As our society becomes increasingly pluralistic, it gets harder to claim that there is just one “right” way to believe. More and more, Christianity is seen as not only naïve but actually hateful for not affirming the truth claims of other religions. This week, Vince and Jo field questions about whether the culture we’re raised in determines our beliefs, what we are to make of religions that predate Christianity, and whether Jesus or Mohammed brings salvation.
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Michael Davis: Hello and welcome to another episode of Ask Away with Vince and Jo Vitale. I'm your host, Michael Davis. Many of the attacks made against the Christian faith since the very beginning even starting with the early church have bucked the truth that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.
This exclusivity of the gospel is no longer seen as simply silly by secularists. They see it as hateful because it does not respect for affirm other religions or their truth claims. Why is it that Christianity can't allow for multiple ways to God? Why can't Muhammad save instead of Jesus?
But before we get started, Vince, can you tell our listeners a little bit about John Lennox's new book, Can Science Explain Everything? Available for purchase at your favorite book retailer.
Vince Vitale: Absolutely. I'm really excited about this book and there are very few people in the world that you can find who know as much about science and as much about the Bible and who are as good at communicating it as John Lennox.
We've been so blessed by him personally, in terms of his friendship and his mentorship, and anything that he writes, we absolutely wanted to get to. So I highly recommend this book. It's so important culturally. You do meet so many people that think that there is this incompatibility and there is a dichotomy and you have to choose between either faith or science.
You need someone who really understands both faith and science to be able to say, "No. You can believe in scientific explanations in a robust way and yet hold on to a very strong and personal faith."
I'm just reminded of my colleague, Nathan Rittenhouse, who said that somebody said to him in response to that sort of position, "So you wanna have your cake and eat it too?" And he said, "No. I wanna have my cake and I wanna know the baker." I loved that.
Michael Davis: That's so Nathan Rittenhouse.
Vince Vitale: It's so Nathan Rittenhouse but I love that line. But I think you'll find in John's book one of the best presentations that you'll ever find of how you can be genuinely for a scientific approach and the beauty of the world that you can discover through the sciences that God has made available to us and still have a very personal faith that holds on to the reality and the possibility of miracles and a personal relationship with God.
Michael Davis: Okay. Let's get to our questions. The first one is from Jimmy. How do I respond to someone who says that on the whole, where you live in your social background will be the determining factor for what you believe. A sort of cultural determinism. For example, if someone was born in and lives in Saudi Arabia, there's a good chance he will be a Muslim.
Jo Vitale: Jimmy, I really think this is a valid question. I think it's one that people have all the time as well. There's a certain truth to it that we all grew up in a particular cultural matrix where, inevitably, our ideas are formed by the society around us that shapes us, the families we grew up in.
And, so, we all have a certain lens through which we see the world and often what this leads to is this idea that, therefore, we can never see things objectively. We'll always sort of see it through a tinted lens of the particular glasses that we're wearing.
And, so, then people often ask the question, "How can we ever get to objective truth if we only ever see things subjectively?" One thing I wanna note here is often this challenge is just leveled against religious people. But, actually, if this is true, it's true of everybody.
It's true of atheists as well. If you grow up in a secular context, like the U.K., for example, today, then the idea of God might seem nonsensical to you. That's why most people in England don't believe that Jesus existed and it's so ironic for a nation with Christian roots.
But it has nothing to do with whether anyone looked into the evidence or not, which is actually incredibly strong, but it's just this general cultural feeling that people are living in.
Michael Davis: Yeah and I actually think it's a better objection against atheism than against God because, if atheism were true, then, yes, you would generally only believe in Atheism if you were born in certain places where that's a live option for your belief: where that's considered a reasonable belief.
Now, theism, if an omnipotent God exists, as we believe, then God can break in any where.
Vince Vitale: Yeah.
Michael Davis: And he can break in everywhere at any time. But, actually, this is more true on atheism, that you would only wind up being an atheist if you were in a certain part of the world at a certain, very narrow slice in history.
