Is Jesus Really the Only Way to God/Part 6

By: Dr. John Ankerberg with various Scholars; ©{{{copyright}}}
Why isn’t Christianity intolerant or narrow-minded for teaching there is only one way to God?

Ed. note: This article is based upon the transcript from programs produced by the John Ankerberg Show. Additional material has been added for this print version.

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Why isn’t Christianity intolerant or narrow-minded for teaching there is only one way to God?

We have seen that Jesus Christ stands alone when compared to the founders of other great religions. We have also mentioned that the creation parallels the nature of its Creator through its unity and diversity. So we could logically expect the same things for the Creator’s approach to salvation. In other words, that salvation itself would stand alone and that, in ways, it would parallel the nature of the Creator and the nature of the creation.

Thus, first, Jesus is unique; Christian salvation is unique. Jesus is exclusively God’s Son; salvation is exclusively through Jesus. Only Jesus died for sin; only Jesus can forgive sin. Only Jesus resurrected from the dead; only Jesus can resurrect others to eternal life.

Essentially, if there is only one true God, then there should be only one true way of salvation because the way of salvation must be consistent with the nature of the one true God—His grace, love, mercy, truth, etc. As Dr. Robert Morey comments, “Logically, since all religions contradict each other, there are only two options open to us. Either they are all false, or there is only one true religion. If there is only one God—there will be only one religion.”[1] If so, then isn’t it possible that it is really the person who objects to this who is being narrow—too narrow to accept the truth? The truth may be difficult but that is no reason to reject it.

Second, what we find to be true about God’s creation is also true about the nature of salvation. Like everything else in the world, salvation must be done correctly to be successful. For example, consider some examples of how life works, or doesn’t work:

What happens if you drive your car in reverse? Or stop in the middle of a busy freeway? What happens if you let your dog drive your car? Or if you drive on the wrong side of the road—or drive drunk?

The result of driving incorrectly is that you injure or kill yourself and others. Driving incorrectly sooner or later has consequences, even for the best driver in the world.

When you build a house, what happens if you place the glass where wood should be and wood where the glass should be? Or build in a flood zone? Or use highly flammable materials? The result is that your house is not functional, or you risk losing your home.

Consider playing tennis. What if you try to play tennis with a broken arm? Or use your hand as a racket? Or play with your side of the court under water? The result is you will lose the game.

Consider learning math or having surgery. What if you try to learn math by reading comic books? What if you’re scheduled for a routine appendectomy and the surgeon takes out your brain instead? In either case, you’re in trouble.

If everything in the world must be done correctly to be successful, and if our lives are literally filled with examples of the problems caused for us when we do things incorrectly, why should we conclude that salvation is any different? Why should we conclude there wouldn’t be consequences for doing salvation wrong?

Do we say it is being narrow-minded, intolerant or bigoted for us to drive sober or for surgeons to operate on us properly? Indeed, our very lives may be at stake. And if our lives are already at stake in worldly things, isn’t it also possible that our souls may be at stake in spiritual things? But a life is only for a short period of time; a soul is forever.

Then how much more vital is it that we be certain that salvation be done correctly if our very souls are at stake? The point is that the Christian claim to exclusivity is not something that is out of harmony with how people experience life and with how the world functions. God made the world this way because He had to. Given His character. He also had to make the way of salvation through Christ and Christ alone. A fascinating, if detailed study of this can be found in the late Canadian scholar Arthur C. Custance’s The Seed of the Woman (1980).

Christianity is indeed exclusive—it claims that only those who believe in Christ will find salvation—but it is not narrow-minded, intolerant, or bigoted. People can be broadminded or narrow-minded but not ideas. Ideas are neither broad nor narrow—they are true or false. The claim that Christ is the only way of salvation is either true or false. This can be determined only on the basis of the evidence, which we briefly address below.

Those who think Christianity is intolerant should ask whether other religions and philosophies are really as tolerant as they claim. In fact, they usually aren’t. So why should only Christianity be singled out for criticism? Merely because Christianity is the most honest about its beliefs?

When people claim to be tolerant, open-minded, objective, and fair, one must question such claims based on biblical revelation. Biblically speaking, if people in their natural state, prior to regeneration, are said to be God’s enemies (Romans 5:10) who deliberately suppress the truth by unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) and who, actually, hate God (Romans 1:30) where can we logically expect to find tolerance, neutrality, or objectivity regarding religion and philosophy?

Ironically, it is frequently those people who claim to be accepting and tolerant of almost anything who are not tolerant of one thing—Christian faith. Literally thousands of examples could be cited of bigotry, hypocrisy, narrow-mindedness, and intolerance expressed towards Christians for doing no more than living out the logical consequences of their own religious faith[2] —something that those who malign Christian faith often claim to defend in all religions. Indeed, we challenge our readers to find a single religion anywhere that accepts Christianity as being fully true. Obviously, there are none, because all religions claim they are fully true.

Christianity is exclusive, but it is not intolerant. While it seeks to convert others to faith in Christ, it respects the right of all men to choose their own destinies. But if men’s destinies are at stake in the issue of salvation, people everywhere should also rejoice that Christians are sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because if Christianity really is true, Christians have no other choice.

Read Part 7

Notes

  1. Robert A. Morey, Introduction to Defending the Faith (Southbridge, MA: Crowne Publications, 1989), p. 38.
  2. For illustrations in science see Jerry Bergman, The Criterion (Richfield, MN: Onesimus, 1984).

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