Jesus…the Only Way?
Related Article: Arrogant Christians?
Christianity is Exclusive:
It claims to be the one and only true religion, which places Christianity at odds with the growing belief that it is all a question of ‘perspective’ and all claims to truth are equally valid.
America in the twenty-first century embodies ethnic, racial, cultural, and religious diversity. Our urban and suburban neighbors come from all parts of the globe. “America, as a democratic nation, places great value on tolerance, especially tolerance of religious expression. As American citizens, we are guaranteed the free exercise of religion by the Bill of Rights . Unfortunately, some people have taken tolerance of religious expression to mean that all religions are equally true ie. equally valid paths to God. In effect, democracy has been applied to ultimate truth” .
But So Are Other Religions:
However, while it has often been said that for Christians to claim that Jesus is the one and only way to God is grossly arrogant, what most people do not realize is that Christianity is not the only religion that claims exclusivity. In fact all religious traditions make claims which contradict those of other religions.
Islam claims theological and linguistic exclusivity. Muslims believe that the sole and consummate miracle of Islam is the Qur’an, which is only recognizable in Arabic and hence requires a sophisticated knowledge of the language. Any translation is believed to de-sanctify it.
Hinduism, while claiming to be a religion that ‘accepts all religions to be true’ (Indian philosopher Swami Vivekananda) is absolutely uncompromising on the authority on the Vedas (Hindu scripture), the law of karma (the law of moral cause and effect) and reincarnation.
Buddhism was born when Gautama Buddha rejected the ultimate authority of the Vedas and the caste system.
Sikhism came as a challenge to both Hinduism and Buddhism.
Atheists reject the viewpoints of those who believe in God.
Truth… Relative or Absolute?
A 2002 Barna Research survey showed that a majority of Americans base their beliefs and moral decisions on feelings, and reject the idea of absolute truth. According to the results of their study 64 percent of adults and 83 percent of teenagers believe that truth is always relative to the person and their situation.
However it seems to be forgotten that all truth is, by definition, exclusive. If truth does not exclude then no truth claim is being made. Those who claim “truth is relative” are contradicting themselves since the very statement ‘truth is relative’ means that, for the speaker, there is at least one absolute truth, namely that all truth is relative. But if that is the case, their own statement, ‘truth is relative,’ is false!”
So ironically, to deny the exclusive nature of truth is to make a truth claim.
Lets briefly talk about tolerance. A word that is bandied about by every one and his brother, but has, in recent years, been completely re-defined. The Dictionary states that tolerance is …
the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behaviour that one does not necessarily agree with:
However tolerance now means we must accept everyone’s ideas as equally valid. To be critical of anyone’s ideas is a sign of intolerance – which cannot be tolerated. Common sense tells us that the tolerance required today toward religious beliefs would be madness if applied to any other issue. Should police be tolerant of crime, doctors tolerant of disease, judges tolerant of false testimony, etc.? Yet a tolerance is mandated in spiritual matters which in any other context would be lunacy.
Besides which, should you talk to any vigorous proponent of the tolerance issue, you would find that when it comes to issues that happen to be are close to their heart.. animal cruelty, racism, rape, environmental vandalism, nuclear warfare, banning abortion etc. (to name a few possibilities) tolerance would take a flying leap out of the window, and what they believe would matter very much.
Additionally, do you know of any predominantly ‘Christian’ country where your life is in danger because you are of another faith? However there are plenty of countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and many parts of India, where being a Christian often means living very precariously, and where converting to Christianity is tantamount to putting your neck on the line.
So, in the west, people who have never thought the matter through, claim that it is ‘intolerant’ to state that the beliefs of another person is wrong, but in other countries it is okay to kill a Christian for following his religion.
A Question of Morality?
Doubtless, there are moral living Muslims, Hindus, Buddhist, Jews etc. but if this life were only about morality, then how you live and conduct yourself and your affairs would be paramount.
Morality is usually based on a code of conduct advanced by a society, or a religious (or other) group or, an unwritten code founded on abstract reasoning or a sense of ‘fairness’ and ‘right and wrong’. Common examples of immorality usually include lying, cheating, killing, stealing, defacing another’s property, etc. However, the problem is that not only has no philosopher through the centuries been able to define what morality is, humans can and do set widely differing standards for themselves that no two of them will agree on.
Many in today’s world believe that culture defines morality since many cultures have widely differing values. However does the variation of beliefs reflect an absence of an absolute moral code? For example… isolated tribes around the world have been known for their endearing acts such as cannibalism, wife beating, and continuous warfare to enslave neighboring tribes. Because this is all they have known and all they have been taught, their behavior is understandable. However it is impossible to say it is morally right.
Additionally many cultures have been known to practice poor sanitation habits, which has led to disease and death. Their ignorance about high standards of sanitation certainly does not mean that sanitation doesn’t exist, but simply that they need to be taught about it.
It is unquestionable that every aspect of society would fall into utter chaos unless there were absolutes, which brings up the question of how those absolutes are to be identified? Christianity has answered that question, arguing that there is a standard for morality that hasn’t been set by humans (which, as shown, would be impossible) but has been revealed to us by our Creator through the Scriptures.
Basis For Christian Claims:
The superiority of Christianity over all other world religions is not based on ethics, as many religions incorporate high ethical standards and often teach sound moral principles. The Christian faith has proclaimed and defended the position that it is a revealed-religion, not a speculative philosophy.