Jo Vitale: Yeah. It's a challenge I had leveled at me all the time growing up in England. People say, "Well, Jo, your dad's a pastor. Of course you're gonna be a Christian." That's just what you believe. The irony being not everyone in my family are Christians despite the home and the family that we grew up in.
In fact, I once had a conversation with a family member who was just being really honest and doing some deep soul searching. They said, "I believe in God but how can I know if that belief is actually true or if I was brainwashed as a child?"
I think what that speaks to is how crippling this idea of cultural determinism can be because oftentimes what happens is we feel so hopelessly caught up in our own backgrounds that it leads to the sort of confusing mind game where you think, "How do I trust my own instincts?"
Sometimes what happens is the opposite. Rather than staying in the belief you grew up in, we can also become so suspicious of our beliefs that we reject them out of hand because we're just scared of cultural brainwashing.
Actually, I meet that a lot with Christians growing up in the South here in Georgia where they've been a part of Christian families and sometimes this leads to this knee-jerk reaction that it must not be true just because they grew up in it. But that's not gonna help you either, actually, because that is a reaction based out of fear rather than a reaction based on finding new evidence on new truth.
Vince Vitale: Yeah, I think sometimes this objection seems more persuasive until you start getting to know people deeply and start getting to know their spiritual stories quite deeply.
Both Michael and I are examples of people who didn't believe just because of the families that we grew up in, especially you, Michael.
Michael Davis: Yeah. Exactly. I was born in Israel to an atheist mother and father. So, yes, absolutely.
Vince Vitale: When you think about, even right now, what are the fastest growing countries in terms of Christian population? China.
Jo Vitale: Iran.
Vince Vitale: Probably Iran could be number two. Nobody would've said that based on just where people were growing up. Michael made a great point earlier. We were discussing, before the show as well, that Christianity never would've left Israel if that were the case. Right?
Jo Vitale: Yeah.
Vince Vitale: The whole fact that there is a Christian faith which is global is precisely because it spread into cultures where it shouldn't have just based on the prior cultural belief.
So I think it really does show that God can break in anywhere.
Jo Vitale: Right. So the point here being, you shouldn't just believe something because you're brought up in it, but nor should you just reject something because you're brought up in it either.
Instead, I think the starting point for everyone of us has to be: are we honest about our own cultural presuppositions and biases to be willing to ask the question, "What are my beliefs?" And then, "Why do I believe what I believe? Do I have good evidence for it? And, if not, is there good evidence? And, if not, is there another way of seeing the world that's more plausible and has a better explanation of the facts?"
People often say, "Well, Jo, you just believe what you believe because you're a pastor's kid." Rather than thinking, well, perhaps some sincere searching went on at some point in life and I stayed within my faith not because I didn't ask questions but actually because, ultimately, I did and it was a very sincere search. But I still came to the place of thinking, "Wow. God, thank you so much that I actually believe. I happened to be somebody who grew up knowing the truth."
And that's just a logical outworking that if there's such a thing as right and wrong and true and false, then in this world, a lot of us are gonna grow up with wrong belief, but some people are gonna grow up in the space where they actually happen to be blessed enough to believe the right thing. It doesn't mean that my faith hasn't evolved and changed and matured, that I haven't been challenged. But, actually, that the God I believed all along has shown Himself to be faithful and true.
Vince Vitale: Right, and if you grew up in a place where the belief that was the natural belief of your family or your culture, you investigated it and it wound up being true, then that's not a reason to devalue that belief, that's a reason to highly value that belief, receive it as a great gift, and want to share it with other people.
Michael Davis: Right.
Vince Vitale: It's also the case that certain vaccinations that we get regularly in this country, you don't get every where in the world. That's partly just a product of the culture and the place that we grew up in. That doesn't mean we don't value them. It should mean that we value that even more and that we, as a culture, should be committed to finding ways to make sure other people can get those vaccinations in other places around the world as well.
Jo Vitale: Right. I also just think more and more this criticism melts because of how pluralistic the world is becoming. We're so global as a society right now that it's very hard to stay in a bubble where you're not getting information from outside now.
