (Eph 1:20-21; 2:2), and
 terrestrial blind principalities of darkness (Eph 6:10-13).
 Gentile rudimentary and idolatrous manipulations (Gal 4:1-10; Col 2:6-10,
20),
 Jewish legalistic and ritual regulations (Gal 3:22-26; Col 2:11-19),
 Divine wrath against our sinfulness (Eph 2:3-5),
Christian REVERENCE/RELIGION/SPIRITUALITY begins with Repentant RETURN to
God through FAITH, OBEDIENCE and GRATITUDE in Christ:
 to RECEIVE His Divine Grace of Redemptive Revelation and Reconciliation in
Christ (Rom 1:2-6),
 to RELATE in holiness with God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and
 to REVEAL God and His Grace to the world around us.

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Updated March 15, 2015
by Ven. Dr. I. U. Ibeme
Copyright © PriscAquila Publishing, Maiduguri, Nigeria.
Click here for PriscAquila Christian Resource Centre
http://priscaquila.6te.net

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