"If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

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patrick
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"If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby patrick » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:37 pm

This is a line of thought I've often seen leveled against Christianity, and really every religion, but those others aren't key here. I have my own answers to this, but I'm really curious how others here view it -- for one thing, my conviction in God's existence doesn't extend to the personal God of Christianity per se (though I do find it to have the most lucid perspective on God I've seen).

So basically, if you look at the palette of religious belief across the globe, you'll find a strong correlation between the religion people are born into (that of their surrounding culture) and the religion they hold as a middle-aged adult, with little pattern in terms of conversion from one to another, or one religion standing out from another against this pattern. Here's a place where this argument is elaborated upon: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexami ... -pakistan/

The key point is that while this in no way proves a belief one way or another, it's a correlation that merits explanation. And the atheistic explanation is that religion is just an aspect of culture, just like language. So the question being asked is essentially, "if God exists, and Christianity is true, how come it seems that whether one becomes a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu is dependent almost entirely on the culture one is born into?"

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby Nessa » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:57 pm

patrick wrote:This is a line of thought I've often seen leveled against Christianity, and really every religion, but those others aren't key here. I have my own answers to this, but I'm really curious how others here view it -- for one thing, my conviction in God's existence doesn't extend to the personal God of Christianity per se (though I do find it to have the most lucid perspective on God I've seen).

So basically, if you look at the palette of religious belief across the globe, you'll find a strong correlation between the religion people are born into (that of their surrounding culture) and the religion they hold as a middle-aged adult, with little pattern in terms of conversion from one to another, or one religion standing out from another against this pattern. Here's a place where this argument is elaborated upon: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexami ... -pakistan/

The key point is that while this in no way proves a belief one way or another, it's a correlation that merits explanation. And the atheistic explanation is that religion is just an aspect of culture, just like language. So the question being asked is essentially, "if God exists, and Christianity is true, how come it seems that whether one becomes a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu is dependent almost entirely on the culture one is born into?"


New atheists love this kinda thing....

I have posted this vid before but I think it fits in so well with the topic..


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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby Philip » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:01 pm

Patrick: "if God exists, and Christianity is true, how come it seems that whether one becomes a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu is dependent almost entirely on the culture one is born into?"


God is not limited by geography of the world, or as to place in the universe - He is omnipresent. Reaching out to God is as close as one's breath. It is He that distributed people into their geographic assignments and times in history. Why did He do it as He did? So (Acts 17: 27) "that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us." This means they weren't distributed haphazardly, as if some were put in places that handicapped them from ever hearing the Gospel message - that's how we would see it. But God knows what connections, wooing, communications (both human and supernatural) that He will send them. Do not fail to also consider the very real possibility that some are put in areas where the Gospel has penetrated very little, or slowly, as God, with His foreknowledge off all things and all hearts and minds, knows precisely where their placements and eventual connections to the Gospel will be most effective, as well as to where they would not be effective.

But God also knows that many, no matter how exposed to the Gospel they are, will nonetheless do precisely as those who sat at Jesus' feet and watched astonishing miracles, but still would not place their faith in Him - meaning, most will forever reject God, no matter what wooing or enlightenment He could give them. And, He will not coerce them into belief and committing themselves to Him. So, many may not receive more than the general revelation of God's existence, precisely because He knows it would do them no good, as they would only reject it. It is God's will that all so willing to respond in faith to what He gladly will show them, will be saved. So, only He knows the best placements of people in time, history and place, and their proximities to the Gospel's eventual travel. And far from being haphazard, it is the perfect strategic plan - and clearly not like one we would have devised. As with so many ways of God, they seem foolish to us.

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby bippy123 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:00 pm

patrick wrote:This is a line of thought I've often seen leveled against Christianity, and really every religion, but those others aren't key here. I have my own answers to this, but I'm really curious how others here view it -- for one thing, my conviction in God's existence doesn't extend to the personal God of Christianity per se (though I do find it to have the most lucid perspective on God I've seen).

So basically, if you look at the palette of religious belief across the globe, you'll find a strong correlation between the religion people are born into (that of their surrounding culture) and the religion they hold as a middle-aged adult, with little pattern in terms of conversion from one to another, or one religion standing out from another against this pattern. Here's a place where this argument is elaborated upon: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexami ... -pakistan/

The key point is that while this in no way proves a belief one way or another, it's a correlation that merits explanation. And the atheistic explanation is that religion is just an aspect of culture, just like language. So the question being asked is essentially, "if God exists, and Christianity is true, how come it seems that whether one becomes a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu is dependent almost entirely on the culture one is born into?"


Patrick I would suggest you research exclusivism , inclusivism , pluralism and universalism .
I think after learning more about these terms you will see how silly this atheist assertion is .

I used to think about this a lot until I researched these 4 terms throughly
Also read through the writings of the early Christians right after the apostles and onward

People like Justin martyr , clement of Alexandria , Origen etc

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby PaulSacramento » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:33 am

That is an argument of the weak willed.
Quite obviously, where you are born has SOME influence in what you believe, unless of course Sam Harris is right and there is no free will which in that case NOTHING you believe is on you anyways so: whatever dude !

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby patrick » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:32 am

Yeah, I agree. I see the argument as largely a kind of red herring. Basically, "so what?" I think it's pretty obvious that people are influenced to believe in what the people surrounding them believe. And equally obvious that people by and large are going to stick with their original beliefs rather than go truly learn about other cultures and seek the truth, all the more interesting when we find the formerly religious atheist quite often misunderstands even their old religion.

