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Recently, Probe Ministries, an apologetics ministry geared toward students, conducted a survey (Religious Views & Practices Survey) to get a sense of the thinking of those they are trying to reach with their ministry. This survey was actually conducted in 2020 and interviewed 3100 Americans ages 18 to 55. In general, they found that there is a “striking decline” in evangelical religious beliefs and practices over the last 10 years – a fact that shouldn’t surprise anyone who is paying any attention at all to what is going on in modern society. This survey dealt with a number of different topics, but here we want to take a look at just one of them.
The shocking finding we will look at here is that over 60% of self-identified born again Christians in America between the ages of 18 and 39 believe that Buddha, Muhammad, and Jesus are all valid paths to salvation. The survey went on to show that over 30% of this same group believe that Jesus sinned just like other people when He lived on Earth, or they are not sure.
Take special note here that this survey is not polling the American population in general. I’m sure that if that demographic were polled, the results would be significantly higher. We are talking here about people who claim to be born again Christians. As we analyze this finding, there are a few things we need to look at.
First, Buddha, Muhammad, and Jesus each presented a completely unique way of understanding the nature of ultimate reality. Buddha saw ultimate reality as an impersonal life force. He believed there is “something” out there beyond the natural universe, but there is “nobody.” Muhammad believed there is a God out there (Allah), but that he is so transcendent (separated from man) that he cannot be known personally. Essentially, God is seen as the owner of all, including human beings, and humans interact with him as a slave to a master. Jesus represents God as a person who wants to have an intimate, personal relationship with human beings. Buddha, Muhammad, and Jesus all have entirely different ways of representing who God is and what He is like.
Second, Buddha, Muhammad, and Jesus each understand the nature of man in different ways. To Buddha, man is an illusory expression of the impersonal life force. This life force is completely immaterial and has no personality. For Muhammad, human beings are slaves of Allah. They have a free will to obey or disobey him, but cannot engage him in a personal relationship. Jesus recognized human beings to be person’s made in the image of God with the personhood characteristics of God Himself. This makes human beings capable of engaging God in a personal relationship. Buddha, Muhammad, and Jesus all have entirely different ways of understanding the very nature of human beings.
Third, Buddha, Muhammad, and Jesus had completely different beliefs about the ultimate one can gain in life. For Buddha, the ultimate humans can ever achieve is personal extinction by reaching a place where the spirit animating their life leaves this material, personal world and rejoins the impersonal transcendent life force. For Muhammad, the ultimate is to live a life where a person’s good deeds outweigh the bad, and they get to go to heaven where they will enjoy an eternity of sensuous living. For Jesus, the ultimate is for individuals to enter into a personal relationship with God so that at physical death they get to spend eternity fellowshipping with Him. Buddha, Muhammad, and Jesus all have completely different ways of understanding the very concept of salvation.
In the end, Buddha, Muhammad, and Jesus all represent completely different ways of understanding the structure and nature of reality. Their views entirely contradict each other. Ultimately, it is impossible for the three to all represent the truth.
What the Probe survey shows, then, is that there are a lot of ignorant self-professed Christians out there. What it also shows is that many of the people who self-identify as born again Christians are actually not Christians at all – they don’t adhere to Christian beliefs. One more thing that it shows is that many of the people in your own church are, very likely, not Christians. All of this is definitely something to ponder.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.
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