Interfaith Dialogue

Should Christians Engage in Them?

 

By Dr. Ken Matto

 

Matthew 7:15 (KJV)   Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

 

One of the most dangerous events which Christians partake in is the “interfaith dialogue.”  For some reason theologians who love to have the preeminence (like Diotrephes in 3 John 9) have taken it upon themselves to once again do the thinking for entire congregations of Christians.  They believe that it is wise to bring someone in who is a representative of a false religion and then have some type of dialogue with them.  They think this will expose their false teachings but the problem is that the Christians are always the ones who back off and allow the false teachers all the time they want to spew their false teachings.

 

Whenever Christians dialogue with Roman Catholics, it is the Christians who back down and allow them to spew their heresy.  It is the same with Islam, Christian theologians do the same thing.  They allow these heretics to come into churches and spew their lies.  The reason that the Christians always back off is because they don’t want to offend their guest of honor.  Is it honorable to these self-appointed theological gurus that their guest of honor is keeping their people in a state of unbelief and causing many to go to hell through their false teaching?  Our responsibility as Christians is to know the Bible not the Koran, Urantia Book, Divine Principle, Book of Mormon, Dianetics, The Great Controversy et al.  Do these theological experts actually think that they can argue someone into Heaven?  The majority of Christians should never be exposed to any of these false teachers simply because the majority of Christians are biblically illiterate and will become confused when they are confronted with false teaching.  Any pastor who willingly allows false teachers into their churches should be fired on the spot!!  This is not a game of self-exaltation especially when eternal souls are at stake.  I have been saved for 36 years and I have yet to hear about a Christian going into a Mosque or into a Roman Catholic Church or a Mormon Church or Church of Scientology to bring the true gospel and show them their errors.  It is always the Christians who bring these heretical liars into their church to expose their congregations to false teachings.

 

Interfaith dialogue can be traced back to one major dialogue back in the book of Genesis.  It is the dialogue between Eve and Satan!  Let’s briefly look at this interfaith dialogue and see what happened that caused all the problems you and I have today!

 

Genesis 2:16-17 (KJV)   And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  {17} But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

 

Here we have God giving instructions to Adam before Eve was created.  God told Adam that he was allowed to eat from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  It carried double consequences: 1) Adam and Eve instantly died a spiritual death, and 2) their bodies now began to die by means of the aging process.

 

Genesis 2:22 (KJV)   And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

 

God declares that it is not good that man should be alone so God created Eve and brought her unto Adam.  This was the first wedding, Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!


Now the interfaith dialogue begins in chapter 3.

 

Genesis 3:1 (KJV)   Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

 

The word “subtil” in the Hebrew carries with it the meaning of “cunning, crafty, and clever.”  Why was the serpent more subtil and any beast of the field?  It was because of who was indwelling it.  Notice his first line of attack was getting her to question what God said.  The first line of offense of the false teacher is to get the Christian to doubt what God said in the Scriptures by means of false interpretation.  He asks her if God really stated that she should not eat of “every” tree of the garden.  He is now getting her to ponder God’s statement concerning the tree.  Whenever a false teacher begins to assault Christianity and attempts to replace the truth with the false teaching, they must first create a doubtful atmosphere and then fill it with their teaching before the hearers have a chance to fully process what is being taught.  They must make their teaching sound compatible with the Scriptures and once they do that, then they have introduced divine approbation and acceptance will be forthcoming by the hearers.  This is part of the cunning, crafty nature of the false teachers.

 

Genesis 3:2-3 (KJV)   And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  {3} But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

 

Here Eve begins her response to Satan’s question concerning the trees in the garden.  Remember back in Genesis 2:16-17 that God told Adam that he was not to eat of the tree.  Now we look in Genesis 3:3 and we see that Eve added to God’s command by stating that even if they touched the tree they would die.  This is what happens in a dialogue, words get added and subtracted and meanings begin to become compromised.  This is the goal of the false teacher to get you to widen the meaning of strict commands.  There is a tremendous verse in Proverbs which gives a warning about excessive speech or dialogue.

