In response to my column last week celebrating a former Muslim woman’s conversion to Christianity, one comment on The News Virginian’s Facebook page said I shouldn’t “wonder why people feel ‘Christians’ like yourself are judgmental people who feel they’re better than everyone else.”
I’ve thought about that for a few days, trying to understand the logic behind this question and have decided I’d like to address it.
First, I can’t help but notice the quotation marks around the word Christian. It seems like the implication is that a person like myself who holds the view that a Muslim, or any non-Christian, needs to be saved cannot truly be a Christian.
I would point out that, by definition, a Christian is a person who acts like Christ and holds to his teachings. Many of the things Jesus taught could be used to clear up why any Christian should believe any non-Christian needs to be born again, converted, saved or whatever term you prefer to use, but the one I think of most often is found in John 14.
Jesus has just told his disciples that he would soon be going to prepare a place for them in the afterlife. Understandably, the disciples asked for some clarity.
“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:5-6).
Jesus taught that being born again is necessary for eternal life (John 3) and that only he (Jesus) has the power to bring a person who is dead to life (John 11). He taught that any attempt to know God through any other means besides knowing himself is a lie and is empty (John 10). I guess what I’m saying is that, whether you agree with it or not, the conviction that only followers of Christ will be in heaven is a basic, traditional Christian doctrine. Placing quotations around Christian in this case is not necessary.
The second thing I’d like to address, though briefly, is the use of that word “judgmental,” as if being judgmental is always a negative.
If I “judge you” in order to make myself look better or to bring shame on you or by using unfair criteria, I am wrong. That seems to be what most people think when they use that word.
In reality, however, to judge simply means to form an opinion or make a conclusion about someone or something. We all do that every day about all kinds of things. In this case, the judgment I am making is to conclude, after looking at much evidence, that Jesus is indeed the only way to God and that, therefore, all people need Jesus. I am “judgmental” only in the same sense that we all are, believing that I have found truth about a particular important issue.
The third thing that I’d like to address is the notion that Christians, or “Christians,” feel they are better than everyone else. That kind of thinking would be completely in opposition to what Jesus actually taught — no Christian should ever feel he or she is better than anyone else. In fact, the Bible says the only good in us at all is Christ and the only thing about us worth boasting is him.
No, I don’t think that I am “better” than anyone, but I do feel I am right. Does that make me arrogant or proud? If so, then everyone reading this is arrogant and proud as well, for all of us believe the convictions we hold are right —otherwise, we would hold different convictions! A committed Muslim believes that he is right, and that I am wrong. So does a Jewish person or a Hindu or an atheist. Since when did telling someone that we are right, and that they are wrong, get equated with thinking we are in some way superior?
I don’t believe I am better. I believe we are all naturally wretched, we have all sinned against a holy God and we all need to be saved from our sinful wretchedness. Jesus said that he is the only way for that salvation, and we Christians appeal to Him, not because we are better at all, but because Jesus is!
This won’t satisfy many readers, and that’s OK. I wanted to share it anyway.