by Jeff Reed
An interesting event happened February 4 when Pope Francis visited Dubai. He met with a Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb and they signed an agreement that among many things included the statement that “pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race, and language are willed by God.” I agree that diversity of color, sex, and race are willed by God. That is obvious and found in Scripture. What is alarming is that the leader of the Catholic Church, representing 1.2 billion people, would support the idea that “pluralism and diversity of religions … are willed by God.” It is also shocking that no major news media organizations pointed out his obvious inconsistency and hypocrisy with the Bible since Francis claims to follow Jesus.
The Apostle Paul addressed the subject of religious plurality when he was visiting Athens, Greece. He noticed that the Athenians were very religious and worshipped a lot of idols. He found an altar with the inscription “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” and used the opportunity to teach about the only way of salvation. He went on to explain:
“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:24-31).
Paul clearly states that God does not want us to think of Him as “something shaped by art and man’s devising,” and he goes on to explain that God wants all people to repent and put their faith in the resurrected Christ. Paul in this declaration to the Athenians is essentially deconstructing the idea of religions. Religions are man-made ideas about God. It is the way that primitive cultures try to explain things they do not understand. Where did lightning come from? Their answer is a lightning god. Why do we have the oceans? Their answer is an ocean god. These basic ideas evolved throughout history to include many gods and many religions all derived out of the imaginations of men. Paul is teaching that there is only one God who made everything and we must worship and serve Him.
As a follower of Jesus I agree with Paul. All the thousands of religions are fake. The gods that they worship do not exist! We need to understand that God does not work with different people through different religions. Every one of them is wrong. This is something that I have in agreement with atheists. The only difference with an atheist is that as a Christian I accept the historical fact of the Resurrected Christ. Accepting this fact I am convicted to look to Jesus as my Savior and example. I now have an obligation to live an obedient life to Scripture and share this hope with others. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Pope Francis, in his agreement with the Muslim cleric, must think that he is working toward some sort of world peace. That is how it is being reported. He is mistaken. There will never be peace and prosperity for the people of this world until they accept the only way that leads to life. As a follower of Christ I know that it is coming only when He returns.