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"Since you asked ..."

 

The following is part 1 of a two-part series on the exclusivity of Christianity.

 

Question: How can Christians be so arrogant and ignorant to say that their faith is the one true religion?

Paul Baxter

Answer: The short answer is Jesus the Christ; Jesus Who described Himself as “the way, the truth and the life” and “no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Before we take a closer look at what Jesus said, let us tackle the charges leveled against Christians. A sizable number of people agree with a 24-year-old New Yorker’s assessment: “It’s arrogant to say your religion is superior and try to convert everyone else to it. Surely all religions are equally good and valid for meeting the needs of their particular followers.” She accuses us of not only being arrogant about our religion but ignorant about other religions’ equal value.

R.C. Sproul tells about “one of the most embarrassing moments I ever experienced” which occurred in an English class during his freshman year. He describes it as “a time of painful public humiliation” at the hands of a professor who was “outwardly hostile to Christianity.”

She pointedly put him on the spot in front of the whole class when she asked: “Mr. Sproul, do you believe that Jesus is the only way to God?”

After he managed to mumble an affirmative answer she roasted him alive: “That’s the most narrow-minded, bigoted, and arrogant statement I have ever heard. You must be a supreme egotist to believe your religion is the only way.”

... we know that "different" religions differ and disagree with one another when it comes to basic beliefs about who God is ...

What happened to R.C. Sproul back in the 1960s is even more likely to occur today within our more pluralistic and syncretistic society.

What do we say today when accused of being an arrogant witness for Christ? We might ask this question: What is more arrogant, to assert that we can save ourselves by observing religious rules and rituals as a Muslim or Hindu, or as a Christian humbly confess that we are saved by God through His grace and mercy in spite of our sins? We as Christians have no reason to boast because our salvation is not rooted in what we do or don’t do but what Christ did for us through His unconditional, undeserved, self-effacing, and self-sacrificing love.

The second most common label affixed to Biblically Correct Christians is that we are not just narrow-minded, but closed-minded and downright ignorant! It is often said that we must know nothing about other religions; otherwise, we would see the value of using an ecumenical road map taught in many a Comparative Religions course.

Such maps clearly show how all religious roads lead to heaven, paradise, or nirvana. However, we must respectfully disagree because we know that “different” religions differ and disagree with one another when it comes to basic beliefs about who God is and where we are going in and beyond this life.

To take one striking example of our modern times: surely Islamic terrorists out to kill and maim their enemies so they can be sure of going to paradise are on a dramatically different course than Christian missionaries out to save and if need be die for their enemies so that their enemies might end up in heaven. Who can honestly say that such religious routes can fit on the same ecumenical map?

Christianity is like a square peg which cannot be squeezed into round holes. It just doesn’t fit well into any of the “religiously round” holes, not because some of its religious practices can’t be compared to other religions, but because the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is incomparable.

This brings us to a straightforward question: What is more ignorant, ignoring the conflicting and contradictory claims of differing religions in an effort to bring everyone together under an ecumenical tent, or refusing to ignore the claims of Christ Who separated Himself from every religion and everyone who has lived on earth with these words which we will examine next time: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to Father except through Me!”

 

Paul Baxter is senior pastor of First Baptist Church on the Square in LaGrange.