Revisiting Exclusivity

John 14:6 (ESV)

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If you are a Christian and read this verse, you would hopefully come away believing that there is one single way to God, and that is through accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. However, in a 2008 Pew Forum study, 57% of self-professing Christians believe there is more than one way to heaven, despite the verse above that undoubtedly is in their Bible as well.

How could this be? For starters, the religious landscape has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades and quite a few pew sitters today have adopted a postmodern view that is built around tolerance and relativism. These individuals and church leaders do not want to offend anyone and build their message around acceptance and universalism. The message from the pulpit becomes a watered-down feel good message instead of proclaiming the truth of God’s Word. After all, we do not want to seem out of harmony with the world, do we? We might lose some members of our church……

Among all of the religions of the world, only Christianity delivers the message of Heaven as a destination that has nothing to do with man's works. All others require you to do this action, complete these sacraments, pray this way, etc. The reason Christianity is an unpopular choice for some is that it requires man to not be in control of their destiny through their actions. We have in us such a sense of pride that cannot let go of a need to work our way to glory. The thought of Ephesians 2:8-9 being true is too challenging a concept.

Besides, many would rather fashion God in their image than accept the biblical view of God. That way, it is easier to rationalize a lifestyle contradictory to God's Word and thus create the delusion that "God will understand." Those who take this view cannot fathom a God who does not love us regardless of our choices. The biblical doctrine of sin becomes distorted.

Unfortunately, in our postmodern world, being too harsh and judgmental is an affront to society. Those who say Christianity is the only way to salvation feel it is not fair or it’s too arrogant to make such a claim. Relativism, the belief that truth is merely the opinion of an individual and can be different for others, is the mantra of today.

However, truth by its nature is exclusive. When one says they have the truth, they are also saying all other contradictory claims are false. This is the basic tenet of the Law of Non-Contradiction. Either A is true and B is false or vice versa, but not both. For example, both Christianity and Islam claim exclusivity to the truth. Only one of these claims is true. Given that the population of non-Christians in the world is at approximately 70%, Matthew 7:13-14 seems extremely prophetic:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

If you hold fast to believe the Bible is God’s Word and that Jesus Christ is the only way, then you must stand against a majority of the world. We cannot and must not alter this message to appease the sensitivity of the postmodernists. This also means we should not remain silent when asked to defend our faith. Silence can easily be perceived as acceptance. I think many of us have a fear of losing friendships if we take a stand, and thus take the easy way out by simply tolerating the individual, which in essence, affirms their belief. Nowhere in Scripture does it say we are to be tolerant to a message in contrast to the claims of Christ. We are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), but not a message that clearly is against Scripture. Judgment on our part, however, is reserved only for a fellow believer, and not for the rest of the world (1 Corinthians 5:12).

Christianity is being attacked from all directions today, just as it always has been. While we focus much concern on the external forces trying to destroy the church of Christ, we must not overlook the internal efforts within our own congregation that attempt to alter the Word of God so that it fits in today’s postmodern world. This can be particularly devastating, especially in a church that does not practice biblical discipline.

John MacArthur said this, “We need to regain our confidence in the power of God's truth. And we need to proclaim boldly that Christ is the only true hope for the people of this world. That may not be what people want to hear in this pseudo-tolerant age of postmodernism. But it is true nonetheless. And precisely because it is true and the gospel of Christ is the only hope for a lost world, it is all the more urgent that we rise above all the voices of confusion in the world and say so.”