Monday, November 9, 2009

A Plea to Stop Visiting Temples/Mosques, Part 2: Answering Five Objections

A Plea to Stop Visiting Temples/Mosques, Pt. 2: Answering Five Objections

I have dialogued at length about this issue with some in the FGBC including one of the main leaders of these temple trips. We have had fervent exchanges and good discussion but my concerns have been dismissed as reactionary and not based in any kind of real justifiable vantage point. These activities will continue unless others begin to speak out I am sure but I feel it necessary to answer a few counterpoints that have been raised to my concerns. Most of these were actually raised and some are anticipated but there are more than what I answer here. Let these “Top 10” suffice with this part being the first five. I feature the objection followed by my response. I let you the reader decide what is valid and worthy of your time and attention here.

Objection 1: “This is an example of what Paul did by “being all things to all men” and reminiscent of his visit to the Areopagus in Acts 17”.

Paul visited synagogues and was taken to Mars Hill where he clearly preached the gospel to those who were there. He even told the Areopagites of God’s requirement that all men everywhere needed to repent ( Acts 17:30). Everywhere Paul went he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ which directly opposed the false worship that was going on in these places. Participants in these temple visits, to my knowledge, are going to “learn about the Hindu or Muslim faith” and in the initial ventures from Momentum 2007, they were told specifically not to witness but to be observers only which is not the same intent Paul had for being found in those places. Paul also did not capitulate or compromise by participating in any form of pagan practice in order to gain entry to these places. Shoe removal and hijabs are a form of participation or at least send a message of mutual acknowledgment to some validity of the “faiths” being learned from.

Objection 2: “This practice is a “fast-track” that is worth weeks of classroom lectures to help people “see the soil” of the lost world and “get a heart” for those enslaved to foolish false religion.”

This sounds noble and pragmatically practical. How could anyone argue with the impact something like a temple visit has on Christians who see this, especially for the first time? My response is this: Is there any other way someone can receive a burden to pray for and evangelize Hindus and Muslims other than actually having to go visit their temples? YES. Is this temple/mosque visitation the only way someone can really “get a heart” for these lost souls? NO. There are other better safer ways for this to happen that don’t involve any sort of compromise or reverence to a false faith. Yes, one can learn about tenets of these religions in a classroom and it can be a tool that God uses to impart holy concern for these folks. A personal visit is an “in your face” activity but not necessarily the best one and I would caution even becoming too familiar with foreign religions in any case. You don’t have to actually do what they do. You don’t have to be familiar with the tenets of Hinduism or Islam to pray for and witness to people in those religions. Here’s the best way to get a heart for Hindus and Muslims: Pray this way: “Father, please give me a burden for those lost and on their way to hell who are trapped in any form of false worship.” Watch what He’ll do. I became a missionary to India because of praying like that, not visiting pagan temples. God can impart His burden for Hindus, Muslims, Jains, and Sikhs without these visits.

Objection 3: “Steve, there is no such thing as an actual pagan place or anywhere that’s forbidden ground for a Christian to go in. The geography of what is found inside or outside the temple belongs to the Lord and we need not be afraid of “evil places’ or temple grounds.”

While this is technically correct, the practice of removing our shoes or donning a hijab or any custom we have to do to enter these places sends the message to these adherents that we do indeed consider their temple or mosque “sacred space”. We are showing respect for what they do there which is worship a false god or goddess who is really a demonic spirit. Why would we do this? God does not have mutual respect for any other “faith” and doesn’t want His people displaying any form of veneration or acknowledgment to any other false beliefs. Israel was told “all the gods of the nations are idols”( Ps. 96:5) and they were not to do anything that smacked of or was actual pagan practice. we are to be separate from these things and I assure you this sends a greater testimony to those dear folks that any mutual acknowledgment of their “faith”.

Objection 4: “We need to extend the right to all people to worship as they please.”

Yes we do but we shouldn’t do anything that compromises or encourages what they are doing by acknowledging their practices as sacred or valid in any way.

Objection 5: “This practice of temple/mosque visitation was first suggested by an Indian believer.”

This may be true but there are a lot of unbiblical and unwise things suggested by leaders of any background. There are many more Indian believers who would object to what’s going on with these visits if made aware of this practice. Just because the idea is Indian in origin means nothing and a lot of what has been suggested and implemented in the name of contextualization and evangelism is unbiblical and borders on erroneous activity that is actually syncretistic in practice. There is no real weight to this argument.

