During this message series we’ve looked at a lot of objections that people raise when it comes to our faith. We spent quite a bit of time talking about specific objections people have toward the Bible. Then we moved on to talk about objections people have about Jesus—specifically, His Resurrection, whether He was even a real person, or if our beliefs about Jesus stem from pagan mythology. And if you missed any of those or want to review, you can find those messages on our website.
Today we’re going to continue by looking at objections people raise about the claims of Christianity. Specifically, the claim that Christianity is right and other faiths are wrong. Who are we to claim that billions of other people have it wrong? Isn’t there room for all beliefs and all faiths? Aren’t they just a matter of opinion? Or… is it more than that? Could one faith be right and all the others wrong? After all, if something is wrong, isn’t it still wrong regardless of how many people might believe it’s right?
1. You Christians are so intolerant. How can you say Jesus is the only way when there are so many different religions in the world?
This is a problem of not understanding what the word “tolerance” means. It seems today that people have the idea that being tolerant means agreeing with everyone. They think it means everyone’s right and no one’s wrong.
But that’s not what tolerance means. Tolerance really means that even when you disagree with someone, you treat them with gentleness and respect. Like those verses we looked at earlier in the series…
1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT)
…You must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
It says to always be ready with an explanation with people question why you believe what you believe—that’s why we’re doing this series—but then it also adds two very important words: “gentleness” and “respect.”
You don’t respond in an aggressive argumentative way, and you don’t try to beat people over the head with your faith. That would be intolerant. But when you respond with gentleness and respect you are being tolerant. Tolerance is about disagreeing agreeably. That’s in your notes…
Tolerance means disagreeing agreeably.
You don’t have to tell people they are right even when they are wrong. That’s a wrong understanding of tolerance.
When you were in school and you wrote on your test that two plus two equals five—and I really hope you didn’t do that—but if you did, did your teacher tell you that you were right or wrong? Well, if they were tolerant, wouldn’t they tell you that you were right? No, of course not. Because tolerance is not agreeing with everyone. Hey, if you agree with everyone, what is there to tolerate?
Hopefully your teacher corrected you, but did it in a tolerant way. Hopefully they showed you gentleness and respect as they showed you the real answer.
And by the way, when people raise this objection, saying that Christians are being intolerant, they themselves are being intolerant. They are saying that they are right and we are wrong. They are judging us, and often they’re not very gentle or respectful as they’re doing it.
Okay, so connected to that is this next objection:
2. You Christians are being exclusive when you claim that Jesus is the only way.
Well, the question is not whether Christianity is inclusive or exclusive. It's, is it true or untrue? If it’s true, then of course it’s exclusive. Because truth is exclusive by its very nature. If something is right, then it means something else is wrong. In fact, it means a multitude of “something elses” are wrong.
That’s the way it is with Jesus. Either the claims He made about Himself are true or they aren’t true. Because remember—it’s not us who claim Jesus is the only way; it’s Jesus who made that claim. So we’re repeating His claim, not making up our own. Jesus said…
John 14:6 (NLT)
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
So the real question is, “was Jesus telling the truth?”
Now, there are two different kinds of truth: subjective truth and objective truth. And a subjective truth might actually have different answers that are true. If you said that strawberry ice cream is better than chocolate, would you be wrong? Well no, but I’d disagree with you. That’s a subjective truth.
If you claim Batman is a better superhero than Spider-Man, would you be wrong? No. It’d be open for debate, but neither one would be right or wrong.
If you cheer for the Montreal Canadiens, would you be wrong? Yes, because some things are always wrong.
So there’s subjective truth that might be different for each person. But then there’s objective truth. Objective truth is either right or it’s wrong, and it doesn’t matter who the person is or what they believe.
[Actually, there is an argument that can be made that there is not subjective truth. In the above example, it would say that the objective truth is that Greg Hanson prefers chocolate ice cream is better.]
If you swallow cyanide, you will die. That’s an objective truth.
Two plus two equals four. That’s an objective truth.
If you jump out a window and try to fly like a bird, it’s gonna hurt. You cannot flap your arms and fly like a bird. That’s an objective truth.
Jesus’ claim that He is the one and only way to God the Father is an objective truth. Either it is true, or it is false. It can’t be true for some people and not true for others. Either He is the way or He is no way. But it can’t be both ways.
Is that exclusive? Only so far as all truth claims are exclusive. Truth by its nature is exclusive. However—and this is important—Jesus is completely inclusive. That’s in your notes…
Truth by its nature is exclusive, but Jesus is completely inclusive.
