By Jensen DG Mañebog
A COMMON APPEAL in advertising and politics, the fallacy called argumentum ad populum (argument to the people) argues that something must be true and acceptable because many or most people believe or like it. Even in choosing a religion, this “appeal to popularity” seems to deceptively work as many feel guilty if they go against the majority, but feel confident and secured by joining forces with large numbers of other “believers.”
This is precisely the reason some refuse to join the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) knowing that it is not the religion of the majority. “If indeed there is only one true religion,” they say, “it could not be the Iglesia Ni Cristo because its members are comparatively few.”
But, does a religion’s being composed of the majority translate to its being true and of God? “If many believe so, is it necessarily so?”
The truth of a belief does not depend on the preponderance in number of people who hold it. No rule of thought grants infallibility to the majority. In fact, numerous people have been wrong about many things: that our planet is flat and motionless, that the Earth is the center of the universe, and that the Sun and other planets revolve around it, to name a few.
Even in Ethics, the fact that the majority of people support a certain act, say divorce, does not prove that it is morally right. Correct reasoning clearly states that a belief’s widespread acceptance is not counted as its binding justification.
The Bible disproves the assumption that the religion where a great number of people belong is necessarily of God. The Holy Book recorded that during the time of Noah, the whole of mankind, except for just eight persons, was annihilated by the great deluge (II Pet. 2:5). Noah’s ark, which was purposely designed by God for man’s salvation, was ignored nonetheless by the huge majority of his time. Relatedly, Sodom and Gomorrah were leveled to the ground by fire and brimstone and only Lot and his two daughters were saved (Gen. 19:16, 29; II Pet. 2:6-7).
Also refuting the belief that predominance in terms of membership makes a particular religion true is the universality of Satan’s deception (Rev. 12:9). Those who will be condemned to eternal punishment, according to the Bible, are “as numerous as the sands of the sea” (Rev. 20:8 New Revised Standard Version).
The true Church—God’s chosen people in the Christian era—does not need to be composed of the majority for it to be saved on the last day. Of ancient Israel, which was the first nation of God, the Bible says:
“The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples.” (Deut. 7:7 New King James Version)
There were millions of people who lived during biblical times, but only a few were chosen or elected according to God’s will. The right to serve God and to attain salvation, therefore, is not determined by the size of a religious organization, but by election or the setting apart by our Lord God (Ps. 4:3).
About those elected by God in the Christian era, the Bible pronounces:
“But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. Therefore, since we are now justified (acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God.” (Rom. 5:8-9 AMP)
The true religion in the Christian era, therefore, is that which is the beneficiary of Christ’s death—having been justified or purchased by Christ with His blood:
“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation)
Since not all religions were redeemed with Christ’s blood, not all churches are true. Purchased with Christ’s blood, it is the Church Of Christ which is “acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God.”
Salvation depends not on the choice of the majority but on one’s positive response to God’s specific commands. Though God wishes to save all men (I Tim. 2:3-4), He requires man to do his crucial part in responding to the divine call—becoming a member of Christ’s body, the Church Of Christ (John 10:9; I Cor.12:27; Acts 20:28 Lamsa).