There’s five objections to my objection to the practice of temple/mosque visitation. I leave them for your consideration and ask you to stay tuned for the conclusion of this series of posts where I will present five final objections and my responses.

Read and share as the Lord leads.


Benny Van Huss said...

AMEN Steve
In a recent study of the book of Hosea I begin to realize that the Church has become like Israel, we are committing spiritual adultery with other gods (Hoses 6:10). No longer do we seek help from Him but seek comfort and trust in methods, modern theory, intellectual thinking, and tolerance (be careful here) of other religions. Do you think that God has something to say about this; you bet He does. Is He a jealous God that requires for us to depend on Him and Him alone? You bet He does. We are not to turn to any other gods or religious practices and say that they are okay they’re just wrong and then have a debate on whether Christianity is the best? The debate is really not a debate. The answer is a call for us to repentance, to humble ourselves and seek His face.
Do you wonder where God has gone? (Hosea 5:16) What is it that we have done to cause God to go away from us?
If we begin to seek the knowledge and tolerance of other religions or other gods we are committing spiritual adultery. Don’t believe me; search the scriptures for the answers. If you disagree with me, you just haven’t read the Old Testament and used it for any application.
The following is an excerpt from the lesson material, most of it isn’t mine but it is what I used in the Sunday School lessons.
“The people are playing politics in the worst way, making promises and joining in alliances to which they have no intention of remaining faithful to God.
The image of a half-baked cake (Hosea 7:8).
When it comes to our relationship with the Lord, we must be thorough and not “half-baked.” His gracious work must permeate our whole being so that heart, mind, and strength are all devoted to Him. Compromise with the world leads to unbalanced conduct and immature character.
The picture is that of a pancake burned to cinders on one side and doughy on the other. Because the baker fell asleep, the cake is worthless. Nobody wants to eat either ashes or raw dough. The overdone side does not atone for the underdone side. What can be done with “a cake not turned”? It can only be tossed away. It is too late for the baker to do anything to make the cake edible.
Instead, they mixed themselves among the people and adopted their ways. They had much religious activity, but no religious reality. The figure of the cake not turned is most appropriate. As far as religious activity is concerned, they are overdone. But so far as their attitude and reality towards God is concerned, they are raw. They blew hot and cold toward God.
Basically, Israel identity is no longer determined by their relationship with God. It is now determined by their socializing and politicizing with foreign nations and foreign gods.”
Continuing the theme of compromise, Hosea pictures Israel as a man getting gray and not knowing it (vv. 9-10). By mixing with the nations and ignoring the Lord, the nation was secretly losing her strength, like someone getting older and weaker but in her pride refusing to admit it. This is the tragedy of undetected losses that quietly lead to ultimate failures. Samson made this mistake (Judg. 16:20) and so did the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:17). Israel saw her political strategy failing, but the leaders still refused to turn to the Lord. “The pride of Israel” (Hosea 7:10; see 5:5) refers to Israel’s national glory which had greatly eroded since the days of David and Solomon. Selfish politicians and corrupt priests had brought the nation to ruin. And of course the people blindly followed.
The Church has lost its way!!!

Anonymous said...

"Never make a principle out of your own experience. Let God be as original with others as he is with you." Oswald Chambers

Book Recommendation: The Case for Civility by Os Guiness.

Benny Van Huss said...

Was that not a principle out of God's Word.

Steve said...

Thanks Benny for an insightful comment, i think it is spot-on and it is obvious that we need to pray for our fellowship big time as well as any Christian who would think this is a good idea.

danny2 said...

sorry for publicly posting this. (feel free to delete it and email me back an answer steve. my email can be found by following my profile. however, there is not email address on your profile, and something has happened to your link when you click "my web page" in the top left corner).


please tell me you requested (for some reason) to have your blog removed from the fgbc blogs site or that this is just a current glitch for their program.

if not, i'm doubly sad:

a) sad that this practice (temple visits) occurs

b) more saddened that open discussion doesn't seem permitted.

i'm hoping i'm reading more into your blog no longer being listed than is necessary.

Zach Doppelt said...


Interesting posts. Do you feel from your perspective that there is a disconnect in understanding what is considered part of hindu worship (shoe removal) and what is not. Do you feel that if folks understood hinduism better they would understand more fully what is appropriate for a christian engaging this religion to do and what is not appropriate? Also, what bearing do you think 1 Cor. 10 has (pagan temple sacrifices) on the subject?