Monday, November 23, 2009

A Plea to Stop Visiting Temples/Mosques, Part 3: Answering Five Final Objections

Greetings, everyone and sorry for the delay but a lot has been happening. As promised, here are the second five actual and anticipated objections to my concerns about Temple/Mosque visit tours currently being conducted by some in our fellowship. This is also the last article about this phenomenon unless further developments occur. I am praying that many will heed these concerns and that we could relegate this hazardous practice to the past. Here they be…

Objection 6: “But my temple visit was so powerful, so moving, so out of the box. Now I pray fervently for these people like never before. I really learned about their lostness and saw it first hand.”

This may be a genuine response but re-think this for a moment. Was there any other way to be so burdened? The answer must be yes because most missionaries and intercessors for Hindus and Muslims didn’t receive this burden from going to a temple or a mosque Many receive it in prayer or a classroom or a moving sermon…or a trip to India. Just get off the plane here and you will immediately see all you need to know about Hinduism and the religions of India without ever setting foot in any temple. You will know what it is like to be vexed within when you see life here (as was Paul in Athens, Acts 17).My point is that while you may be forever changed by this experience rethink through and make sure your shoe removal or hijab donning might not have been the best and certainly not the only way to be moved for these dear folks.

Objection 7: “But the church needs this practice in order to wake up.”

The church needs to be biblical and honoring to the true God and there are other ways for this to happen.

Objection 8: “Steve, is your objection to these temple tours based on a belief in the sacred\secular distinction?”

Partially, yes. I know that this argument has been less than accepted by many lately due to the onset of more and more postmodern thinking but consider the truth that God definitely deemed certain things “holy” and other things “profane”. Pagan practices were actually and remain “abominations” before a holy God. There are other activities that fall into the categories of being foolish and unwise. Either way you slice it, these visits may involve some measure of willful/unwillful, knowing/unknowing participation in sinful practices. I definitely believe this involves that but let each one be convinced by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit what they do and say. As for my counsel, don’t even risk the danger of being on the wrong side of this issue.

Objection 9: “What then, do you suggest, is the best way to go about witnessing to Hindus and Muslims?”

Share a bold and loving testimony with Hindus in the parking lot of their temple or street witness to them. Make friends with your local restaurant owners, waiters, gas station attendants and grocery store owners, and businessmen who are from these locales. I have had great conversations with Indians at home and abroad and a powerful testimony to them is a kind explanation to them as to why you cannot go into their places of worship. What an open door to share about the holiness of the true God and His Son, Jesus Christ. In India I refuse to enter temples or even say the customary greeting “Namaste” because of its spiritual implications (“Namaste” literally means “My spiritual atman (“god-self”) bows in reverence to your spiritual atman.”). Although it is a customary greeting we have an open door of opportunity for why we give a hearty hug or handshake instead.

Objection 10: “Steve, aren’t you just being an ill-informed, reactionary , preachy, etc…?”

This last reaction is an imagined one as everyone with whom I’m spoken with on this matter has been courteous and respectful but trust me, the answer may very well be “Yes”. I could be totally wrong with my concerns but I don’t believe so. I have seen and done many things in the nation of India since 1999 and even married into it with my beloved wife Supriya, who hails from Maharashtra, India. We are united in our concerns that, at the very least, these temple/mosque visits are not the best way to go about evangelizing Hindus and Muslims and may even be dangerous in terms of participating in a practice that compromises the Christian faith and sends a wrongful message to Indian believers and non believers alike. Of course these concerns apply to all religious backgrounds involved in these visits.

So, in conclusion, these are my thoughts about temple visits. My advice: “Don’t do it!” and really think about why it isn’t a good idea. This is a “for-the-record” series of blog posts and I encourage you to be vividly biblical on this and whatever proposals and practices come down the pike, even from respected persons in our own fellowship of churches.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, and thank you so much to those who have already responded.

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