We had a really interesting conference a couple of weekends ago on understanding and answering Islam. One of the things we were talking about was freedom and, sometimes, people grew up in places where they don't have the freedom to choose what to believe, where, actually, culturally, it's very hard to even be allowed to ask questions.
But what I found so interesting- speaking to one of my friends who grew up in Turkey as a Muslim and actually her journey towards atheism-it wasn't so much that she met people from outside who challenged her beliefs. It wasn't about the people she ran into because she was in a very closed system but sometimes you don't need to meet other people to change your mind.
But, actually, even your experience of the world and the kind of questions you ask just as a human being lead you to look at whatever beliefs you grow up with and then look at the world you're encountering and to see where there's incoherence and where actually things are inconsistent.
So, actually, she became a secret atheist for a long time before she then later became a Christian. But often people are deeply searching and I think we underestimate people and the deep questions that they're asking.
But I also think we underestimate God and how committed He is to reaching people and revealing Himself to them wherever they are in the world.
Michael Davis: I was actually gonna ask that. That point: we talk a lot about how God pursues us. Isn't it possible that God pursues us with our families?
Vince Vitale: Yes. Yeah. Absolutely. I think- I wanna affirm this objection but I've said this before- I think it's God's objection. Right? It's the reason that He's not happy with the current state of affairs. It's why He says things like, "The gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations and then the end will come."
Michael Davis: Yeah.
Vince Vitale: Why does it say that? Because God's not willing for there to be an end until this message has been preached to all of the nations and the entire world. He objects to the fact that there are cultures in places where it's unlikely for people to get to know Him and that's why His final and great commission was to send people out, send us out as Christians to try to rectify that problem.
I think you guys are absolutely right, as well, that sometimes we underestimate God. I always think about the criminal on the cross next to Jesus who came to faith in those last moments and everything that he had experienced beforehand had brought him to a point where he was ready to recognize Jesus for who he was and ready to respond to him. But no one would have known that and everyone would've said, "He was in a family, in a cultural context, in which he wouldn't likely have come to believe." And yet he did and people wouldn't have known tha but God still had a way of breaking in, even in those last moments of life.
Jo Vitale: So I think the point here is we just need to have intellectual humility. We need to be people who are willing to check our blind spots to allow others to bring challenge to us and accept those challenges and sincerely wrestle intellectually.
But I also wanna say, if you've grown up a Christian and people say this to you and it feels devastating when they bring this challenge, don't let people bully you into thinking that your faith isn't real just because you happened to grow up in it.
We don't need to be swayed by every argument that comes against us. Is it a good argument or not? And if it's not good, you can let it go. I know for a long time I would always find myself in the position of assuming that if someone says something loudly or angrily or with a lot of confidence then they must know more than me.
I would back down and find myself in all these corners where, actually, if I just dug a little deeper, and asked them what the evidence was for the statement they were making or why they said it or why they thought it. Often people say things very loudly but they haven't done any of the homework to back it up. It's just kind of this empty assertion, so don't let people sway you.
Because this isn't about the intellectual arrogance of saying, "I'm right and I'm gonna dig in and nothing you can do can change my mind." But it's more about saying, "I've encountered something very real in the person of Jesus Christ and this relationship is foundational in my life and I know who God is and I can be very, very confident in that, even as I work out my faith with fear and trembling."
Vince Vitale: Just a final thought on this question. A bit more speculative, but I think an interesting point to raise, that person who was born in Saudi Arabia and grew up as a Muslim, it's easy sometimes to think, well, God should have created that person in Georgia in a Christian home and then he, that individual, would've been a Christian.
I don't wanna get into all of it now but it's a really tricky philosophical question to say, "Would that have been the same person?"
Michael Davis: Right.
Vince Vitale: The person who actually was born in Saudi Arabia into a certain family into a Muslim cultural context. You could change all of that and have the same exact person be born in Georgia into a Christian culture? Not clearly. And, so, I think that's interesting as well.
Sometimes we just don't think this through. We say things like, "Oh. I should have been born there." Or, "He should have been born there." We don't think through some of the complexities that God actually thinks through before He makes some of the decisions about how He creates.
