Into the Belly of the Beast...
“We can take your truth, and combine it with my truth, and then together we all have a new truth.” With these
contradictory words and thoughts, the 2018 Parliament of World Religions kicked off in Toronto this past November 1st! Seven of our Haven team along with five others from Chicago and from Canada were there to witness to the over 220 different religions and over 8,000 people from all over the world.
This is the fourth Parliament that I have attended. I can safely say that as far as my calling as a missionary - these events have been the most challenging and exciting. Many of you have read our newsletter and seen some of the people that we have encountered and shared the Gospel with. On the surface, it would seem the challenge of the Parliament is that there are so many religions that the prospect of knowing and understanding enough to talk intelligently to the attendees is daunting. Part of the time is spent just learning by talking, listening to and reading materials from the multiple types of folks there. I learn every time I go. Sometimes the religions go through major shifts from the last encounter and sometimes I hear things that I didn’t know before. Another part of the challenge is the variation of the people. Some are very nice, some are very defensive and even get angry. The language gap and the strongly accented English can at times be hard to get through. Ultimately, the great news is that we are occupied doing God’s business! The Scriptures tell us that some plant, some water, but the LORD and the LORD only brings the harvest (1st Cor 3:7!) So, despite the hurdles, we managed to witness to Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, Roman Catholics, Hindus, Bahai, Urantian readers and other New Agers, Wiccans, Goddess worshippers, Pagans, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Jews, atheists (yes, they had a booth!), Scientologists, Soka Gakkai, and many others.
Compounding the excitement was that they were there from every continent on the planet. It is thrilling to consider the possibilities in the LORD’s sovereignty as some get saved and go back as missionaries to their own people and regions. Please pray that the LORD opens that door over and over again.
The main theme of the Parliament since in restarted in 1993 is that of religious pluralism. I would argue that even in the face of hundreds of different religions, there is really only one “religion” or concept that is the major belief of virtually all the participants at the Parliament. This “religion” has several major beliefs or doctrines. Chief among these is that all religions at their heart believe in the same God. There may be several varieties due to culture and language differences, but we are all the same. This can be illustrated by an old Hindu parable: five blind men surround an elephant and each touch a different part of the elephant. One touches the trunk, one the tail, one the tusk and so on. All describe something different, but none are aware, except the narrator, that they are all touching the exact same thing. This story has been repeated over and over, from religious studies departments to Oprah - so it must be true! The story itself is dishonest - the moral of the story is that all religions really are the same at their core, and the problem is that the religions, being blind, do not see that. The dishonesty comes from within. Someone in the story is not blind!!! The narrator alone sees the big picture that is unavailable to the blind men. So where does the narrator gain this view? How do they see the “true” picture of how things really are? If someone is not blind, then it is logically possible that others aren’t blind as well. But that of course defeats the point of the parable. The parable is bleated out by the sheep as if it really is the way things are. I start every comparative religion class I teach by giving the class the parable. Many of the students love it and believe it. I then show the problems and so the class goes.
What makes it worse is that even a brief survey of the religions shows the problem with religious pluralism - it is not even close to true. You can literally take a single issue such as “Who is God?” and do a quick survey and show how false the parable is. For example, Theravada Buddhists deny the existence of a god. Islam teaches there is one utterly transcendent Creator, while Hindus deny a creator and teach that there is either one god, (Brahma who has no attributes) or polytheism (330 million gods and counting,) or pantheism (god is literally everything!) It is logically possible that any one of these views is correct or some of the other hundreds of views encapsulated at the Parliament might be the truth. What is not possible is that they are teaching the same thing. I can show this with many other question’s as well. It’s not even hard to do, so you know when you hear scholars supporting this kind of pluralism then something else is happening.
I can show this with many other question’s as well. It’s not even hard to do, so you know when you hear scholars supporting this kind of pluralism then something else is happening.
The irony that has shown its face a few times is that while the leadership all talk oneness and we are the world kind of stuff, many of the people I have talked to (especially the Muslims!) are still convinced of the truth of their own religion.
The Bahai think the whole parliament is based upon their faith, and most all the religions think the Christian claim is evil and hateful. The last two parliaments have had sessions between “evangelicals” and other religions. We attended both and the people representing “evangelicals” were all very deeply committed liberals who directly affirmed the pluralism that is under discussion.
