Is Christianity Exclusive?

For this teaching to gel I would recommend you review the Does God Exist, Right; Wrong, Sez Who?; Are Miracles Real?; and Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? 

Only Jesus –Casting Crowns
Is Christianity Exclusive?

For today’s teaching to gel you really need to have been paying attention to the last four presentations: Does God Exist?, Right, Wrong Sez Who?, Are Miracles Real?, and  Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

In those messages, we found God Clues by asking four questions. What caused creation? Why do all humans have a moral code? How do you explain the event when the inexplicable happens? “If Jesus did not rise from the grave how do you explain the explosive growth of the Christian movement?

What answers do you offer for those questions? Where has intellectual honesty led you?

There are two common traps we can fall into when searching for answers. The first is when we have a deep belief that’s shown not to be true, we get uncomfortable. To deal with that discomfort we seek moral and social support so that we can continue to hold onto the belief we’ve invested ourselves in. The second is the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories. We don’t perceive circumstances objectively. We pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our prejudices.

If you are a believer, then I want you to rethink why you believe. If you are skeptical or have already decided that Christianity is superstitious foolishness, I have challenged you to address these questions. Reexamine what you believe. Move past what everybody thinks, move past confirmation bias and consider these inquiries afresh. Do your own work.

In doing my own work I have run into a huge obstacle to postmodern and relativistic thinking. The obstacle is exclusivity.  The belief, the Truth, that Jesus is the only way to God.  Our culture places a high value on individual autonomy and moral relativism which makes the idea of some other way but our own for salvation repellant. We are more comfortable with thinking that any sincere belief, any sincere way to God is a good way.

Jesus made a claim of exclusivity when He said: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 (NIV); He actually means exactly what He said.

“Except through me,” is a claim of exclusivity.

Acts 4:12 (MSG)
Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one."

“No one else.” is a claim of exclusivity.

“Given the NT's unequivocal claim of Jesus Christ's divinity, we cannot say that He was merely a great moral teacher since a great moral teacher would not lie about His own identity. There are only four options open to us in considering a man who claims to be God: either he is a liar, a [delusional nut job], [a tall tale legend] or [who He claimed to be].

“Someone who deliberately lied about his identity would be a trickster, pretty stupid to die for a lie. Someone who falsely believed himself to be God and told others so would be a deluded lunatic. The third option is that he never existed, or that his followers misinterpreted and distorted what he said, in other words, that the story is an embellishment—like a youthful George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. Or finally, we could conclude that he was who he claimed to be”
(Peter Saunders )

We all need to answer the question: Is Jesus who He claimed to be or not?

Your investigation into the historical reality of the resurrection will determine if Jesus is who He claimed to be. The resurrection is the validating stamp on Jesus teachings. If indeed you come to the conclusion that the resurrection did occur then the answer to the question of Exclusivity is yes.

That conclusion gives people who are not followers of Christ heartburn. Everyone believes that their belief is the right belief. You may have heard the question asked: “Don’t all religions lead to God?” Often soon followed by the complaint that Christianity’s claim of exclusivity “is oppressive and short-sighted, for it fundamentally leads to conflict and us/them dualisms that prohibit peace and” mutual co-operation
In other words, any claim of exclusivity is a detriment to the social order.

But let’s think a moment. I know it’s hard I get a headache every time I try. If I believe that “all spiritual roads lead to God” and one of those spiritual roads is that Jesus is the only way you’ve got a logic problem. You see both beliefs are equally exclusive. “One says, Jesus is the only way, the other says, all religions are the way. Both think the other has got it wrong. In other words, it can’t be true that all roads lead to God and that Jesus is the only way” ( BRUCE HILLMAN Both claims are equally exclusive because both claim that their version of truth is correct and the other is wrong.  (ibid.)

We run into the same problem when we consider the major religions of the word. The world's living religions do have many things in common - they all recognize a spiritual dimension to reality and have broadly similar moral codes. But closer examination also reveals a multiplicity of differences - for example, compare the teaching of the world's six major faiths (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism) on the nature of God, life after death, creation, sin, and salvation. “They cannot all be right!”

