Monday, March 31, 2014

Is Jesus the Only Way?

Have you ever been infuriated by someone who insisted their favorite sports team was better than yours? For the most part, these things are a matter of preference, so any argument that one franchise is historically and exclusively better than all the others is just someone's opinion.

But is the same true in religion?  Is religion a matter of preference, or is it a matter of what is really and actually true?  If it is simply a matter of preference, then the common claim that Christians are arrogant because they claim Jesus is "the only way" may hold some water.

But if the question of religion is a question about what is real and true, and addresses concerns about the way the world really is, then claims to exclusivity are not arrogant; they are instead statements about the way the world really could be.  In other words, if Jesus Christ really is the exclusive Messiah of the one true God, then saying "Jesus is the only way" is neither arrogant nor modest; it is simply the truth.

Anyone saying that such a claim denigrates the other religions of the world (because how can we say that when all religions lead to God) is actually, in a backhanded way saying that Christianity is false.  But it goes even further: an underlying assumption of this pluralist way of thinking is that each religion is just a matter of preference.  But this is not fair, as nearly every religion claims to be itself  objectively true!  So saying that all religions are a matter of preference and thus should all be taken as equally true is the same as saying all are equally false.

Of course, the problem gets worse for the religious pluralist: the claim that all religions lead to God is itself an exclusive (and thereby arrogant, if you are playing by their rules) claim.  This is because the pluralist claims to have "special" knowledge (how could they know all religions lead to God?), and indeed, this knowledge goes against the central tenets of most major religions.

So I will continue to unashamedly say that Jesus is the only way.