The New Inklings may disagree on a lot of things, but ignorance and obnoxiousness, regardless of faith, will not be tolerated. If you’re new, refer ye to the Pub Rules before proceeding.
It will never be possible by pure reason to arrive at some absolute truth. ~Werner Heisenberg
This quote summarizes the current philosophical mood in our culture. The post-modern era has been in full swing for some time, and one of its core tenants (if there really are such things in post-modernism, which is a vague term itself) is the concept of relative truth. In other words, what’s true for you may indeed be true for you, but it may not be true for me. Even so, there is no way to know absolute truth.
I find the whole thing amusing, quite honestly. In some cases, this works. For example, consider this statement about myself: I must take medication so that my transplanted kidney continues to function. This statement is true for me, but it isn’t true for Franny B. She’s never had a kidney transplant, and thus she doesn’t have to take meds for it. Therefore, it isn’t true for her.
But in other areas of life, it doesn’t work. A stop sign is a stop sign, no matter if you think it’s message is true, valid, or not. Try telling the cop, “I don’t believe in stop signs. They may be true for others, but not for me.” You’ll still get a ticket.
Many in today’s culture feel that religion falls into the first category–that your religion may be true for you, but not for me. And since I’m a Christian, that brings up a topic that many agnostics and atheists have issue with:
Why is Christianity so exclusive?
Many Branches or One Path?
While many of the new breed of atheists want to end religion all together, many agnostics are fine with people practicing their religion as long as, (1) they keep it to themselves and discuss it without judgement, and (2) they allow others to practice their religions or non-religions. Others, in the name of tolerance, say that all religions are branches off the same tree or tributaries all feeding into one river. That sounds good, but is it true, especially when it comes to Christianity?
It’s been pointed out that most religions share several basic tenants: be a good person, treat others well, live with respect to others, etc. While there are many similarities on the surface, when one digs deeper they find that not all religions are the same.
Take Jesus for example. Christians believe Jesus is son of God who became a man, lived a perfect life, died as a substitute for all mankind, taking the divine penalty for sin on himself, and then raising from death three days later. Islam, however, only see Jesus as one of a succession of prophets. He did not die on the cross, and he was not the son of God. Judaism rejects Jesus as God and the Messiah. Buddhism has varying views on Jesus, but most agree that he was only an enlightened man. These are just three of the world’s major religions, and they don’t agree on Jesus. All they agree on about him was that he was a smart guy.
Many would say that we should just go with what we agree on about Jesus and forget about the rest. To do that, however, guts the core of Christianity. Without the Jesus of Scripture, there is no Christianity. If he was just a good guy who taught some good things, he wouldn’t be worth following.
And that’s the issue with the exclusivity of Christianity: it shows Jesus to be the son of God who lived perfectly, died on a cross to pay the price for man’s sins, and was raised from death never to die again. And that same Jesus said this in John 14:6,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Is that an exclusive statement? Yes. Jesus claims here that no one can be reconnected with God apart from Him. The preachers and authors of the New Testament affirm this. The apostle Peter preached these words in Acts 4:12,
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
There is no other way these references can be read. In their context, they proclaim that Christianity isn’t just a branch on the spirituality tree along with other religions. It’s the one path to God. The reason? Jesus’ historical death and resurrection validate his message. No other religion has a God who was physically raised from death (see our discussion “Hodgepodge Jesus” for more on this subject).
I realize, in our culture, that many find this arrogant. Unfortunately, many Christians have approached those whom they disagree with the angle of exclusion, and it has turned off many to the message of Jesus. It is better, however, to see these statements as radically inclusive.
Yes, Jesus said that no one comes to God except through him. But can you see what this means? Anyone who comes to Jesus is reconnected to God.
Many people say the Bible is anti-women, pro-slavery, and anti-gay (all of which would make great post subjects). Christianity, however, did much to elevate women. The Bible called men in Greco-Roman societies to honor their wives, to remain sexually faithful to them (ancient Greek men were known to have wives for childbearing, several sex slaves for pleasure, and a prostitute for an occasional “treat”), and it gave them honor in the church community that they did not find in their secular cultures. The Bible has an entire book, Philemon, dedicated to how the apostle Paul introduced a runaway slave to Jesus and implored his Christian master to accept him back as more than a servant, but a brother in Christ (and thus subvert slavery, not through legislation, but through life change). Scripture shows people from all walks of life being changed through Jesus.
In the opening scenes in Revelation, we see Jesus, the Lamb, on his throne, surrounded by heavenly creatures. They sing praises to him, and say this in Revelation 5:9,
…with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Anyone, regardless of their ethnic background, social situation, or economic level can reconnect to God through Jesus.
Is Jesus the only way to God? Christians say yes. But while there is only one path to God, anyone can walk on it.
The comments have been turned off for this post. Don’t worry, you’ll have your chance to join the conversation on Wednesday.