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Truth and Goodness in Non-Christian Religions

Can we affirm the presence of truth and goodness in non-Christian religions and, if so, on what basis? “There is no reason to maintain that everything taught by non-Christian religions is false or that there is nothing of value in them.”[1]This statement quoted by Keith Johnson was originally written by Harold Netland, it gives the answer to the question, “Can we affirm the presence of truth and goodness in non-Christian religions?” Most non-Christian religions affirm a form of what is called the golden rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Therefore, the answer is yes, we can affirm the presence of truth and goodness in non-Christian religions. The real question is on what basis? 
Keith Johnson explains that there is truth and goodness in non-Christian religions on the basis of general revelation, indirect influence of the Scriptures (special revelation), and common grace. Human beings were created in the image of God; therefore, we long for a relationship with God but as sinners we rebel and hide from God. As sinners’ man is separated from God but we can see truth and goodness in His creation. Justification is a gift: Revealed in Scripture alone. Given by the grace of God alone. Received through faith alone. Completed by the atonement of Jesus Christ alone. For the glory of God alone.[2]
Therefore, there is not sufficient knowledge in general revelation to bring someone who is separated from God to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but there is truth and goodness visible in God’s creation. Religions like Judaism, Islam and Mormonism all have some contact with the special revelation (Scripture), on this basis there is truth and goodness to be found in these non-Christian religions; however, the truth is distorted by sin (rebellion against God) resulting in hiding from God. Total depravity is the Christian doctrine regarding the inability of man to come to God in Jesus Christ by his/her own free will. 
Total depravity does not mean that human beings are as vial and wicked as they could be, in common grace, God restrains man’s sin nature and cares for all of mankind by giving us good things. This grace common in all humans leads men to have truth and goodness, evidenced in these non-Christian religions. So, yes, there is truth and goodness found in non-Christian religions on the basis of “general revelation, indirect influence of the special revelation, and common grace;”[3]however, in these non-Christian religions there is no salvation from eternal death apart from faith in Jesus Christ's finished work on the cross as it is written in Scripture alone. 


[1]Keith Johnson, “Christian Theology of Religions” in Missiology: An Introduction to the Foundations, History, and Strategies of World Missions, ed. John Mark Terry, 2nded. (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2015), 370-371.
[2]Cf. Romans 3.
[3]Keith Johnson, “Christian Theology of Religions” in Missiology: An Introduction to the Foundations, History, and Strategies of World Missions, ed. John Mark Terry, 2nded. (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2015), 370-371.

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