And maybe God loves everyone, not just the people who are born into a Christian cultural context where they're really likely to believe. Maybe He loves the person who's born into an Islamic cultural context where they're unlikely to come to believe in Him just as much.
And, therefore, does want that person to come to exist and does want to reach out to them and, if they long to know the truth, provide a way for that person to come to know Him as well. So we also have to be really slow to think and cautious about thinking that we know how to create and govern the universe better than God does.
Michael Davis: Yes. Exactly.
Vince Vitale: My point is just He's taking into account a lot more than we can see when He makes these decisions.
Michael Davis: Absolutely. Okay. Let's get to question number two. This one is from Andrew. I'm asking this question as a believer responding to a possible objection: if Judaism and Buddhism predates Christianity, does that make either one of them right and Christianity wrong?
Vince Vitale: So it's interesting ... At first glance, you might think this is a bit of an odd objection. I think of the person who thinks they're right just because they're old. Most of us probably have someone in our life who's like that. Crazy uncle, just because you're younger, you are clearly wrong on everything and they're clearly right on everything. That's a bit of an odd way to think.
Newtonian physics predate quantum physics. That doesn't make them more true. In fact, the opposite.
Michael Davis: Right.
Vince Vitale: So it's interesting on the surface level, but I think there is, potentially, something quite reasonable in this objection, but we have to ask the question, "What's behind it?" What would we ask someone to find out what's motivating this objection? That's an important question.
Don't just assume what the concern is and start answering the question. We would recommend, ask questions until you are confident of what the actual concern is.
When someone raises an objection like this, to me, I hold off answering it as long as I can, not because I'm afraid to answer it, but because I wanna ask good questions to figure out what is the actual motivating concern behind the question.
So I might ask, "Why do you think that an older world view is more likely to be true?" And somebody might say, "Well, were there people prior to Christianity that God didn't care enough about to give them the truth?" Oh, okay. Alright. Now we're getting to something, now that's a pretty reasonable concern to have.
Now we know what the real question is. The question behind the question. Then you might say to someone, "That's a really interesting thought. When did you first have that thought?"
And somebody might say, "Well, actually, this family member of mine who I was close to just passed away and they were someone that never really was exposed to Christianity in a significant way and it got me thinking. Did God not care as much about that family member as he did about me? And then that got me thinking, well, maybe there's lots of people. In fact, there are all these people who existed before Christianity that it seems like God didn't care enough about to reveal himself the way he's revealed himself to others."
Oh, alright. Okay. Now we're ready to actually start responding to the question because we know what's behind it. It's not just a simplistic question that's assuming that because something's older, it's better. But it's actually a question about God's fairness, about God's care, about God's love for people.
So it actually is getting at quite central facets of Christianity. We want to take that question really seriously. But if we just jump in with an answer in the first place, we might miss all of that.
Our colleague, Michael Ramsden, he often says, "The right answer to the wrong question is always wrong."
Michael Davis: Yeah.
Vince Vitale: We make that mistake. I make that mistake all the time when dealing with questions like this.
Jo Vitale: Yeah. That's so good. And, actually, once you've got to that place, you can break it down in different ways. Because this question talks about Judaism and Buddhism, and, actually, they're very different faith systems.
Vince Vitale: Yes, they are.
Jo Vitale: So you can talk about those in different ways, but one thing to say here is, actually, you can then immediately get to the heart of that objection. If that's the concern behind it, then, actually, you can say, "You're absolutely right that Judaism did predate Christianity. But, in fact, the God of Christianity is the God of Judaism."
As Christians, we don't think Christianity came out of nowhere. Jesus was Jewish. The people he first came to save were the Jews and, so, as Christians, we say, "Hey. The history of the Jews is the history of Christianity. We share that same history and we believe God was a speaking God long before Christ came."
Christ is the fullest revelation of who God is. But God is infinitely concerned about the world from way back and we see the story of His faithfulness, that's the story of the Old Testament, it's a story of a God constantly reaching out to make Himself known, always with that long term vision of wanting the Jews not just to know Him themselves, but they were called to be a blessing to all the nations. It was always outward facing, outward focused desire to see salvation come all the way to the ends of the earth as it says in the book of Isaiah.
