How to Cult Proof Your Mind – Program 5

By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©1998
Wasn’t Jesus just one of many wonderful messengers, akin to Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad or Baha’u’llah? What makes him different?

Jesus in Other Religions

With Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Calvin Beisner, Mr. Bill Cetnar, Mrs. Joan Cetnar, Mr. Ed Decker, Dr. Walter Kaiser, Rabbi Pinchas Lapide, Mrs. Lorri MacGregor, Mr. James Mock, Mrs. Debbie Oakley, Mr. Ken Oakley, Mrs. Helen Ortega, Mrs. Mary Kay Radpour, Dr. Robert Sabin, Dr. Walter Martin, Mr. Nathaniel Urshan

Introduction

[Excerpt from Former Jehovah’s Witnesses Testify]
Mr. Bill Cetnar: The basic reason I changed my mind was that Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be speaking for God. The Bible says that if you are speaking for God, the prophecies that you make, the statements that you make, have to be absolutely true. They have to happen. Jehovah’s Witnesses announced the end of the world for 1874, 1879, 1881, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975. And now they display that new disease called “loss of memory.” They can’t remember ever predicting the end of the world.”
[Excerpt from An Interview with Dr. Walter Martin]
Dr. John Ankerberg: “Okay, what do you do when they say, “Now, if you really want to know the truth, what you have to do is, you’ve got to go and pray about it”?
Dr. Walter Martin: Well, you don’t have to go and pray about something God has specifically said. For instance, God said, “Thou shalt not steal.” Now, it’s ludicrous when you have an opportunity to steal something to bow your head and say, “I’ve got to pray about it.” You know automatically God said it. So when Mormons say, “Pray about the Book of Mormon,” you don’t have to pray about the Book of Mormon, all you have to do is take God’s Word, compare it to the Book of Mormon and Mormon theology and God has spoken. You reject it.

Ankerberg: Besides the major religions in our country, there are more than 3,000 cult groups, all claiming different ways to God. But Jesus said He is the only way to God. Who is right? Logically, one leader or one group could be right, but they can’t all be right at the same time if they are saying contradictory things.

If you are a Christian, do you know how to present the evidence about Jesus? Do you know how to answer people’s questions from the Bible? Is your own mind “cult-proofed” or do you have unanswered questions that cause you doubts? The Bible tells Christians, “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” [1 Pet. 3:15]

On this edition of The John Ankerberg Show, we want to help you by showing you how you can answer the questions of sincere people in the cults and skeptics who are searching for the truth. For your own peace of mind, to learn the information people desperately need to hear, we invite you to join us.


Program 5

Ankerberg: Welcome. How would you answer these questions: “Wasn’t Jesus Christ just one of many wonderful messengers God sent to the world, like Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius and Muhammad? Don’t all roads lead to Heaven?”

Well, in a moment we are going to go to one of our debates where these questions were sharply argued. But let me give you a little background on these questions. First, a common misconception that many people have is that all religious leaders are more or less alike and that what they are teaching is just about the same. So it doesn’t really matter which religion you practice, everyone will end up in the same spot; all roads lead to God. But, if I ask for directions to your house, and you live in New York, would you tell me all roads in New York lead to your house? Pick any road you want? Well, you know that’s not true. Your house is sitting on one specific road in one specific area. Christianity says it makes more sense when it says there is only one true way to God that is clearly marked than many ways that all contradict each other.

When you read the teachings of the great religious leaders and compare them with the teachings of Christ, it’s obvious that they are not all teaching the same thing. For example, Muhammad, Buddha, Gandhi and Zoroaster never claimed to be God. They always pointed away from themselves to someone or something else. Only Jesus Christ pointed people to Himself and said, “I am God; believe on Me.” Jesus outright said: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” [John 14:6]

Now you may say, “That seems very narrow minded of Jesus to say that.” You’re right. Jesus doesn’t give you a lot of options. He says that He is the only way, the only hope you will ever have to be accepted by God. Every person that has ever examined these words of Jesus has been faced with a decision. Was Jesus telling the truth or wasn’t He? I want you to see how this works out in the real world.