What is denied in common by all the religions I have talked to is that there is one God, who had such love and mercy for His creation that He sent Jesus to die for our sins, then raised Jesus from the dead to show God’s power as well. And that the only true path to the LORD is to believe in Jesus.
Could it be the case that we are really blind, but the LORD loves us too much to leave us in our clueless state, and sent Jesus to fix the perpetual blindness that our sin and rebellion have put us in. Why would God hate us so much not to let us know who He is and what He wants? The story becomes cruel at that point. Thankfully in Hebrews 1:1-3 it says, “Long ago, at
many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power...”
There is a pluralism that is factual - there are in fact thousands of different religions. The idea that they all teach different versions of the same thing is a patently false claim with no evidence. The fact that they give lip service to saying all religions are true, is belied by the fact that they constantly complain about the “exclusivism” of those mean Christians! The more you talk to the real versions of all the religions (those who actually believe what they say they believe) the more realize that pluralism is a rival faith against all others. All religions think what they are believing is true. If all are true, then why is the Christian belief false and or mean spirited and arrogant? You can’t have it both ways! Welcome to the Parliament!!! Please pray for all those we talked to. The LORD did some amazing things there!
Dec 1 st – HAVEN CHRISTMAS PARTY – If you are in the area, please feel free to come by!
Jan 21 st – Haven Board Meeting
Jan 8 – May 17 – Teaching Ethics and Intro to Philosophy at CECP
Jan 22 nd – Home Bible Study resumes – The Gospel of John
Mar 16 – Body Mind Spirit Expo Denver
Mar 18 – 24 – Mission trip to Tampa – Scientology headquarters and other fun things!
May 24 – 26 – Mission trip to Kansas City – Mormon Center for the planet – Perhaps Hare Krishna’s and IHOP time as well.
As always, there will be more events Place added on. Check our website at havenministry.com for new additions!
1) We continue to thank the Lord for His goodness. The Doctors have put Terri on a gluten free, dairy free and perhaps ultimately sugar free diet to help her with the Hashimoto’s disease and inflammation. She is not liking the changes!!! Terri is still struggling and now needs shots for both her knees – no fun but trying to push off more surgery. Scott, Savanna, Conrad and Carmina are doing awesome. She is growing and growing! Shawn, Kelly, Tegan, and Apple are doing well. Shawn is well loved at his job. They are not near the current fire tragedy but with the winds in California you never know! Andy really enjoyed his time going to the Husker game. He is struggling with some things we haven’t seen for many years so please pray lots! Gabe, Shaina and Kaylee are doing well and Gabe is enjoying his job as a fireman coming off probation soon! They seemed to enjoy their new church. Joey is doing pretty well and is looking to go to film school in the fall. Johanna and Kenny Leak got MARRIED! The kids love him, and he is a good man. We are very happy for them!
Rose, Austin, CeCe and Bella are doing well, still looking for a house – only now it needs to be bigger as they are expecting! We are thrilled for them. Jon is
not doing well. He was arrested for a more serious charge and faces possible prison time. He told the jail that he has no family. We are working with a chaplain there to reach out to him. My Dad is now talking to me each week and my mom just moved to Henderson, Nevada so things are better there. The club in Thousand Oaks that was shot up recently was very close to where my brother lived for many years. My niece and nephew have been in there many times – please pray for the survivors and all the families. The fires out there are now close to some of my family in Simi Valley – pray for these hard times.
2) Please pray for some friends and co-workers who have serious health issues. Pray for many who have pressing chronic issues such as Sherri C, Rose R, Liz H, Sheila H, Joanna V, Charlene E, Jason G, Zach M, Duane E, Noah G, Tracie P, Pepper W, Susan L, and others. Pray for dear friends and mentors Jim and Ossie who have had a terrible struggle with their adult daughter and her extreme health problems. Pray our Father shows mercy! Pray for the daughter of a pastor/friend of ours. Her name is Amber, and she is still struggling with a terrible stroke! There are many others of you who are in this audience who have major health issues. We pray our Father shows mercy in all these things. Pray for our dearest friend Susan who has some frustrating health conditions and
lost her husband this past year!
