Your Religious Upbringing Doesn't Make Your Religion True or False

dan delzell opinion page

Parents in every religion raise children to accept their particular beliefs. And parents in every religion sincerely believe their family is on the right path. But since religions contradict each other, and no religion except Christianity presents Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, your religious upbringing doesn't make your religion true, or false.

Instead, what makes your religion true or false is its prophet and its message, rather than the beliefs of your parents.

If you were raised in a Christian home, that fact alone does not make your beliefs true. Either Jesus Christ is indeed who He claimed to be, or He isn't, regardless of whether you were raised as a Buddhist, Mormon, Muslim, atheist, Christian, or Jew.

There is objective truth and objective falsehood. There are true prophets and false prophets. And truth is ultimately defined by God, not by man. All man does is accept the truth or reject the truth. And those who reject the truth typically are not aware of their error until the moment after they die.

Some people have a difficult time grappling with the idea that there is such a thing as truth in the first place.

Robert Anton Wilson said, "I regard belief as a form of brain damage."

I wonder if he got that warped idea from his parents. Whether he did or not, it doesn't make his proposition true, or false. What makes it true or false is whether or not it presents the truth.

Mark Twain said, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."

Now that's sheer nonsense. Most people who hold a religious belief are convinced they are embracing the truth. Otherwise, they wouldn't believe it. And besides, can you accurately say that a person "believes" something which he knows to be false? How are you defining "belief" in that case? It's crazy talk. It's like saying, "Unbelief is not believing that which you know to be true." I have never known an "unbeliever" to profess such an absurd position, any more than Mark Twain knew people who "believed" in something they thought was false.

Here again, some people have a hard time wrapping their mind around the idea of "truth," especially in the realm of religion.

James Randi said, "No amount of belief makes something a fact."

Now that's a true statement. Your beliefs, just like the beliefs of your parents, do not make your religion true. A religion is true or false regardless of whether you believe it or not. It is true before you believe it, or it is false before you reject it. Your belief doesn't change the truthfulness of any religion. It either came from a true prophet or a false prophet. Truth is absolute, and truth originates with God.

Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Jesus was either lying, telling the truth, or out of His mind. Whether you trust Christ as your Savior or not won't change the truthfulness of His claim. The fact that it is true is not dependent upon your personal belief. You can accept Christ as your Savior, or you can reject Him. But truth is truth, regardless of who believes it.

"To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" (John 8:32)

Jesus didn't tell them that their beliefs or their behavior would make their religion true. Instead, He told them they would "know the truth" and that it would set them free.

You see, that's what truth does. It sets people free. And once free through faith in Christ, your sins are forgiven and heaven becomes your eternal home.

Your "believing it" and even "knowing it" doesn't make it true. It was already true, even before you were born. But once you are born again, (John 3:7) you enter a spiritual realm where you understand things you didn't understand before your conversion. There will still obviously be gaps in your thinking, but at least you see the big picture. All you had before your conversion was human reason, whereas believers have what I call "sanctified reason." You come to accept the fact that Jesus speaks only what is true.

How do Christians come to believe the good news and know Christ as Savior? Well, many parents lead their children to Christ. Others learn about the Lord later in life from someone outside their family. But either way, Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies which pointed to the coming Messiah. And Christ provides the only path to paradise.

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." (John 10:7-10)

Whether your parents believed Christ's words or not, His doctrine was absolutely true. Whether you were brought up in Buddhism, Mormonism, Islam, atheism, Christianity, or Judaism, the message of Christ is the truth. Your upbringing doesn't add to the truth, or take away from it. And the sincerity of your parents does not make your parent's faith true. Religions contradict each other, and no religion except Christianity presents Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world and the good shepherd of God's sheep.

And so always remember: Your religious upbringing doesn't make your religion true, or false. It just happens to be the way you were raised.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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