So, as Christians, we're not dismissing Judaism. Far from it. But what we're saying is, actually, the very ultimate hopes of Judaism, everything that they were wrapped up in, that hope for a salvation, for a Messiah, for God to come and rescue, the fulfillment of covenant, that all those things are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Vince Vitale: Yeah, that's right. The history of Christianity goes back to Adam and Eve. So there was never a point before Christianity where there were people on this earth that God didn't care about revealing Himself to.
In fact, His revelation to them was very intimate. They heard from Him directly. They walked with Him in the garden. And, secondly, He never stopped revealing Himself. Although there is a progression to that revelation over time.
God was in the cloud leading the Israelites, in a cloud. And then they received the Ten Commandments. He's in a geographic area. He's in a city. He's in the temple. In the holy of holies. He speaks through the prophets. Then, in the fullest of revelations, He comes in the person of Jesus and then through the Holy Spirit, He comes actually into one's heart.
There's this progression of intimacy and of the revelation of knowledge throughout time, as God is communicating to his people and beyond. I was thinking about that this morning, in light of the fact that Jo and I are awaiting our first child, that's good parenting. That's just good parenting.
If parents tried to teach an infant everything they know from the very beginning, right? Not much of it's gonna get in there. You're just gonna confuse a young child.
Michael Davis: I'll just take one thing on.
Vince Vitale: One thing, Michael will take and he'll be happy. Exactly. If you just tried to teach everything at once when the child wasn't in a place where they could receive and understand that, you actually wouldn't wind up teaching the child anything.
Michael Davis: Right.
Vince Vitale: You'd just overwhelm them. And, so, that's exactly how good parenting works and, so, we shouldn't be surprised if we see that's exactly how the narrative of Christianity works as well.
Jo Vitale: There's always gonna be questions around why this time? Why then? As soon as you're talking about Jesus because, of course, the act of incarnation is a historical event. That's an incredible thing that God did for so many different reasons.
But, of course, if God comes as a person in history, that does require coming at one time.
Michael Davis: Right.
Jo Vitale: And, so, there are always gonna be people who say, "Well, why didn't he come earlier?" Or, "Why didn't he come later?" We always have those kinda questions but in response to that I say, "Well, look at the legacy of Christianity. Look at the world today and how many Christians there are."
It's hard based on that evidence to not think God knew what he was doing in terms of time and in terms of how this message would be spread and who it would reach.
I love this quote from H.G. Wells, the author, he wrote, "I'm a historian. I'm not a believer but I must confess, as a historian, that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is a irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history."
I think that just stands true. Jesus just stands out above every other historical figure. So whatever God did, whatever His reasons for that time, it clearly worked.
Vince Vitale: And he came at a time where Roman roads and the Greek language made the world connected-
Michael Davis: Right.
Vince Vitale: -in a way that it never had been before. So do we know of God's reasons? No, of course. But even when you just look at it through the light of natural reason with Roman roads and a Greek language, a God who wanted to bring the fullness of a message at a time where it could be dispersed throughout the entire world, that would be a time to do so.
And, again, when you think about the parents, they reveal things, they communicate, they pass on knowledge progressively and then, eventually, when the child becomes an adult, you then move beyond just being a parent and also become a friend. Right? That's what you hope.
You hope that, as the child becomes an adult, you remain the parent, you remain the father or the mother and you also become a friend and that's just what we see through the Christian narrative as well.
That when Jesus comes in that fullest of revelation, he says, "Now I call you friends."
Michael Davis: So this actually brings us to the final question. It says, "Jesus and Muhammad. Who brings salvation?"
Vince Vitale: Well, I appreciate, just as a starting point, that the question assumes that it can't be both. I just find that refreshing because so many people who wanna be positive towards a religion but say, "Well, I think all the major religions are basically the same." You just cannot hold that claim if you actually dig into them at all below the surface.