In my studies of Modern World Religion, “it seems all of them contain aspects of the truth. But if one is true in an absolute sense, then it follows logically that none of the others can be completely correct also. It's one or none”
That feels like you are being forced into a very unpopular position in our pluralistic society in which everyone is entitled to approve and support the opinion of everyone else, the position of saying “no, there is one way and this is it—faith in Jesus Christ.” “If Jesus was literally God incarnate, and if it is by his death alone that people can be saved, and by their response to Him alone that they can appropriate that salvation, then the only doorway to eternal life is the Christian faith.”  
(John Hick, "Jesus and the World Religions," in The Myth of God Incarnate, ed. John Hick (London: SCM, 1977), pp. 179-80.)

That makes every contrary thought, every other type of religious belief, false. The implications are as far-reaching as they are uncomfortable for those who reject such thought.

Matthew 10:32-34 (NIV)
"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

There is no compromise in Jesus position. A sword divides and servers. The result of accepting this Truth is division and the inevitable persecution of the minority who hold such beliefs.
John 15:18
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

What is this sword that Jesus brings? I’ve put three verses of scripture together to give you an idea.

Isaiah 49:2; Revelation 1:16; Hebrews 4:12  (NIV)
[God] made my mouth like a sharpened sword… out of [Jesus] mouth came a sharp double-edged sword…For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The sword is Truth.

People not out to kill you for what you believe and are congenial may say “Christianity may be true for you but it isn’t true for me.” “I can see that believing in Christianity ‘helps’ you, that it is ‘true for you’. But it is not ‘true for me’.” “Everybody should be free to choose his or her own belief.” The problem with this line of thinking is it substitutes the word opinion for the word true, without actually replacing the word “true” for “opinion.”  The definition for the word true is something is true when it is in accordance with “fact” or reality. We can’t have two opposing truths, one must be correct and the other incorrect. “Truth by definition is exclusive. If truth were all-inclusive, nothing would be false” (Walter Martin) If something is true then it is. Jesus claims to be the Truth. That is a claim to exclusivity.

I have to ask myself some hard questions as I believe this Truth. What about the people born in predominately anti-Christian cultures? What about those who may never have heard an accurate telling of the gospel? What about children who die before they get a chance to accept or reject this Truth, the mentally diminished? What about all the people who lived in the America’s, in Eastern Asia, in Australia, in those isolated Islands, during the first century?  “Whole populations and ethnic groups have lived and died without ever having an opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ's offer of salvation”
The idea that God might condemn loved ones simply because they do not assent to the right data—belief—seems to [me] a miscarriage of justice.”

Putting aside all my speculation, the Bible simply does not answer these types of questions.  “I don’t know” is the only answer I can give. All I can say with certainty is the gospel was presented to me and I responded with affirmation and acceptance, bent my knee to Christ and asked God to forgive and to save.

I believe God is too loving to be cruel and too wise to make a mistake. I believe that “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love”
Psalms 103:8 (NIV). Abraham., the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, asked a rhetorical question
Genesis 18:25 (NIV)
“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
That’s where I have to bring the type of questions raised, to the Judge who will do right.

The accusation can be made that I am arrogant and bigoted, narrow-minded, that I think the Truth I believe makes me superior to everyone else, and worst of all intolerant as is everyone who believes the claims of Christ. That’s the reason why our modern culture is hating Christianity.

There is only one way I know as to how to overcome these accusations.

1 Peter 2:15-17 and 1 Peter 3:16 (MSG)
“It is God's will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you're a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.” “Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath.”

The Way—Worship Central

Is Christianity exclusive? Yes, it is. Jesus claimed that He is the only way. This is an issue you must decide for yourself for much is at stake, salvation, living your life to the full, life eternal are at stake. You will either acknowledge this Truth and live accordingly, or you will reject this as nonsense and forge your own way.

The exclusivity of Christianity is so very inclusive, for the invitation is sent out to every human being no matter who they are, no matter what they have done, no matter what they believe. For those who believe, the inclusiveness of Christ proclaims:

John 1:12 (NIV)
 “…to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…

For you who have not received him, in my arrogance, narrow-mindedness, and intolerance, urge you to consider these claims of Christ. Investigate, do your own work, think for yourself and then make a decision.

For you have received Him, the scripture instructs you on what to do:
1 Peter 3:15 (MSG)
Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.

And don’t forget to be a lover. Treating everyone with respect and seeking to meet their need as the opportunity presents itself.

The Way—Pat Barrett


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