 

Proverbs 10:19 (KJV)   In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

 

Proverbs 10:19 teaches us that as long as there is a multitude of words, the sin will not cease.  In these interfaith dialogues, there is always a multitude of words and the outcomes are never in favor of true Christianity.  The one who refrains his lips from speaking too much is wise because they do know the power of words. If they only speak what is necessary, then they will let the other person make a decision on what was said, since it is easier to digest a small amount of words than a never ending one-sided dialogue.

 

Genesis 3:4 (KJV)   And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

 

The serpent now makes a dogmatic statement to Eve.  After the dialogue took place, who was still doing the talking?  It was Satan and we do not read one refutation by Eve against this statement which was in direct disobedience to the command God gave.  The false teachers in these interfaith dialogues love to make dogmatic statements as if they are divinely inspired and they make them in a believable way by making the statement first and then adding the explanation of their statement.

 

Genesis 3:5 (KJV)   For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

 

Once the bomb is dropped, then after that comes the fallout.  Satan goes on to tell Eve that first of all she will not die.  Then Satan goes on to tell Eve that the only reason that God does not want her to eat from that tree is because she will become like Him.  In other words, Satan was telling her that if she eats from the tree she will attain god status.  It is the same lie being told today by the New Age Movement and Mormonism that a person has the ability to gain god status.

 

Genesis 3:6 (KJV)   And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

 

Now that Eve had engaged fully in the dialogue, and we do not know how much went on, she goes on to disobey God and makes her husband an accomplice.  This act of disobedience had plunged the entire human race into sin, sorrow, and death.  This was all because Eve chose to dialogue instead of walking away from Satan.  This also happens when dialogue is opened with the false religions of the world.  The false teachers are given an arena they did not have before and that is the local church where the true Christians abide.  Here is a great problem akin to what happened in the Garden to Eve.  Christians may reject immediately what they heard but over time some may begin to start thinking about what they heard and whether it be through demonic suggestion (not indwelling) or through the intellect and eventually it will be “Yeah hath God said.”

 

Here is an example that we need to be aware of.  In 2 Samuel, Amnon the son of David wanted to have sex with his half-sister Tamar.  Amnon did not know what to do or how to accomplish that evil deed.  We may all have one of the following in our circle of friends.  Amnon did and his name was Jonadab plus he was also David’s nephew.

 

2 Samuel 13:3 (KJV)   But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.

 

Notice how 2 Samuel 13:3 describes Jonadab.  He calls him a very “subtil” man.  The word “subtil” in the Hebrew carries with it the meaning of “cunning or wise.”  This is a different word than the one in Genesis 3:1.  Jonadab goes on to tell Amnon how he may fulfill his evil desire and so he follows Jonadab’s advice and commits rape with Tamar but the outcome was not as he expected.

 

2 Samuel 13:15 (KJV)   Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.

 

After he raped her, he no longer loved her.  In fact he never loved her but he lusted after her.  Satan in the Garden to Eve was like Jonadab to Amnon.  Neither Eve nor Amnon received the outcome they had anticipated.  The reason I bring this episode up is simply because once we start doubting God’s word or questioning it, there will always be someone right there to help us stray with confidence.  That someone may be a person or some type of writing which we will read and then once confusion sets in, truth takes the train out of town.

 

No doubt the following question will come up, “What about all the dialogues which Jesus and the others had in the Bible, aren’t those the same?”  The answer is no they are not.  The dialogues which we read in the Bible were not of the same nature of the interfaith dialogues of today which basically quash Christian teachings and exalt the false teachings.  What we read in the Bible were in defense of the truth!  Most of those situations the Christians found themselves in were life and death.  The Christians were not going to the false religions and asking them to come to their house and dialogue.  When the false religions attacked, the Christians defended and that is the only time a Christian should face off against a false religion.

 

1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)   But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

 

The Greek word behind “an answer” in 1 Peter 3:15 is the word “apologia” and it carries with it the meaning of “reply, a verbal defense, answer, or defense.”  Here is how the word is used in some other verses.

 

Acts 22:1 (KJV)   Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.