Ravi always says that, "Maybe, at best, they have superficial similarities but, fundamentally, they are very, very different." So I appreciate that that's understood in the question itself.
Jo Vitale: Absolutely. Because, actually, the irony is when people say that, they're trying not to be offensive, but you just offend everyone.
Michael Davis: Yeah.
Jo Vitale: You couldn't be more patronizing, really, about saying, "You guys think you know what you believe but you just don't. You just don't know what you're talking about. You're all just so confused but let me tell you as an outsider that, really, you're all the same." It kills me.
But what I love about this question is it's getting right to the heart, as well, of what is the point of it all? Because we could compare all sorts of different facets of religions but, at the end of the day, this is the crux. Right? This is the ultimate question.
Who brings salvation? What I actually find intriguing about this question is I actually think only one of them have the claimed to bring salvation. So, sometimes, when it comes to religion, we're assuming everyone's working towards the same goals. Not necessarily true.
So, for example, what is it Muhammad actually teaches? Well, when Muhammad comes, what he says he's doing is he's passing on the teachings given to him by the angel Gabriel. The words of God. The Quran. Not his own. He sees himself as a messenger.
But Muhammad is never actually claiming that he is gonna save anybody and nor does he claim that he's necessarily bringing a message that, if you just follow it, you will have salvation. Instead, he's bringing a set of teachings. A way of life. Where he says, "If you follow these teachings, if you do good, then, hopefully, you'll do enough good to be saved." But there's no guarantee there. There's no promise.
I may have read this before over a year ago but I think this anonymous quote actually says it so well. I'm setting it alongside the different religions.
It says, "Buddha never claimed to be God. Moses never claimed to be Jehovah. Muhammad never claimed to be Allah. Yet Jesus Christ claimed to be the true and living God. Buddha simply said, "I am a teacher in search of the truth." Jesus said, "I am the truth." Confucious said, "I never claimed to be holy." Jesus said, "Who convicts me of sin?" Muhammad said, "Unless God throws his cloak of mercy over me, I have no hope." Jesus said, "Unless you believe in me, you will die in your sins."
So, actually, there's a real honesty to Muhammad in the way he's speaking. He says he, too, needs saving. He, too, is someone in need of saving and he needs God to have mercy on him. Jesus makes the radical, audacious claim that not only does he not need saving but he's the only one who can save everybody else. It's a radical contrast.
Vince Vitale: And that's precisely why. If you are in need of saving, if you're hanging off a cliff, you can't save someone who's hanging off a cliff. You need to be on stable ground, not in need of saving, in order to be able to save someone else.
Muhammad can't do that. Jesus can. I think the other question we have to ask to answer this question is, "What is salvation?" Right? We need to know what salvation is in order to say, "Can Jesus or Muhammad provide that? Or someone else?"
And, again, as Jo's eluded to, we get different answers in different major world views. In Buddhism, the goal is, in some sense, for our desires to cease, for us not to have the desires anymore which could cause us pain and suffering.
In Islam, the goal is to achieve a paradisal state where our carnal desires are fulfilled, but our carnal desires, wine, sex, perpetual virgins. It doesn't appear that there's much in it for the women. A paradise of carnal pleasures, sometimes we can be attracted to that, but I wanna say, "Haven't we tried that?"
I think many of us have tried that. We've tried to pursue the carnal pleasures. We found the carnal pleasures in various ways and the reality is that we've had to say, "That's not fulfilling."
That's not fulfilling in a long-term way. You wake up the next morning and say, "I don't have peace. That's just made me more anxious. It's made me feel more alone and have less intimacy in my life." So I don't think that's the way forward.
In Christianity, I believe the goal is for our deepest desires to be fulfilled, for example, the desire to be fully known and fully loved. There's just so many different ways you could talk about what it is that the Christian God has for us. But that's one way to talk about it. I think that's amazing, to be fully known and fully loved. That's a beautiful picture of salvation and one that, in our human context, we tend to see as impossible.