Well, we held a debate with some of the national representatives of the Baha’i religion. The Baha’i claim that Jesus wasn’t unique, He wasn’t God in human flesh; rather, they claim that the spirit given to Jesus was also given to other religious leaders down through history and finally resided in Baha’u’llah. The Baha’i believe that Jesus had His own physical body that was different from Baha’u’llah, but think that the spirit that resided in Jesus also was the same that resided in Buddha, Muhammad and later in Baha’u’llah. On this basis the Baha’i conclude that both Jesus and Baha’u’llah are real Sons of God. The problem for the Baha’i is that the Jesus of history won’t allow this. According to Jesus, at the incarnation, the living God joined Himself to a single man.

Further, the Scripture tells us that when God joined Himself together with Jesus, He inseparably joined Himself to this man forever. How do we know? The Bible says, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” [Heb. 13:8] Jesus, in His identity, character and teachings will never change. Further, the Baha’i claim that the revelation that the Christ Spirit gave through Jesus 1900 years ago was only good for then, not for our day, we need different revelation today. But again, the Jesus of history, who rose from the dead, said He alone is God and we are to follow only Him. He warned us about those in the future who would falsely come in His authority and lead people away from Him. [Mark 13:6] I think all of these points will come out in the debate you will hear.

My guests representing the Baha’i were Mrs. Mary Kay Radpour, a frequent lecturer and teacher at the Baha’i schools nationwide; and Mr. James Mock, a national representative for the Baha’i Faith from Wilmette, Illinois. Representing biblical Christianity was my good friend Dr. Walter Martin, author of the classic book, Kingdom of the Cults. The question was, “Is Jesus Christ alone the unique Son of God, the only way of salvation, or was He just one of many wonderful messengers God sent into the world?”


