Point: Ever had someone object that all religion are all the same, that it leads down to the same road? Or ever have someone say that the details of religion doesn’t matter and that any religious differences between Christianity and other religions are rather superficial? How do you respond?
Picture: I saw a news story with the following title “Kenyan headed for South Korea accidentally traveled to North Korea:”
SEOUL, April 24 (UPI) — An indigenous Kenyan cow herder registered to attend a U.N. biodiversity conference in Pyeongchang, South Korea, said he was detained in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, after booking a wrong flight last September.
Daniel Olomae Ole Sapit, 42, who is from Kenya’s semi-nomadic Maasai tribe, said the similar sounding names had confused him and his travel agent in Kenya, who booked the flight.
“For an African, who can tell the difference?” Sapit told The Wall Street Journal.
According to the Journal and South Korean media, Sapit was eventually allowed to leave North Korea and board the correct flight to South Korea’s Incheon Airport, but only after he signed a North Korean document admitting to violating laws, being detained for several hours, and paying for a new ticket and a fine of $500 for entering North Korea without a visa.
The Kenyan national said he did not suspect anything wrong, even after boarding an Air China flight to Pyongyang, North Korea.
When he glanced out the plane window as he descended, however, the view below struck him as odd.
“It seemed to me a very underdeveloped country,” said Sapit, who was expecting to see the urbanized and industrialized cityscape of South Korea.
After landing at North Korea’s Sunan International Airport, where he saw hundreds of soldiers and portraits of North Korea leaders, he knew he had made a mistake.
Pyeongchang, a South Korean city on the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula, is scheduled to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Dick Pound, a Canadian member of the International Olympic Committee since 1978, said in 2002 there was initial confusion about the name, when Pyeongchang first emerged as a bidder for the Winter Olympics.
There was more confusion, the Journal reported, when South Korean provincial governor Choi Moon-soon suggested North Korea could host a few events, such as snowboarding – a statement he was later forced to retract.
In 2014, CNN reported North Korea opened a ski resort and hotel, Masik Pass, located in the northern half of the same province that will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. The ski resort was completed in just under a year, and was an attempt to convince South Korea that Pyongyang could host at least some of the 2018 events.
I think this News story is a helpful apologetics illustration for the objection. Let me explain by the following scenario below.
POSSIBLE SCENARIO FOR EMPLOYING THIS ILLUSTRATION DURING APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM
OPPONENT: I don’t really see any differences between Christianity and other religion. They are all the same.
CHRISTIAN: You think they are the same?
OPPONENT: Yes. There are a lot of similarities between Christianity and other religions.
CHRISTIAN: Such as…?
OPPONENT: Christianity like other religions teaches good morals. Wouldn’t you agree?
CHRISTIAN: Christianity certainly has high standards of ethics. Other religions I’m sure teaches some morals and have rules. But I think there is a difference in terms of the end goal and motivation for why Christians pursue holiness that sets it apart from other religions.
OPPONENT: Oh but the details doesn’t matter.
CHRISTIAN: You really want to say the details doesn’t matter? And that the differences of the end goal and motivation doesn’t matter? Have you heard about this one story?
OPPONENT: I’m listening.
<Give illustration >
CHRISTIAN: Do you think it’s important not to confuse the city of “Pyongyang” and “Pyeongchang?”
CHRISTIAN: Even though for an outsider such as the Kenyan Man, it sounds the same?
CHRISTIAN: So I suppose details does matter. If details matter in our day to day mundane life why is there an exception for religious and spiritual matters?
OPPONENT: Good point. But I must protest…
CHRISTIAN: Let me finish my point first if I may.
CHRISTIAN: Let’s say you discovered the error the Kenyan man made while you were chatting with him as you two were sitting in the terminal lobby. You are heading to Pyeongchang and his ticket says Pyongyang. He’s convinced that the details doesn’t matter. In fact he sees your scheduled departure at the terminal next to his as a sign that there’s no difference. Is the Kenyan man reasonable to see the near proximity of your terminal with his as meaning that the end goal of the flight being the same?
OPPONENT: Of course not! Being next to one another in terms of terminal has no bearing as to where the flight is going!
CHRISTIAN: I submit the same is true with our religious direction if we are wrong with the details and wrong with the destination. At first it might seem that both flights are taking the same course of direction for most of the journey from Africa to the Korean Peninsula. But the moment of truth arrives when one finally gets closer to the destination. Suddenly the path diverges. In the same, there might be times when outwardly it looks like the various religions teaches someone a life path that somewhat follows the Christian path. But sooner or later the path diverges as one gets closer to the end goal. It is the same with Christianity and other religion. Christianity’s end goal is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. A Christian salvation means escaping hell through Jesus’ work on the Cross where one is declared righteous not because of one’s own righteousness but that of Christ. Other religions’ end goal of what salvation means differ. For the Buddhist it’s about Nirvana. For the Buddhist, it’s being back to one with God in which one’s Divinity is absorbed back into One. The means are also different: God in Christianity provides grace for salvation through faith alone in Christ alone. Other religions teaches works-righteousness as a means to achieve salvation.