A conference that we had recently, somebody was making a point around this and asked if there were any volunteers. Throw your hand up if you'd like- We really wanna know you. We wanna know you fully. So throw your hand up if you'd like us to put on the big screen here everything that you've thought and done throughout your entire life. We wanna know you. That sounds good, right?
Well, no one put their hand up. Unsurprisingly. Why? Because we believe that if we're fully known, there's no way we can be fully loved.
Michael Davis: Yeah.
Vince Vitale: Because I think we tend to go for the opposite. We tend to go for fully loved even if not fully known. So we go on Facebook, we go on Instagram, we put a picture of ourselves out there that's not actually a true picture, but we hope it's going to inspire love out of over people. So we're not fully known but at least there's some semblance of a thin form of love.
I think Jesus can bring a true salvation because only He knows us in full and loves us in full. When you read through the Quran, there are a lot of people that the Quran says that Allah hates. It's clear that his love is conditional. He loves people who are obedient to him, who believe in him, but not everyone.
That's very different from the Bible saying, "For God loved the whole world. He for so loved the whole world, that He gave his only begotten Son." Or saying that while we're still sinners, Christ died for us.
The Quran says that those who are sinners, explicitly states, are not loved by God. Here's the Bible explicitly stating that it's while we were sinners that Christ died for us. So you have, in Jesus, the only person who is saying, "Even though I know you in full, I still love you in full and that's why I can bring salvation."
Jo Vitale: Which is so refreshing because it's a hard teaching to be told, "Here's the way to live. I'm laying it out for you. Now go. Go and do it. Survival of the fittest. Every man for himself. Off you go."
In some ways, it plays into our cultural efforts to be self sufficient. We all have a lot of bravado. I feel like one of the phrases I hear most often is, "I've got this. We've got this."
Michael Davis: Yeah.
Jo Vitale: But we do not have this. We just don't have it. I've always loved- my favorite song by Queen was "The Show Must Go On," when Freddie Mercury does this brutal line where he's like, "Inside my heart is breaking, my make up may be flaking, but my smile stays on." I just feel like that is how so many of us live with just faking it.
Deep down, we just know we haven't got it. We're never gonna get it. What happens to the person who's lived a life where they've gone off the rails and they have that moment in the end where they wanna be different, but there's no time to do enough good works to make up for the life they've lived?
There's no hope as Vince already talked about of that hanging on a cross as a convicted criminal last minute repentance. You can't. There's nothing left. There's no time to earn anything.
I think the disciples had this moment with Jesus, where they clocked this, where Jesus encounters a rich young ruler who says, "What do I have to do to be saved?" And Jesus tells him and he goes all sad because he thinks he can't do enough. The disciples are shocked because they just think, "Well, if even someone like that can't be saved, who then can be saved?" If he can't do it, we definitely can't. What hope do we have?
And then Jesus looks at them and says, "With man, this is impossible but with God, all things are possible." And that's the difference here. So who brings salvation? Man can't bring salvation. I feel like most of the movies we're seeing at the moment with these strong independent women and often the message there is, "I don't need a man to save me. I will save myself." I agree with half that statement. I don't think a man can save you, but I don't think we can save ourselves either.
With man, it is impossible, but only with God are all things possible. Only God can save you and, so of Jesus and Muhammad, who's claiming to be God?
Michael Davis: Well, guys. We are out of time. Vince, sum it up for us.
Vince Vitale: Well, it was very interesting that, in Islam, another human person took Jesus' place on the cross. The idea of an appointed prophet of God dying in the place of sinners is unthinkable. Right?
It had to be human persons themselves that would bear the burden for their sins. Did someone take Jesus' place on the cross or did Jesus take our place on the cross? That is really the question and it's a question between unconditional love and conditional love.
I think in Islam, you quite clearly have a conditional love. A conditional love will never be strong enough to give your life for someone else, to make that sort of sacrifice, which, alone, can bring salvation.
In the Christian faith alone, I think it's the most significant uniqueness of the Christian faith. You have true unconditional love and that's why, in the person of Jesus, we can be saved.
Michael Davis: Vince. Jo. Thank you guys for joining me. Thank you all for listening and we will catch you guys next time.
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