[Excerpt from The Baha’i Faith]
Ankerberg: Okay. I’ve got a little quote here from the official Baha’i publication, The Star of the West. See if this goes along with what you’re saying: “The revelation of Jesus was for His own dispensation, that of the Son, and now it is no longer the point of guidance to the world. Baha’is must be severed from all and everything that is past.”
Mrs. Mary Kay Radpour: That’s true.
Ankerberg: Okay. And then, Jim, maybe I could come to you. And it would be this: these folks that have been manifestations down through history, and I think that they are Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius, Christ, Muhammad, Krishna, Lao, and then Baha’u’llah. Is that correct?
Mr. James Mock: Well, we do not consider Confucius or another person, I’m not familiar with the name, as messengers of God. No. But basically, yes, those are the line.
Ankerberg: Okay. Now, as I understand it, you correct me if I’m wrong, they are all supposed to have spoken with one voice about God and that’s why we can unify them or that’s why you’re trying to unify them. Is that correct?
Mock: Well, we believe that the Baha’i faith comes from Christianity and the other religions such as Christianity came from Judaism. We don’t see it as a blending. We’re not trying to blend the religions together. The Baha’i faith is an independent religion and we believe that it is the fulfillment of all of the religions of the past.
Ankerberg: How about Jesus’ words where He says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man will come to the Father but by me”? [John 14:6] He doesn’t tell us anything about somebody else. He says in Hebrews that He is the same yesterday, today and He is going to be the same forever. [Heb. 13:8] So Christians get the idea that there’s not going to be any other manifestations: He’s it.
Mock: Well, if you talk about “the same today, yesterday, tomorrow, forever,” well, we believe that is the spirit of Christ, not necessarily His physical body or what happened to Him; but the spirit of Christ is the same.
Ankerberg: What do we do about the words that actually say that it is Jesus, not the spirit?
Mock: We still do not differ. Because if – which is our major claim – that indeed Baha’u’llah is that return, you are still following Jesus with the new name that He said…
Ankerberg: Okay, now, if we’ve got Jesus saying that He is going to be the same yesterday, today and forever, it’s actually Jesus’ name on that statement, not the spirit. We have yet to establish why we should switch.
Mock: Well, if you look into Revelation 3, Jesus says that He will call His followers by a new name, [Rev. 3:12] and that implies that His followers will be known as something different in the future. We believe that name…
Ankerberg: Other than “Christian”?
Mock: Other than “Christian.”
Ankerberg: Walter, do you want to comment on that?
Walter Martin: Well, I think that we are missing something here that we have got to get to. There is an attempt being made to say that we are really talking about the same thing; we’re really talking about the same idea. No, we are not talking about the same idea. I said on last week’s program about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and this is absolutely crucial, Jesus Christ said, “I am coming back from the dead in my own body.” [John 2:19] He did. He ascended into Heaven in His own body. He says, when He comes again, they will be able to identify that body. [Acts 1:1-10]
If Baha’u’llah is the fulfillment of that prophecy, he had no wounds in his hands or his feet or his side. He did not come in the clouds of Heaven. He did not usher in eternal judgment or divine righteousness. He simply projected himself as the fulfillment of prophecy.
Anybody can come along and say, “I am the Christ.” There are all kinds of people in the history of cultism that have done this. And just being nice people, as they are, having good ethics and morality, being sincere, isn’t what saves the soul. What saves the soul is a personal relationship with the historic Lord Jesus Christ who died in our place on the cross. In Baha’ism you are getting Baha’u’llah being projected as Christ in our time. That is totally foreign to New Testament theology.
Ankerberg: Jim?
Mock: I think if you look at what Paul said, he said that, “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.”
Martin: That was John.
Mock: You’re right; I’m sorry. It was John, 1 John 4:2. And we confess that. We believe that Jesus came in the flesh. So he goes on to say in verse 3 that any spirit that does not confess Christ, that he came in the flesh, is not of God; that this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which is already in the world with us.
Martin: Let’s extrapolate that further. The Mormons believe in many gods. They believe you can become a god. And therefore they confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. So Mormonism is of God, right?
Mock: I say if they believe that Jesus Christ came and died on the cross…
Martin: Let’s stick with your own guideline. The Mormons say, “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh,” and they believe in many gods and they believe they are going to become gods themselves. Now, Baha’ism rejects that flatly.
Mock: Yes.
Martin: There is only one God, right? Therefore, the argument that to say that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh means automatically you are a believer is nonsense. You’ve got to go to John and read what he says. John is talking about the incarnation. John 1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God… the Word became flesh.” [John 1:1, 14] If you deny the incarnation, says John, you’re going to go to hell. It’s as plain and simple as that.
Well, the Mormons and Baha’ism, Unitarianism and so forth, do not believe in the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation; point blank they don’t believe in it. They don’t believe in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. You do not believe that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are the One Eternal God.
You have in Baha’i theology an eclectic type of religion which borrows from the world leaders. For instance, Zoroastrianism; now you recognize Zoroaster as one of the primal points of manifestation. Zoroaster was a dualist. He believed that there were two eternal gods, Ahriman and Ahura-mazda. You can’t have that: either there’s One Eternal God, or there’s two; but you can’t have it both ways.
And that’s what Baha’ism does. It wants to have all of the religious leaders of the world and their philosophy agreeing essentially as manifestations and culminating in Baha’u’llah, and it will not face the fact that there is internal and external contradiction between their theologies. You cannot have contradiction in God. “I am the Lord thy God; I change not.” [Mal. 3:6]
Mock: Well, if you saw Christ coming back, I mean, it’s the same thing, the same principle: has Christ returned? That is the key to the Baha’i faith: Has Christ returned? And if you say, “Baha’u’llah says that if you deny him, you have denied Christ.”
Radpour: That’s right.
Martin: Well, that’s it. Jesus said he’s a false prophet. He said, “Many shall come in my name saying, ‘I am the Christ.’” [Mark 13:6] He said it. He’s a liar.