The Christian Bible states that no matter how well we live, we cannot live up to the standard of God. The very word ‘sin’ means missing the mark. So the question is not whether I’m a ‘Mother Teresa’, or a ‘Ted Bundy’. The question is whether I have come to the realization that I have fallen short of God’s standard and, therefore, apart from the grace of God have no possibility of being saved from the death penalty.[See What Is Sin?]
The superiority of Christianity lies in the fact that Jesus, God manifest in the flesh, came to earth, died for our sins and was then raised from the dead. Why? Simply because the punishment for all sin is death, but Jesus saved us from the death penalty by offering Himself in our place, thus offering forgiveness for sin and eternal life. No other religion can begin to offer this.
Choosing a Religion?
Many make the claim that when you strip away the extras, all world religions essentially teach the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. However only someone who does not understand world religions can make this claim. For example: Buddhism doesn’t even claim there is a God. [See Religious Pluralism].
Others, disgusted by religious bickering, have thrown up their hands and said, “The world would be a much better place if people simply stopped arguing over doctrinal disputes and focused on living in peace with each other.”
The truth is that the vast majority of mankind unquestioningly follows the religion of their parents with very few taking the time to check out the validity of their beliefs. Truth, in regard to religion, is a word that seems to be rapidly becoming obsolete. Sadly fully two thirds of Americans now deny there is any such thing as ‘truth’. However it is interesting as to how much of this denial is tied to ‘feel good’ religions and ways of life. For example:
Buddhism is getting exceedingly popular in America today. Why not? Modern Buddhism, adopting western capitalism, leans more and more in the direction of the profane with each new publication that appears on the stands. Eventually the message is reduced to how to keep feeling good about yourself. You can have a dose of spirituality from three to five in the afternoon and then go live your life anyway you please.
Hinduism is rich in philosophy and its ideology of treating the Earth with reverence (whether practiced or not) has much appeal.
However if we are to trust feelings alone as the basis for choosing our religion then we had better be very sure that what we are ‘feeling’ is right. The problem here is all of us can attest to plenty of times when our feelings were wrong. How wise is it to determine truth by our ‘feeling’.
Christianity is not based upon mere emotion or experience, but upon the historical reality of God acting in this world on our behalf. It is not therefore our job to pick a religion, but to simply respond to this gift of God, noting all the while that repentance, defined as a radical change in one’s attitude toward sin and God, is presented throughout the Scriptures as an absolute requirement for forgiveness.
The Christian who does evil goes against the religion he or she professes. The atheist, however, can justify almost any kind of activity since man becomes the measure of all things. Again, this does not mean that all or even most atheists lead blatantly immoral lives. It just means that they have no fixed point of reference by which to establish laws or to condemn the actions of others. [See The Relevance of Christianity]
Talk to people of any religion. No matter how committed they are to their particular religion, if they know anything about history, they will have to admit that there has never been a man like Jesus of Nazareth. He is the most unique personality of all time. It is important to remember that the Christian’s claim that Jesus is the only way to God is not based on their opinions but on the words of Christ himself. He was the one who said He was ‘The Way, The Truth, and The Life, and no man comes to the Father but through Him’. Any claims that Jesus made can only be taken as the truth and not just a personal opinion if He was who He said He was…the Son of God. Most people don’t realize that there is overwhelming evidence for His deity. His claims have been confirmed by the record of prophecy, His miracles, and the resurrection.
Unlike any other religion Christianity does offer criteria by which its truth-claims can be evaluated. While the Bible has certainly proven itself to be historically accurate, [See Section A Remarkable Book Called The Bible] the central claim of Christianity is that God entered human history 2000 years ago through a man named Jesus Christ who died on a cross between two thieves and rose from the dead three days later. The truthfulness of Christianity depends upon a critical historical event–the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In a first-century letter to a group of Christians the apostle Paul wrote the following about the significance of Christ’s resurrection:
“If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (I Cor. 15:14)
In other words, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then Christianity is false.
Thus, to disprove Christianity one would only need to show Christ was never raised from the dead. Because Christianity offers criteria by which its truth-claims can be evaluated, this makes it a great place to start one’s investigation. If Christ did rise form the dead… He was the son of God and His statement of being the only way to the Father was true therefore Christians are not being intolerant and ethnocentric, but truthful when they claim that He is the only way to God.
[See The Resurrection .. Fact or Fiction?]
While the message of the Cross is good news for the penitent, it carries an overtone of warning to those who ignore it’s message. One who rejects this rejects the only true means of dealing with that condition of sin. It’s important to realize that God does not consign anyone to heaven or to hell. Each person chooses to respond to or reject the grace of God.
Jesus Christ did not come into this world to make bad people good. He came into this world to make dead people live.
 The Challenge of Toleration by Carl Johnson.
It is often asked whether it is fair to condemn people when they have never heard about Jesus and simply follow the religious traditions of their parents. The apostle Paul referred to this when he was speaking to the people of Athens when he said, “From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the Earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us”. (Acts 17:26-27). When a heart hungers for Him, God can reach down past the barriers of culture, environment, and beliefs in ways that are beyond our understanding.
- Intolerant Christianity? (pilgrimpassing.com)
- The Reason for Faith, Part 4 (inchristus.wordpress.com)
- All religions- yes, all of them- claim some degree of exclusivity (andrewejenkins.wordpress.com)