On Easter Sunday of 2011 I suddenly felt inspired write this blog post based on ideas floating around in my head for some time.
Generally speaking all Christian sects, whether they are Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs), traditional mainstream, fundamentalist, and evangelical Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Mormons or any other Christian sect, believe in a few basic things. First they believe that God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die on a cross (or stake in the case of JWs), so that this sacrifice would atone for the sins of man. Nearly all Christians seem to believe that God considers it important that humans believe in him, have faith in him, obey him, and live according to his will, and repent of their sins. All these varieties of Christianity believe this, and most also strongly advocate that people should belong to their particular church, believe in that church’s particular doctrine, and that people accept their particular church as God's true and exclusive representative organization on earth.1
So we might ask, if God is a perfect being, and he wills that people hold correct religious beliefs, practice correct religious rituals, and belong to the correct church that propagates those correct church teachings, why has he not communicated more clearly exactly which church is his true organizational representative? Exactly what religion is the sincere truth seeking Christian supposed to belong to?
The pastor of any of the above mentioned churches would surely answer that by reading the Bible, it is clear that the Bible and God clearly favors his church Most any JW, Mormon, Evangelical Christian, Catholic, or other Christian sect can offer support from some translation of the Bible that their Church holds the correct doctrine according to the Bible. Mormon’s may be slightly different in this regard as they believe that their organization has been blessed with a second book of God’s revealed truth, The Book of Mormon. Various churches of Evangelical and Protestant Christianity regard the doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and often the Catholic Church as false Christianity, frauds, that mislead people away from God’s true church. JWs also regard all the other Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox churches as false prophets that mislead people away from God’s true will, and insist that salvation is only found in their organization. The Catholic Church regards itself as Jesus’ and the apostle Paul’s original and true Christian Church, and regards all later Christian churches as apostates.
For the sincere truth seeking would-be Christian and potential church member who desires to make the right choice, this seems to be an intractable dilemma. This would be Christian can accept Jesus Christ as his personal savior, repent of his sins, practice the appropriate rituals, show love to his neighbor, live a moral life according to the strictures of the Bible and church he chooses to join, attempt to convert others, and study his Bible. And still he could make the wrong choice of churches hypothetically speaking.
I can imagine that it could be quite perplexing in attempting to choose the correct church by reading the Bible and attempting to match sacred scripture with the appropriate church doctrine. Might the truth seeking Christian see strong points in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ interpretation of the Bible on one question, while seeing other strong points in the Baptist’s interpretation of the Bible on another question? Or worse, might the truth-seeker find compelling reasons to agree with two different interpretations of the Bible regarding the same question? To resolve these problems the recruiting Christian witness will undoubtedly implore the truth seeker to open his heart to the Holy Spirit in prayer asking for guidance in choosing with which church to affiliate with; confident of course that the aforementioned Holy Spirit will guide the truth seeker to his church.
If the Holy Spirit doesn’t lead the truth seeker to the recruiter’s church, but chooses another, then from the recruiter’s perspective the truth-seeker must have made some error, not the Holy Spirit. Nor do I think it happens very often that the Christian recruiter entertains the possibility that he might have chosen the wrong church. Regardless, it seems that if any of the Christian religions are true, then somebody is going to hell, despite their best efforts to be a good Christian in what they think is God’s chosen church.2
So it seems that there is a strong possibility that this want-to-be sincere Christian can make the wrong choice. Even after Bible study, prayer, and opening oneself up to the Holy Spirit. According to the doctrine of most of the religious organizations I mention above, being in the right church, THEIRS, is part of being the right kind of Christian and gaining that reward of afterlife in heaven (or on earth, as JWs believe). Christian sects basically compete for market share for the available souls in need of saving. To do this they must persuade Christian believers that they must be a Baptist, or a Pentecostal, or a Catholic, and not another sect, if they hope to acquire the after-life reward in heaven, or be resurrected, or live forever in some fashion.
So we must ask ourselves a few questions. If the Christian God is real and demands that we believe the correct religious doctrines and belong to the right Christian church, why then has he not communicated much more clearly to his disciples regarding his desires and correct doctrines? All of them at least share some common interpretations of the Bible, yet their divergent interpretations they regard as serious enough to split into a number of different religious organizations. Shouldn’t a perfect God communicate much more clearly as to what his specific will is? Given this, it seems nearly certain that the Bible is not the inspired word of a real God, or that any version of Christianity is true.
1--There are some more liberal Protestant Churches who don’t necessarily insist on loyalty to their own church and are less dogmatic in this regard. Regardless, for the sake of this argument, let’s put them aside.
2—I should also note that JWs and some other liberal Christians do not believe in hell. JWs believe the unrepentant sinner simply dies without the reward of life ever after.