Are We Wrong to Say They Are Wrong?

In today’s “politically correct” world, most people do not want to hear anyone saying that someone else’s beliefs are wrong. This is a controversial subject that is often avoided at all costs. Many  years ago, when Billy Graham was asked why he does not preach more on baptism, he said it was too controversial. In the days of Christ’s earthly ministry and the early days of the church, men did not avoid subjects that were “too controversial.”  The message of Christ was extremely offensive to the non-believing Pharisees, but notice Jesus’ reaction to this: “Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matthew 15:12-13). Jesus did not go back and apologize to the offended ones for His straight-forward preaching of the Truth. He knew that some would have “ears to hear” and some would not (Matthew 13:3-23; John 6:66-68; 8:37). These same people who were offended later tortured and killed Jesus and almost all of the apostles for declaring their controversial Message.

Many people in the world today have this politically correct attitude, but even many people who claim to be Christians have become influenced by this. Some who call themselves Christians consider it wrong to teach against other religions or to say that someone else is wrong. Have these people considered the fact that when they claim to be Christians, they are implying that their faith is the only valid faith, and all others are wrong?  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6; cf. Acts 4:12). By agreeing with Jesus’ teachings, Christians are rightly saying Jesus is the only way to Heaven. The Christian must then conclude that people who follow Buddhism are wrong, and the same is true for people who follow Islam, Hinduism, or anyone who fails to faithfully follow Christ (Matthew 7:21). Only a coward who calls himself a Christian would be afraid to admit such a basic Biblical fact. To deny such a foundational teaching is to deny Christ Himself as the only Savior available to man!

On the Larry King Live show, Joel Osteen infamously refused to affirm that Jesus was the only way to Heaven:

Larry King: “What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t accept Christ at all?”

Joel Osteen: “You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know…”

King: “If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They’re wrong, aren’t they?”

Osteen: Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong…”

If people claiming to be Christians are afraid to admit that non-Christians will not go to Heaven, they should notice what Jesus said:

“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

To say that those who reject Christ may go to Heaven is to deny that Jesus is who He said He was — the Savior, the only way to Heaven. To say that faithfully following Christ is not the only way to Heaven is also equivalent to saying that Jesus died in vain! There is nothing wrong with a teacher saying that Hinduism is a false religion, and there is nothing wrong with him exposing the teachings of it or any other false teaching, for the sake of saving souls (Ephesians 5:11).

At this point someone may say that as long as we are all teaching under “the umbrella of Christianity,” we should not say that someone else is teaching falsely. This statement implies that doctrine is unimportant (cf. 1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; Titus 2:1; Revelation 2:15).  If that were the case, then why would the Bible warn us so many times about false teachers operating under the disguise of Christianity? (Matthew 7:15-23; Romans 16:17-18; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Timothy 2:17-18; 1 John 4:1; Revelation 2:2, and many more). If doctrine is unimportant as long as one simply believes in Jesus, why were the Galatians lost? (Galatians 1:6-9; 5:3-4). Why were Hymenaeus and Philetus and their followers lost? (2 Timothy 2:17-18). Why would the Bible give us examples of children of God who were corrected by other believers for erroneous teachings and actions? (Galatians 2:11-14; cf. Acts 18:24-26; 2 Corinthians 7:8-11; Revelation 2:2, etc.).

Warning others about spiritual danger with “great plainness of speech” is often necessary for the hearers to fully understand and beware (2 Corinthians 3:12; Colossians 1:28; cf. Ezekiel 3:18, 19). Men like Jesus, Paul, and John openly named sinful individuals and groups to expose them in efforts to end their reign over the minds of men (Matthew 23; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:17-18; 4:14; 3 John 9; Revelation 2:15, 20, etc.). This was not done because of hatred for people, but hatred for sin that causes precious souls to be lost (Psalm 119:104, 128; Ephesians 4:15; Hebrews 1:9; Revelation 3:19).

Although correction among proclaimed followers of Christ is often necessary, it should always be done out of love (1 Corinthians 16:14). These days the term “judging” is often used in a negative sense to describe someone who is trying to correct another. Those crying out, “You can’t judge me” twist Matthew 7:1 (read chapters 6 and 7), making it sound as if it is wrong to correct other followers of Christ. However, the Bible clearly teaches that we are to judge with righteous judgment, even in that same context (Matthew 7:6, 15-20; John 7:24). They are also being hypocritical, because they are judging others for judging others! 

If it is wrong to judge/correct others, why did the church at Corinth have to repent for not judging the fornicating brother? (1 Corinthians 5; 2 Corinthians 7:8-16). John must have been wrong to rebuke King Herod (Mark 6:18), Aquila and Priscilla must have been wrong to correct Apollos (Acts 18:24-26), Paul must have been wrong to confront Peter (Galatians 2:11-14), and the church at Ephesus must have been wrong to confront false apostles (Revelation 2:2). The truth is that what they did was right, and they were merely correcting the erring ones out of a love for them and those on whom they had an influence (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19, 20).

If a sincere person is in error, he should want someone to correct him:

“…rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:8-9; cf. 19:25; Psalm 141:5).

“He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favor than he that flattereth with the tongue” (Proverbs 28:23).

“Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:5-6; cf. Galatians 4:16).

“It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:5).

Just as Christians should try to reach those who do not claim to follow Christ, we should also try to reach and teach those who are striving to be Christ’s followers, yet are lacking in some way. If they are sincere, they will appreciate it, and God will be pleased with us, whether they appreciate it or not.

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