My view is that this simply points to the fact that people are easily tempted to take whatever excuses they can to suit themselves, Christians being no exception. Christians nowadays very often ignore what the Bible says in favor of what people of secular culture believe, mixing and matching as it suits them. So it's no surprise that people's religious beliefs differ along with their cultural practices. Furthermore, a lot of the justification for Islam itself is a reflection of atheistic sentiments, like "it's not fair that God revealed Himself to this group of people but not that (but now Allah has brought Mohammad so Arabs have no excuse)" or "doesn't it seem like an ancient book like the Bible would've gotten corrupted over the years? (hence Allah has brought Mohammad to purify the truth once and for all)."

And finally, like bippy mentioned, a thorough study of other religions may indeed lead one to conclude in favor of a type of inclusivism or universalism. Really, this line of thinking is good insofar as it's a wakeup call to really test one's own beliefs, but as usual, atheists are just using this to wave away the problem of justifying their own worldview. One may argue that all religions have a flawed idea of the truth, but if there's truth in difference of opinion, equally it seems there should be truth in their similarities.

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby bippy123 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:23 am

Just be careful Patrick not to confuse Christian inclusivism with universalism .
Christian inclusivist still believe that only Christ saves
Universalists don't believe you need Christ to be saved at all .
Big difference between the 2

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby RickD » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:04 am

bippy123 wrote:Just be careful Patrick not to confuse Christian inclusivism with universalism .
Christian inclusivist still believe that only Christ saves
Universalists don't believe you need Christ to be saved at all .
Big difference between the 2

If I remember correctly, there are some universalists that believe it's Christ's work that saves. They believe that since Christ's work has paid the price for all, all will be saved. Faith in Christ would be irrelevant, as far as universal salvation.
1 Corinthians 1:9
9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Audie wrote:
"Christianity is not a joke, but it has some very poor representatives."


St. Richard the Sarcastic--The Patron Saint of Irony

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby patrick » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:31 am

bippy123 wrote:Just be careful Patrick not to confuse Christian inclusivism with universalism .
Christian inclusivist still believe that only Christ saves
Universalists don't believe you need Christ to be saved at all .
Big difference between the 2


From the little I've seen of universalists, they seem to disagree on being inclusivist or pluralist. Like here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian ... agreements

But thanks for the well-wished warning.

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby PaulSacramento » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:26 am

There are types of Universalism:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Universalism

I am a sort of universalist in the sense that I believe that ALL will have the chance to KNOW Christ and they will choose and it is their choice, which go against the teaching that people are already preordained to either believe or not and God has already decided WHO will believe even before they are born.

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby Philip » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:40 am

Paul: I believe that ALL will have the chance to KNOW Christ and they will choose and it is their choice, which go against the teaching that people are already preordained to either believe or not and God has already decided WHO will believe even before they are born.


ALL people have a chance and ability to believe - with God's help - He must enable them to believe, and He will IF they will not permanently resist Him. Scripture prolifically reveals that choice is available to all and that we have free will to choose as we wish. He did not create people programmed to either belief or unbelief. But for God, due to His foreknowledge of all things, the Elect are already known - all those so willing to listen and obey His wooing, prompting and enlightening - all those who will ultimately abandon any resistance to Him they have. God's will is that ALL would be saved, but only those who will accept Him. His will that all who will ultimately reject Him will not be saved. And people do not need to hear the Gospel to resist God - they can reject Him as He has already revealed Himself and His existence through General Revelation (Romans). One can reject God - even without knowing all that He is (Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit) and all He offers them (per the Gospel, of Salvation, etc.). If a person will not permanently resist God, He will do all necessary to save them - however that would work, wherever, whenever He moves in their hearts and minds. But a huge percentage of people don't have a KNOWLEDGE problem - what they have are their own will's blockages of hard hearts and minds. So many watched Jesus perform incredible miracles and teach astonishing truths, over three years, but they still refused Him - many hating Him. Today, in America - the Gospel available everywhere - look how few people want anything to do with Jesus, how many still despise anything to do with faith.

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby PaulSacramento » Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:37 am

I agree that God already knows who are His.
That isn't, of course, the same as God deciding who is saved before they are even born.

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby Philip » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:45 am

Paul: I agree that God already knows who are His.
That isn't, of course, the same as God deciding who is saved before they are even born.


Absolutely, an enormous difference between those things.

Redundantly: There is no before and after decisions with God. He always knows all of His decisions, due to His knowledge of all things - which would include all He will EVER do, create or cause. And the fact that His decisions come from Who He is - His Holy Character. And so His Will is in perfect alignment with Who and What He is. And so, what is His will? It's definitely NOT that He wants to save ALL, no matter what their response to Him will be (including their permanent rejection). His will is that ALL will be saved who do not permanently resist Him and will ultimately accept and embrace what He will ultimately show them (the Gospel / Jesus / Salvation), through THEIR faith, which is also made possible (per their understandings and the enlightening He gives them, and via their free He also gave them) - their ability to exercise (unforced) by God to ALL those who will not permanently resist Him).

God's will is to eternally love all [i]those who love and desire Him
, but NOT those who ultimately will refuse to. And He makes the former things available to everyone! Depends first upon God's heart, via His Gift (Jesus / His suffering on the Cross / Resurrection) offered, and subsequently as a result of those, upon the response of the hearts and minds of people. So, God offers "all men, everywhere" glory or destruction.

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby PaulSacramento » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:03 am

Universalism to me is that God offers ALL men the gift of salvation and ALL are free to accept or reject it.
God "wants" all to come to salvation, even if He knows that some will reject Him.
ALL that do accept are of the body of Christ.

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Re: "If you were born elsewhere, you wouldn't be a Christian..."

Postby Philip » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:05 am

Technically, the term, "Universalism," is typically referred to by Christian theologians with a meaning that God will save everyone who ever lives - without qualification. But Paul's personal definition is correct: It's a club membership everyone could freely join, but only those with a certain choice (Jesus!) are allowed to join it.


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