Chaplain John Oas

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Chaplain John Oas

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FAQ#3: How can Christianity claim that Jesus is the only way to God? That seems very exclusive and arrogant.

Without question, Jesus Christ is one of the most influential men who have ever lived. History itself is divided into the time before his life ("BC") and the time after ("AD"). Virtually all the major religions of the world recognize him as, at the very least, as a great and wise teacher. Yet, Jesus remains a subject of much controversy, largely because he made some rather radical claims about himself . . .

"I and the Father are one." John 10:30

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24

Jesus and his earliest followers clearly taught that Jesus was not merely a great moral teacher, but that he was actually God in human form, and that he serves as the only path to salvation and a relationship with God. Needless to say, this claim rankled many people during the time of Christ, and it continues to stir up dispute today. Even many committed Christians feel a bit uncomfortable with this aspect of their faith, especially since they live in a time which emphasizes tolerance and the acceptance of diversity. So what is to be done with Jesus' claims?

Food for Some Thought

First, we need to realize that Christianity is not the only "exclusive" belief system. The fact is that everyone's beliefs exclude something. For example, few people would argue that a path to God that emphasizes human sacrifice and cruelty is as valid as one that calls for compassion and justice. Further, even a belief system which states that all paths to God must be seen as equally valid automatically excludes any religion that sets itself apart as unique! In reality, to believe anything (such as the existence of God) means that we must "exclude" something else (such as the non-existence of God).

Secondly, it is important to point out what Christianity does and does not exclude. Believing in Jesus as the truth does not mean that we must see all other religions as containing no truth. Scripture clearly teaches that God has revealed himself not only in the Person of Jesus Christ, but also in creation (Romans 1:19-20). With this evidence being available to all, it only makes sense that some truth about God and reality can be found in all religions. However, since contradictions exist between religions, it is apparent that error is present somewhere. Christians need make no apology for holding to the teachings of Jesus at points where they diverge from other faiths.

In the final analysis, arrogance and intolerance are not so much a function of the contents of a given belief system, but rather how those beliefs are communicated. True intolerance does not stem from having a certain "exclusive" belief (as we've pointed out, all beliefs exclude something!). Rather, it stems from one's attitude and the approach one uses in dialoguing with those of another faith. It is possible to disagree with someone and still fully accept them by treating them with respect, courtesy, and love. Although Christians have often failed to do this, it is certainly the example left them by their Savior.

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