3) Pray for the miracle of repentance and reconciliation in the marriages or now ex-marriages of Debra, Mike, Cheryl, Leon, Susan, Janelle, and way too many others.
4) Pray for the salvation of the Scientologists, Muslims, Gnostics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Buddhists, and many others that we have talked to. Please pray for all the people that we have witnessed to over the years, whom can be referenced in the past Haven Newsletters. Please pray for Michael and Miguel, both of whom are Urantia readers. Continue to pray for my atheist student Ben who is meeting again with me soon! Some really good things going on there, I think. We met with the family of Brendan - the Mormon missionary who had come to our house several times. We had a good talk with them and find a good balance between trying to get them to see the issues with Joseph Smith, and the reality that the family had just had a son commit suicide. It was a good talk and we anticipate meeting with them again next year. We also went to a local Mormon church for a concert with Brendan and several of his missionary friends. So, Terri and I were there with several hundred Mormons and a lot of missionaries - many of them had been to our house over the past two years. Lots of good talks. Terri and I had good talks with three different kinds of Mormon in Independence recently. One of them Ken had been raised a Christian and just moved to Chile where he is going to a Christian church again, so please pray the leaders will disciple him well. We are
continuing to talk to him as well. Pray for Jewish New Ager Ron whom I had a great talk with recently. Pray for all the folks!
5) Pray for the Haven staff. Pray for their support raising efforts. Pray for their ministry and for all of us as we go to different events. Pray for the Lord’s grace and mercy to mark everything we do. The staff continues to grow with new associates and interns. Pray especially for one of our staff - Rose – who has some difficult health concerns. Pray for her husband Mark and all the family please. The staff is up to 21 with new staff and another new intern! So we thank the Lord for the fellow workers and we all thank you for your prayers! Again pray for Terri and Bills personal support which is way down right now.
6) Please pray for our many friends and their children who are serving with our military. The reality of militant Islam is that we are now in what many think is another chapter of a very old war. This sadly is getting much worse lately. Hardly a day goes by without Muslims killing innocents somewhere in the world. Pray for soldiers like Miguel, Matt, Josh, Nick. Heath and Will. Pray for the Marines like our nephew Eddie and Matt. We thank the Lord for all of them and so many others who serve us. Pray for soldiers like Chung as well as military folks serving as 1st responders such as Donavan and Gabe!
We thank the Lord for the gracious giving that He has given us through so many of you. We thank y’all for your continued prayers and support.
Please continue to pray and seek the Lord’s will concerning giving to the ministry of Haven. We are currently in the red and need more support to pay our salary and the bills and end the year in the black. Please pray and consider helping us at this time.
Please pray for all the people that Terri and I talked to at the Parliament!
Linda– Lesbian Soka Gakkai Buddhist
Arianna – Pagan lady
Bala and Roy – Hindu’s from South Africa
Buck and Arlene – Urantia readers (New agers)
Ed – Bahai author/”scholar”
Eurah – Korean LDS lady
Jue and Miao – Humanistic Buddhists from Hong Kong
Michael and Nancy – Interfaith chaplains
Mit and Gay – Bahai
Mohammed and Nana – Sunni Muslims from India and Indonesia respectively
Natalie - lapsed Roman Catholic Canadian
Nathan – Gay Buddhist
Randall – world religions writer from Canada
Ron and Maureen and Elisa – Share International (new age group)
Non-Prophet Update – so many heretics – so little time...
Once again, in the middle of so many competitors, one group has stepped up their game and become a heretic among heretics. This time it is the World Mission Society Church of God. A very aggressive Korean cult that teaches that Jesus came back (literally) in the person of a Korean 7 th Day Adventist pastor who died around 1984. Not to worry, his wife – “Mother God” has been here to right all wrongs and lead the faithful. They falsely predicted the end of the world a few years ago but that didn’t quite work out.
Now they are proclaiming that Jesus has come even one more time in an individual who was here in Denver not long ago. Sorry I missed that...But there is also a Russian Jesus and a Filipino Jesus and so many more that I can’t keep count! I am not sure how this can be topped but in our crazy and blasphemous world – I am sure many will try!
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