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Ajith Fernando: Sharing the Truth in Love

 

Ajith Fernando, Sharing the Truth in Love: How to relate to people of other faiths (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 2001), 287 pages.

Ajith Fernando lives and works in Sri Lanka as the head of Youth for Christ, an organization that will meet with the approval of just about everyone who reads this book review. We like the organization and its outreach for the Lord Jesus Christ, but where Fernando lives and works, YFC’s reception is a little different and sometimes the tension that conversion to Christ brings to a household is overwhelming and even scary.

Fernando wrote a book fifteen years ago, and this is a rewrite of much of what he then presented. He discusses the weighty topics of pluralism, fundamentalism and inclusivism—exploring how Christians should understand these terms. How can we dialogue with and persuade people of the truth of Jesus? What can you do when you are charged with arrogance and intolerance?

We learn about general and special revelation. How does the God of the Bible compare with other gods? Fernando presents a short but insightful explanation of Far Eastern faiths. I found this quite interesting since I live in a community where my WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) background is in the minority and most of my neighbors and fellow churchgoers are Asian. How does the Asian think and why?

The well-written book is comprehensive in its presentation of evangelical theology. We learn of the pitfalls that Fernando has faced, and that the Christian needs certain disciplines if she is to survive outside the Christian ghetto. These disciplines are the Scriptures, the Christian community and the Great Commission.

The Scriptures are terribly important when we interact with the heights of non-Christian reasoning. Prolonged contact with unredeemed systems of thought can cause us to drink in features that contradict God’s word. There is a great gulf between the highest human thought and God’s thoughts. Mere human thought, which has not been exposed and sanctified by divine revelation, can seem comfortable and has an inherent appeal to us. For example, the uniqueness of Christ tends to fade when we are faced with the ideas of religious pluralism—the idea that there is more than one way to God and that we are all pilgrims on their way to finding the One to whom we owe all. That sure sounds logical and so sensible and sensitive, and not agreeing is embarrassing and awkward. After all, we really are looking for light in our relationships to nature and to each other. However, the experience of the power of the Gospel takes away our shame over the scandal—the particularity of the Gospel. When we share the truth in love and in the power of the Spirit, God breaks into our lives and people are changed when they encounter Him.

 

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Category: Living the Faith, Summer 2005

About the Author: H. Murray Hohns went home to be with Jesus on November 28, 2012. He was on staff at the largest church in Hawaii and served on his denomination's investment committee from 1999 until his death. Hohns held two degrees in Civil Engineering, an MA in Theology from Fuller Seminary, and served as an instructor at Foursquare's New Hope Christian College (formerly Pacific Rim Christian College) in Honolulu. He wrote six engineering books and hundreds of articles in every type of newspaper, magazine and journal.

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