Is it possible to find Christ in another religion? The author of Hebrews says the answer is YES! There’s a whole chapter dedicated to it.
In my last article, “Is It Ok to Be Friends with People of Other Faiths?” I stress the importance of interfaith friendships. Some warn against relationships with people of other religions, suggesting that their influence may rub off. But Jesus admired people of other religions and even enjoyed their company.
Christ in Another Religion
Many books have been written, recognizing the kindred spirit between Jesus and Buddha, Krishna, Lao Tzu, and others. When we foster friendships with people of other faiths, seeking to learn from them rather than convert them, we are often surprised to find common ground. We may even find a hidden gem that points to Christ. Let’s look at the example of Abraham’s friendship with Melchizedek, found in Genesis 14:
After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh, that is, the King’s Valley. And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
maker of heaven and earth,
and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything.
Melchizedek, An Archetype of Christ
Chapter seven of the book of Hebrews examines this story and takes the leap that Melchizedek was an archetype of Christ. He is the king of Salem (Shalom), and could therefore, like Jesus, be called the Prince of Peace. He shares with the patriarch a ceremonial meal of bread and wine, analogous to Communion. The author of Hebrews says, “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.” The author of Hebrews finds Christ in Melchizedek—a man who was the high priest of another religion. Some believe Melchizedek to be a mere archetype of Jesus. Others who interpret more literally suggest that this priest/king could even have been a pre-incarnate Jesus. One way or another, Hebrews is clear that Christ could be found in this priest of another religion.
Paying Tribute to Another Religion
Make no mistake—Abraham and Melchizedek were of two different faiths. Abraham and Sarah called God, “Yahweh,” or “I Am.” They also called God, “El Shaddai,” or “God Almighty.” But Melchizedek was the high priest of a deity named “El Elyon” or “Supreme God.” Abraham had to decide whether this El Elyon was worthy of a tithe. Based on the name of Melchizedek’s city, Salem, he figured that El Elyon was a God of peace. Since Abraham was a henotheist and not a true monotheist, he probably saw El Elyon, the Supreme God or Best God, as equivalent to his Almighty God. So, Abraham said, “Sounds like a pretty good religion to me,” and paid his new friend a tribute, or tithe.
Christ in their Hearts
Sounded like a pretty good religion to the author of Hebrews as well, who said that Jesus was also a “high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” Just as Abraham and the author of Hebrews show us, it’s possible to find the presence of Christ in other religions. And it is certainly possible to find Christ in the heart of people from other religions, or no religion at all. So, enjoy your friendship with people from other faiths. It’s not even necessary to convince them to invite Jesus into their hearts. Maybe your friends are priests in Melchizedek’s order, as well. Perhaps, like Melchizedek, Christ is in their hearts already, even more than some of the people from your church.
For related reading, check out my other articles:
- Do Christians Have a Monopoly on the Holy Spirit?
- Can a Christian Use Muslim Prayer Beads?
- If You See God, Kill Him! – Separating God From Our Beliefs About God