While Jesus claims to be the one and only way, He invites every person on the face of the planet to come to Him and discover Him as the way. He turns no one away based on age, gender, intelligence, social standing, political persuasion, occupation, height, weight, hair colour… Even if you do cheer for the Canadiens, He welcomes you to come to Him.
So while His claims may be exclusive as far as all truth claims are exclusive, Jesus Himself is completely inclusive.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT)
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave His life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.
3. Aren’t all religions basically the same?
Actually, no. Different religions or different faiths are not the same.
Now, before we actually get into that, let me just say that personally I don’t even like to use the word religion. The people Jesus had the most trouble with were religious people. Christianity is more about a relationship that a religion. It’s about knowing Jesus personally and getting to know Him better every day.
So I’m not much of a fan of talking about Christianity as a religion. The book of James talks about how pure religion should be about things like caring for widows and orphans. But I think all too often, when people talk about religion, they’re talking about a political entity that can become corrupted and can be judgmental and is all about guilt and manipulation. That’s not the kind of religion that Christianity is mean to be.
You might hear people say they have a problem with organized religion. Well, so do I. I’m more of a proponent of disorganized religion.
Anyway, with that said, aren’t all religions—including Christianity—basically the same?
Let’s consider that. There are some similarities… most religions have some sort of moral code, they might claim to know the way to God, they might have sacred texts, they might saints or icons that they revere… you’ll find those kinds of things in most major religions. So yes, on a broad scale there are some similarities.
But those similarities begin to disappear when you get into it a bit more.
Christians consider Jesus to actually be God. Muslims say he was just a man. Maybe an important man, but still just a man. That’s a pretty major difference.
And what happens when you die? Do you come back as someone or something else? Do you get absorbed into some sort of universal consciousness? Do you cease to exist? Or do you face the judgment of God and then enter into Heaven or Hell? Pretty major difference.
How are you save? By doing good things? By gaining knowledge and achieving enlightenment? Is it even possible to be saved? Or are you saved by faith and faith alone? Again, major differences.
Or how about who God is? I already mentioned that Christians believe Jesus is God, but what else? Is there one God, no God, or multiple gods? Atheism—which is itself a religion and makes its own claims—believes there is no God. Some Hindus believe in thousands of gods. Mormons believe that every male has the potential to become a god. Those are major differences.
While different religions may be superficially similar, they are fundamentally different.
Not the other way around. They are not superficially different and fundamentally the same. They are superficially similar and fundamentally different.
Greg Laurie is that pastor of a church in California as well as an author and television host. He’s also served on the board of directors for the Billy Graham Association and for Samaritan’s Purse, and he has written..
“Maybe you've had someone say to you, ‘Well, all religions basically say and teach the same thing. They're all true. And besides, if a person is really sincere in what they believe, they'll get to heaven.’ This type of fuzzy, illogical, politically correct thinking is typical of so many today – making the most important decisions of life on the basis of feelings and opinions. …
“The great world religions do not all teach the same thing. And I say that with respect for all people to believe what they choose to believe. We don't need to vilify, threaten or attack one another. We need a civil discourse, and we need to agree to disagree. But on the other hand, let's not foolishly say every religion is teaching the same thing, because they are not.”
~ Greg Laurie
from the article, “Do All Roads Lead to God?”
For the complete article, visit http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=50293#ixzz1Do5kTtRZ
So what it comes down to is this: Either one faith is true and all the others are wrong, or they are all wrong. But they cannot all be right.
Listen—if another religion would have done the job, then Jesus never would have come and suffered and died like He did. I mean, do you really think that Jesus being God would have given it all up and made Himself nothing, suffered ridicule and persecution, been whipped to within an inch of His life, allowed a crown of thorns to be pressed into His skull, had spikes hammered through His wrists and His feet, and died on the cross… would have gone through all of that just to say, “You can follow me. Or if you prefer, you can follow that path over there. It doesn’t really matter which way you choose.”
It’s like crossing the street. I’m trying to teach my three-year-old son Nate to look both ways before crossing the street. Because it’s either the bus or it’s him. It’s not both.
It’s either this faith, or it’s that faith, but it can’t be all faiths. As Jesus said…
John 10:9 (NLT)
“Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.”
So is Jesus the gate? Is He the only way? Was He telling the truth when He Himself said that no one comes to the God the Father except through Him? I believe He was. Either He is the one and only way, or He’s no way at all. But He’s certainly not one of many ways. Jesus simply has not left that option open to us.
Now, we do need to be gentle and respectful when it comes to discussing other religions and interacting with people who believe something different than we do. But that does not mean that whatever someone wants to believe is right for them. What it does mean is that we need to better understand what we believe and why we believe it, so we can respond with clarity when people ask us about it or raise these kinds of objections.
Copyright © 2011 Greg Hanson