Is God’s grace limited to the relatively few who, often through accidents of time and geography, happen to have responded to the gospel? No, certainly not.
–Clark Pinnock, “More Than One Way?”
The late Clark Pinnock was a leading proponent of evangelical inclusivism, but when that idea is taken to its logical conclusion it is no different than popular culture’s concept of religious pluralism (all faiths lead to god and heaven). While the following definition of inclusivism tugs at ones heartstrings for acceptance, it cannot be true based on what we have learned so far. See if you can find a problem with this view:
Inclusivism asserts that while one set of beliefs is absolutely true, other sets of beliefs are at least partially true. It stands in contrast to exclusivism, which asserts that only one way is true and all others are in error. However, Religious Inclusivism takes this definition one step further to mean that God is also present in non-Christian religions to save adherents through Christ. It is God in Christ who reaches out to the individual in his own personal religious history to save him.
The popular view of religious pluralism includes this idea of inclusiveness. Many people are drawn to that because of the diversity in our culture, and rightly so. However, last week we saw that in reality all religions make exclusive claims and promote that they have exclusive truth, but according to the rules of logic they cannot all be true at the same time and even belief in religious pluralism is belief in an exclusive truth claim.
Christianity, by its definition, is making an exclusive claim to truth. If we are followers of Christ, then we must be followers of what He taught. Today, religious pluralism, inclusivism, and political correctness has changed what Jesus said in John 14:6 from, “I am the way, the truth and the life” to ‘I am a way, a truth and a life.’ The Bible is very clear on the teachings of Jesus and there are many passages that support His exclusive claims:
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” 1 Timothy 2:5
The important distinction here is that the claim is exclusive, but the invitation is inclusive:
“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Acts 13:47
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesian 2:4-10
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” Titus 2:11
Christianity’s Jesus is unique in many ways, and when compared to leaders or founders of other faiths we find that He stands out as the only who made the claim to be God incarnate, the only one who took all our sins to the cross, and the only one who defeated death through His Resurrection:
|Baha’i||Baha’u’llah||Prophet||Bring oneness and peace|
|Buddhism||Buddha||Enlightened one||Lead others to Nirvana|
|Christianity||Jesus||God Incarnate||Redeem humankind|
|Confucianism||Confucius||Ethical teacher||Build a moral society|
|Hinduism||Krishna||Divine avatar||Be a hero of the people|
|Islam||Muhammad||Final prophet||Communicate the will of Allah|
|Jainism||Mahavira||Great hero||Teach asceticism|
|Judaism||Moses||Prophet of YHWH||Communicate the will and law of YHWH|
|Shintoism||Kami (mythical gods)||Symbols||Find peace with nature|
|Sikhism||Nanak||Prophet||Union with god|
|Taoism||Lao-Tzu||Sage||Teach the Tao (way)|
|Zoroastrianism||Zoroaster||Prophet||Communicate the will of Ahura-Mazda|
*Above chart and information from Kenneth Richard Samples’ book: God Among Sages
Christianity is exclusive among all others because Jesus is the only one who came to solve the problem of human suffering and sin, and only He brought hope for the future.
- Jesus is the only one who claimed to be the Son of God and proved it through his ministry, miracles and resurrection
- Jesus is the only one who fulfilled all of the prophecies given hundreds of years before his time
- Jesus is the only one who brought not just mercy (forgiveness of debt), but grace (a gift of eternal life)
- Jesus is the only one who said it is done so that we do not have to do anything to earn salvation and entrance into Heaven
Christianity is inclusive because all are welcomed into the family of God through His Son Jesus and there is nothing we can do to earn it. Jesus said to the thief on the cross: “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) The thief did not have time to do anything except to cry out (with a sincere heart) to be taken into His Kingdom.
How can we know if Christianity’s exclusive claims are true?
In previous posts we looked at the importance of truth and how to determine truth objectively. If we examine the major world religions and what they teach we can eliminate those that do not fit the correspondence theory of truth, in other words, we can put the claims of each up against a reality test and evidentially eliminate any faith that believes in multiple gods, or no god at all, cutting the possibility for objective truth in a belief system down to the three monotheistic faiths: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. But, can we take it down to one?
The evidence for the one true God of the Christian Bible is overwhelming. Evidence is available not only from within the Bible, like prophecy fulfillment and miracles, but evidential support can be found in masses about the Bible and what it teaches: We can test its historical accuracy and find that it is consistently confirmed; we can use textual criticism comparing tens of thousands of early manuscripts and finding no discrepancies in doctrine and narratives; we can cite archeological support for over 25,000 people, places and events with none ever contradicting a Biblical account; there is documented accurate transmission of the Biblical text over time; and there is an abundance of primary eyewitness accounts.
The evidence, both internal and external, cuts the choice for objective truth down to only one: Christianity
Some common arguments against Christianity’s exclusive claims and how we can answer them: (from Jonathan Morrow’s “Impact 360”)
- “People in other religions are so sincere.”
- There are devout sincere people of many faiths, but people can be devoutly and sincerely wrong
- Sincerity is not a test for truth
- Sincere faith in an improperly packed parachute won’t matter – we must be diligent in our preparation for eternity
- “Christians are arrogant for claiming Jesus is the only way.”
- Arrogance is not a test for truth, the question should be: Is it true; is what I believe true?
- Arrogance is a description of an individual, not whether or not they have the truth
- Truth is discovered, and Christians are claiming to have investigated and discovered the truth by looking at the evidence
- “Exclusive religious claims have lead to war, violence and oppression.”
- There have been more wars in history over politics, ethnicity and power than there have been over religion
- True Christians do not lay claim to people in history that used Christianity for their own agendas
- Religion is not the fundamental problem, people are—something is deeply wrong with the human heart and that is the root of all of the wars and oppression in history, and Christianity has the best answer for the solution to that problem
When you closely examine the life and teachings of Jesus and His followers you will see the true essence of Christianity emerge.
-Jonathan Morrow, Biola University Professor
- Compare and contrast Christianity’s exclusive claim with the idea of inclusiveness. Which one matches reality when taken to their logical conclusions?
- Review the three arguments against Christianity’s exclusive claim (by Jonathan Murrow). In your own words summarize a quick answer for each one.
- Prayer focus: Thankfulness that Jesus is the only way according to Scripture and the fact that God’s grace is available to all.
Join us next week as we examine the most important question Jesus asked of His disciples: “Who do you say that I am?”
Please continue to pray for God’s peace and comfort that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:4-7) for Nabeel Qureshi’s family, and the continued ministry of his wife Michelle. In God’s will and Jesus’ Name always we pray, Amen.
You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in! Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.
Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.
Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.
1 Peter 3:15