You’ve heard the comments, right?
“Truly spiritual people are all alike, no matter what religion they profess.”
“Why would there be so many different religions if only one is true?”
“How could a God of love send a person to Hell just because he didn’t happen to believe in Jesus?”
You know what really chaps people’s hides? It’s the obnoxious, narrow-minded, arrogant exclusiveness of this claim. No, really, think about it. Where do Christians get off claiming that, not only is their way the only way, but that everyone else is just plain wrong? It is obnoxious and narrow-minded. And it’s just about the most exclusive claim a person could make. It is not, however, arrogant . . . if it is true.
And that’s precisely the issue here: Is the claim that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life true?
If it is true, then no narrowness of mind or accusation of intolerance means a thing. That’s just the way it is.
But if it’s not true, then who really cares what a bunch of (in that case) crazy people say?
So, to be fully redundant and absolutely clear: Although people will try to make it an issue of kindness, courtesy, intelligence, modern-thinking and even patriotism, this question is actually a question of truth - and nothing else.
Now, to my knowledge there is no extra-biblical proof for the only-ness of Christ. Unlike philosophical proofs for the existence of God, this point of doctrine cannot be reasoned out. It must be revealed, or it cannot be known. And so, only two questions need be addressed.
1. Does the Bible really make this claim?
Answer: It does. Jesus himself made it.*
“I am the way, the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
These words – this claim – is so stunningly clear that the only way to get around it is to throw some mud and hope it sticks.
Maybe Jesus was wrong, the mud-tossers theorize. Maybe He just thought He was those things. People do make mistakes, you know.
Or, they continue, maybe He was misquoted. It happens all the time in the newspapers! Maybe what He actually said was: “I am a way, a version of the truth, and anyone can come to the Father any way they want.” **
For either of these diversions to even be possible, the Bible would have to be something less than true. Thus the importance of the second question.
2. Can the Bible be trusted?
Answer: I happen to think so.
I say there is a huge amount of proof that the Bible is true – not just spiritually or metaphorically true, but true the way we mean “true” when we use it in normal conversation. I will share those proofs in a later blod.
But for now, to put it in the simplest terms possible, it comes down to this: Do you believe the Word of God or do you not? I would say there are three possible answers to that question.
1. You believe. If that's the case then really, you have no choice. If you believe that the Bible is a God-given reliable documentation of reality, you must accept that there is only one way that people can be saved.
2. You say you believe the Bible is true but refuse to accept what it clearly teaches. In that case, you're indulging in stubborn disobedience or purposeful deception.
3. You do not believe the Bible is trustworthy. It may not really matter to you what the Bible says. You may reject it outright - or you may just not be quite there yet. Either way, thank you for reading, and I pray you'll continue.
* - John 14:6 is not the only place this claim is made. It’s all over the New Testament.
** - While this kind of attitude may be understandable from an unbeliever, as one Christian author puts it: “As a Christian, how can you explain Christ’s decision voluntarily to . . . accept all the real wrath of the Father for all of mankind’s past, present, and future sins, and to suffer the indescribable torment and death on the cross if all other paths to God are the same? What an immeasurable insult to the finished work of Christ on the cross!” (I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, Forward)