Mock: Jesus did not say that Baha’u’llah was a false prophet. Where does it say that?
Martin: It’s got to be one way or the other. If Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and if He is to the exclusion of everybody else the Anointed of God, then Baha’u’llah is not telling the truth.
Mock: No. Are you going to say that when you see the return of Christ, that is not God? Don’t you expect Jesus to return?
Martin: You have made an error in your logic. You have assumed that Baha’u’llah is the return of Christ, something which nobody accepts but you.
Mock: Oh, well, I think there are millions around the world that accept that. And I think that if we go into prophecy…
Martin: But Baha’ism accepts…
Mock: …and point to the prophecy that Christ Himself made about His Second Coming, we can see that Baha’u’llah fulfills these prophecies.
Martin: Alright, “Behold, He is coming with clouds and every eye shall see Him, those also who pierced Him.” [Rev. 1:7] Okay. Did Baha’u’llah come in the clouds of heaven with the wounds in his hands and his feet and his side? Did he?
Mock: Literally, no. Now let’s go to Isaiah. Isaiah 44 defines what a cloud is.
Martin: But before you go running back to Isaiah, stick with John. What did John intend in that context? John said when He’s coming, you’re going to see Him. You cannot jump contexts and go back to Isaiah to explain John.
Mock: Okay, let me ask you, have you been baptized by fire?
Martin: Now you’re using the…
Mock: Other parts of the Bible, they do the same thing.
Martin: What you’re doing is what Baha’ism and most cults do. You’re taking a selected passage out of context and saying, “Look, this is figurative.” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” [John 6:51] Was He a loaf of bread?
Mock: Of course not.
Martin: He said, “I am the true vine.” [John 15:1] Was He a vegetable?
Mock: But where do you discern that…
Martin: Now wait a minute. Was He?
Mock: Of course not.
Martin: I don’t think the Muslims or the Zoroastrians or the Jewish people would define it that way. I think you are sort of self-centering the idea of a cult. I think the important point is the religion: God sent His Son to save mankind, to save the individual.
Martin: Who is that Son?
Mock: Jesus Christ.
Martin: Not Baha’u’llah?
Mock: Baha’u’llah is the return…
Radpour: The Christ. Baha’u’llah is the Christ.
Martin: I want to get the facts right now. You keep saying the Son of God, and in your vocabulary that is Baha’u’llah.”
Mock: You’re still missing the point. We do not disagree.
Martin: I’m on the point. I want you to confirm it.
Mock: Well, let me state this again to see if you understand it. We believe that there is no difference between Jesus Christ and Baha’u’llah.
Martin: Okay.
Mock: Accept that. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Martin: I understand perfectly.
Mock: Okay, so if I’m saying that, that means that we believe in Christ and His return.
Martin: But it hinges on whether or not Baha’u’llah fulfills the biblical criterion. He doesn’t fulfill it, because Jesus said when He came back again you would be able to identify Him. Baha’u’llah simply proclaims it. There’s no identification. Jesus Christ…
Radpour: His identity is the same. If you go outside on Monday and then you go outside on Tuesday, will you say that the sun that rose Monday is a different sun than the sun that rose Tuesday because it has a different name? It doesn’t. It’s the same sun. It appears at a different point on the horizon, and that is the Baha’i lesson.
Martin: But you have a fundamental disagreement with the Lord Jesus at this point. He said that He came into the world to save sinners. [1 Tim. 1:15] He said He came into the world to redeem us from our sins, once for all. [Heb. 7:26] He appears at the fullness of time, at the end of time, to redeem mankind. [Gal. 4:4-5] Now, you are saying that Baha’u’llah is indeed this Jesus who died previously…
Radpour: No. We’re not saying that it is the same physical Jesus of Nazareth born….
Mock: Spirit. The spirit is the same.
Radpour: We’re saying that the Christ’s spirit which was reflected perfectly in the Christ is the same spirit which is manifested in Baha’u’llah.
Martin: In Zoroaster, too?
Radpour: In Zoroaster, too. Baha’is, explain, for instance, the concept of the Trinity in this way. We say that God is like the sun. Of course, it’s not an analogy, because God is not the sun, but God is like the sun. The manifestations of God are like mirrors. When you hold them up and the sun is reflected in them, you say there is the sun. You’re absolutely right. That is the sun. And that’s the same spirit of which we speak.
Ankerberg: We agree with you up to a point, except we’re saying that God was in Christ, period; that He wasn’t a reflection like a mirror but you’re seeing God in flesh.
Martin: But let’s get to Zoroaster. That’s very important, John.
Mock: I’ve got to ask John a question. First of all, a comment is that I think we’re going off into things that aren’t the key points of religion. I’m trying to get back to the point of salvation, human spiritual development and eternal life. We’re talking about other things that I think are irrelevant in this discussion.
Ankerberg: Okay, Jim, let’s put it in its proper perspective. I think the reason why we’re talking about it is if we’re going to put our eternal destiny into the hands Baha’u’llah, if we’re going to put our fate into his hands, we have to know what we’re getting into. I know that Jesus died, rose again, and He’s living right now, and that’s pretty solid proof. I know that the prophet is dead, and I don’t see why I should switch allegiance at that point.
Mock: See, you’re still not making that connection of the sameness. You don’t see Jesus walking around here. You know He’s alive in the spirit. Baha’u’llah is the same.
Martin: No, He’s alive in His body, which Baha’ism denies. That’s the whole point. Christianity, you know as full well as you’re sitting in that chair, that Christianity from your Baptist background teaches that when Jesus Christ came out of the grave, He came out in the same form that hung on the cross. He presented His body to His disciples: “put your finger into my hand, your hand into my side. Don’t be without faith, believe.” [John 20:27] Now, that is the historic Jesus Christ. That is not Baha’u’llah. You are denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Ankerberg: Alright, let’s summarize what we’ve heard today. Wasn’t Jesus Christ just one of many wonderful messengers God sent to the world like Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius, Muhammad and Baha’u’llah? The answer is no. Jesus said He was God. None of these other religious leaders ever claimed that. The Bible teaches that Jesus will not change or be replaced in the future. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Jesus warned us about those who would try to take His place. He told us not to be deceived, not to follow or believe in anyone else but Him. Jesus said: “For many will come in my name saying, ‘I am the Christ’ and will mislead many”; [Matt. 24:5] “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’ or ‘There he is,’ do not believe him; for false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance.” [Matt. 24:23-25] Jesus Christ and His salvation are still the only way to God today and in the future.

