I am from India and I love my country and our people. You say
in your website that, "The universal saving Light is extended to
all people, everywhere, and at all times. The Light can bring
salvation even if the Scriptures are absent. Outward knowledge
of the historic Jesus is not a criteria for salvation by Him."
Does this mean people of other religions even if they do not know
Christ can attain salvation? What happens to the 85% of the
Indian population who are Hindus and who do not know Christ? Do
they have this Universal Saving Light?
A: Yes. God sees into the heart, and judges you based on whether you are faithful to what He requires, not on whether you possess correct doctrine or a knowledge of Christian history or scripture. Jesus never condemned anybody in the Gospels for unorthodox beliefs--only on whether they were being faithful to God in their lives. Having those other things is very helpful, but not required.
Everybody has access to the Light, in some measure, and the measure that they have is sufficient for them to work out their salvation with God. Many, many millions of the Hindus who do not know Christ by name do know something about Him in their lives. The Bhagavad Gita has scattered through it a great deal of truth about the relationship between God and people. There are a lot of confusing and unnecessary practices and beliefs there, but there is a clear kernel of truth.
Q: India being a country with so many religions, we were taught from a young age that all religions lead to the same God. They are just different paths leading to one light. I believed this with all my heart. Are you saying that this is correct?
A: No. The Kali devotees of the 19th century who practised thuggee were not following a religion that led to God. The human-sacrificing Native Americans were not following a religion that led to God. The Muslim suicide bombers who believe that killing themselves while destroying infidels will ensure their entry into Paradise are not following a religion that leads to God. Many, many other faiths have elements in them that are correct and lead in the direction of God, but most of them have confusing additions that are not true and distract the person from the true path to greater or lesser degrees. Christianity is the path God would prefer everybody to follow, and Quakerism is the simplest, cleanest way to achieve it.
Q: You have said that, "Those people of other religions who demonstrate the fruits of the spirit in their lives are doing it because of their faithfulness to Christ, whether they realize it or not." Are you saying that you can be born as a Hindu and still go to heaven as long as you do not practice Hinduism, even though you never knew Christ? So what is the point in being a Christian?
A: You can be born as anything and still go to heaven without knowing Christian history or having a Bible. This is because you do not need the history or the Bible to know Christ, who can teach His people Himself unaided. Is Jesus prevented from answering my prayers for a relationship with God and for salvation because I am locked in a jail cell without access to a Bible? No. Or because I was born in a country where converting to Christianity is illegal? No. Many people have heard about Christ but often the Christ that they hear about isn't the real one--just an expression of some human group's schismatic doctrine, where they have made Jesus small enough to fit tightly in their pockets, rather than accepting His offer to walk with Him and grow.
But once you understand the relationship, then becoming an outward Christian is the best thing you can do. And this is where the Bible, Christian history, and Christian community come in. The point of being a Christian is that once you know the name of your Guide, and how to learn more about Him, then you naturally want to use any means at your disposal to do that. And you want to do it within a community of fellow travelers who share in that knowledge and who can help you.
Q: You say that, "It is possible to follow the path laid out by Jesus Christ and do it successfully as a Hindu, but a number of fundamental Hindu beliefs and practices have to be set aside to do it well." So even if a Hindu bows down to his idols and eats the food sacrificed to his idols he is still can be a follower of Christ? Again, what is the point in being a Christian as defined by the Roman Catholic church or the Evangelical Protestant Church?
A: You can be a practicing Hindu and know Christ to some extent, but it isn't easy. The noise brought in by the Hindu practices and cultural history is very great. But a Hindu can be following Christ and place flowers in front of a statue of Vishnu in the same way that a Roman Catholic can follow Christ and light candles in front of a statue of Mary. Whether you know enough of Jesus to be acceptable to Him is His decision, not ours.
Neither the Roman Catholic Church nor a Protestant Evangelical Church defines what a Christian is--that right is retained by Jesus Christ. What these human institutions define is only who they themselves authorize as their own clergy and members. In my opinion, the Christians are in a better position than the Hindus, because we know who it is that we are worshipping. But, to those who have much, much will be expected. We have been given a greater knowledge as part of our measure of the light, and our responsibility is greater. That is the point of being a Christian. Part of that responsiblility is to help Hindus recognize the face of Jesus behind the clutter of their faith and practice, and to set aside those aspects of their religious life that do not lead toward Him.