 

Philippians 1:7 (KJV)   Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

 

Philippians 1:17 (KJV)   But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.

 

2 Timothy 4:16 (KJV)   At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

 

The word “apologia” as is evident in these verses is in keeping with the judicial idea of “defense.”  This is what the Christian is to be prepared for and the only way they can be prepared for it is by studying and knowing the Scriptures well.  There is nothing in the Scriptures which commands or even hints at the Christian to study the materials of false religions.

 

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)   Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

The word “study” in the Greek carries with it the meaning of “to work hard, be diligent, make every effort, labor, be earnest.”  It carries with it also the meaning of “haste or be eager.”  In other words, this word is telling us to be hasty and diligent in learning God’s word, not diligent in learning the false teachings of the false religions.  If we know the Bible well, we can refute any false religion without spending days or months studying false teachings which may eventually cause confusion in our own lives.  For example:

 

Hinduism – Reincarnation – Hebrews 9:27

Roman Catholicism – Mary as Co-Redemptrix – 1 Tim. 2:5

Islam – Kill the Infidels if they do not convert – Ex. 20:13

Jehovah’s Witnesses – Holy Spirit is only an active force – John 14:26

 

Here are four major world religions which can be easily refuted by the word of God.  It does not matter whether the one you are speaking to accepts what you are saying or not.  The fact is, that you have delivered the truth and if they be the Elect of God, they will become saved at some time in their life.  No one can argue or debate anyone into Heaven, it is all by the grace of God.  Christians knowing false doctrine does not profit them anything, knowing the word of God profits them everything.  This is why the word of God is referred to as a Sword because it is both a defensive weapon and an offensive weapon.

 

Now let us list some of the dialogues in the Bible:

 

Stephen before the Sanhedrin – Acts 7 – Defense of the Gospel

Peter on day of Pentecost – Acts 2 – Defense of the Gospel

Paul before King Agrippa – Acts 26 – Defense of the Gospel

Peter before the Sanhedrin – Acts 5 – Defense of the Gospel

Paul on Mars Hill – Acts 17 – Defense of the Gospel

Paul Before the crowd in Jerusalem – Acts 22 – Defense of the Gospel

Jesus before the Sanhedrin – John 18 – Defense of the Gospel

 

As you can see that Jesus, Peter, Paul, and Stephen had dialogues with people concerning the Gospel and all were in defense of the Gospel.  There were no set ups with false teachers taking their time to explain their false views.  All of these dialogues were not of their choosing as they were brought before political and religious leaders to defend their positions.  The essence of dialogue is the defense of the gospel when needed not set up for a certain time to puff up theologians who think they can handle the false teachers.

 

Summary

The problem with interfaith dialogues is that it gives the false religions an inroad to the body of Christ on a large scale.  It can be detrimental to the young Christian who does not discern properly yet and can cause them to stray by injecting confusing teachings.  When I first became a Christian, I sent money to Salesian Missions which is Roman Catholic.  It wasn’t until later that the Lord got the truth to me and that was the end of my support of them.  The Bible gives us the model concerning dealing with false religions and that is to be a defender of the truth when called upon to do so.  We find no examples of interfaith dialogues in the Bible but we do find examples of defending the Gospel.  As we look at the history of the church, there are countless number of Christians who have defended the Gospel and many have paid with their lives.

 

Some of them are Martin Luther, John Hus, John Wycliffe, John Rogers, William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and so many more who stood before their accusers and defended the true Gospel.  What good does it do for many Christians to know the false religions when the majority of Christians do not even know the true Bible?  Nowhere in Scripture are we to pander to false religions, instead we are to expose it and reject it, not invite it into our churches.  Let’s see a show of hands on this one.  How many here would invite a Satanist into their home?  I thought so!  Well that is exactly what you are inviting into your church because all false teaching is against Christ and the truth of the Bible and the author is Satan who brings these false teachings through his minions.  Whenever you hear these false teachers, it will only be a very short time till you hear the “yeah hath God said?” line.  Avoid interfaith dialogues and keep your mind on the straight and narrow!

Back