The Scripture tells us, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12]

We are also told someday Jesus is coming back to earth as Savior and Judge. The Bible says, “So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time… to those who eagerly await for Him for salvation.” [Heb. 9:28]

Jesus Himself taught, “But when the Son of man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate them from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats…. And some will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” [Matt. 25:31-32, 46]

The Jesus who is coming back will be the same Jesus who walked and talked with the apostles. The angels told the apostles when Jesus ascended into Heaven: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven.” [Acts 1:1]

The Bible says, “Behold, he is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.” [Rev. 1:7] So we are not to be confused, we are not to be deceived or mislead.

Have you believed in Jesus? Jesus gave us all the proof anyone should need to show us that He is God and that we should believe on Him to receive acceptance and forgiveness before God. Jesus lived a perfect life. He fulfilled the messianic prophecies. He arose from the dead after He was crucified. The gospel He gave to be preached in His authority was: all men are sinners and have broken God’s moral laws; therefore, they stand condemned before God and separated from Him in relationship. Jesus as both God and man is our Mediator who can bring us to God. The ground or basis for our forgiveness is the fact of His death on the cross on our behalf, that is, our sins were picked up and placed on Him. He took the punishment we deserve and paid the price God required that we could never pay.

That which Christ did stands ready to be appropriated as a gift to you or to anyone who will come to Jesus, admit they are sinners, ask Him to come into their life and tell Him that from this moment on, by faith, they accept Jesus’ gift of forgiveness. That is, you will trust that what Jesus did in paying for your sins is all that ever needs to be done before God and is appropriated to you the moment you believe. He promises to forgive you completely, to cleanse you and enter your life.

The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works that anyone should boast.” [Eph. 2:8-9]

Would you pray to Jesus right now? Tell Him you’re putting all of your trust and hope in what He has done to make you a Christian and ask Him to forgive you of all your sins. And that is enough. The Bible says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” [Acts 2:21]

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