Q: Why do Christians believe that their religion is the only true faith of the living God? Aren''t there other ways to God other than Christianity? Did Jesus Christ claim that he is the only way to God?
A: Christians believe that Jesus is the only way foremost because this is what Jesus taught. It is not something they came up with as an idea. It is not that Christians belief their own ideas about God are better than the ideas of God that others have; this would rightly be called arrogant and narrow-minded. The teaching of Jesus are held to be more than teachings of a man or a prophet because Jesus claimed He was God Himself incarnate in human form. This raises the teachings of Jesus beyond the level of competition among other religions claims by men, if Jesus is who he claims to be.
Let me give you a small sampling of the claims of the Bible regarding Jesus’ divinity:
1. First, there are statements in the Bible Jesus himself makes:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (This passage identifies Jesus as the word)
John 10:30 I and the Father are one.
John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:7 If you really knew me you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.
John 14:8-9 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.
2. Secondly, there are the reactions of those listening to Jesus who openly stated he was claiming to be divine:
John 5:18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own father, making himself equal with God.
John 8:58 I tell you the truth, Jesus said, before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him…
3. Thirdly, there are the inferences in the Bible that imply his divinity:
John 6: 35 I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 8:46 Jesus claims to be without any sin
John 11:25 I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live, even though he dies.
4. Fourthly, there are the statements of the Bible that openly and clearly express his divinity:
Mt 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” (Jesus commended him for this answer)
Acts 4:12 1Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Colossians 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form
1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Heb 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
This is a sampling of the texts, including some of the clearest ones. It should be noted though that there are many more.
The usual problem people have with Jesus and His claims is a sense of seeming exclusivist. This is particularly true when compared with a seemingly more open worldview such as Hinduism which claims to accept all roads to God. However, it should be noted that the claim to acceptance of all ways to God is merely an appearance. Let me explain.
If person says “Only one way leads to God,” another says, “Three ways lead to God,” and another says, “All ways lead to God,” they are each making an exclusive claim. The person who says “Only one way leads to God,” is clearly making an exclusive claim. The person who says, “Three ways lead to God,” is making an exclusive claim as well by merely saying there are three ways and excluding the hundreds of other possible ways that have been set forth. However, the person who says, “All ways lead to God,” is making just as much an exclusive claim. When they say this, let us suppose there are actually 789 ways that have been set forth that lead to God by men. The person who says only one way leads to God is therefore rejecting 788 ways. The person who says three ways lead to God is rejecting 786 ways, but also is rejecting that 2 ways lead to God, or that one way leads to God. He is also rejecting 788 ways to God. When we get the person who says that “All ways lead to God,” we find that they are actually rejecting the same number of ways as everyone else. They would deny that one way leads to God, 2 ways, three ways, etc. They are actually rejecting 788 ways as well. They are just as exclusive as any other world view.
It gets a little more complicated that this, in that there are the possibilities of a significant possible numbers of combinations of possible ways to lead to God. The point that is key is that when a person says “All ways lead to God,” is rejecting that anything short of ‘all ways’ leads to God. Even they mediated this by saying that “All ways that are loving and just lead to God,” they are still eliminating all views outside of this, and are also demanding a certain set of ‘ways’ they consider to be loving and just.
Many people have also pointed out the logical fallacy of accepting claims that are necessarily opposite. If one person says “Only X can teach us the truth about God that can save men,” we cannot accept at the same time, “Only Y can teach us the truth about God that can save men.” These logically cannot coexist. Some might say, “They are trying their hardest to understand God and we accept that even though their views are contradictory, they are both ways to God by merit of their trying hard.” This however, would be better stated as “Anyone who tried hard is on a path to God.” This of course would have problems and limitations from paths in which there is implied that people need not try hard to find God.
A greater problem with the “All ways lead to God,” is the problem of the change produced by taking a singular world view and forcing it into an “All roads lead to God” world view, and the violence that is done to the world view in the process. If one world view, like Christianity, believes that only Jesus can save men from their sins and lead the way to God, this one way cannot be made inclusive and still be the same world view. Let me give an illustration to try to show this truth. Let us say a woman believes in monogamous marriage and marries one man who likewise believes the same thing and they marry with the intent to be faithful to each other alone for life. Then the woman meets another man who believes in marrying multiple partners. Let us say further that this man wants to make her one of his brides. She says, “I cannot be your wife, for I am married to my husband already and I believe in only one husband.” He would reply, “That is OK, I can marry you anyway, for I believe in multiple marriages.” She says, “That still does not agree with me.” He says, “That’s OK, you can believe as you wish and I will believe as I wish…please marry me.” The truth is that even if the man marries her, her viewpoint is not accepted, but violated. By insisting on her marrying him, he is not being open minded, but would be violating her belief in one man. In the same way, what happens if a person believing “one way leads to God” is told by an “all paths lead to God” person that they can “marry” these world views? It is not an act of acceptance of his world view, but actually an act of violation of his world view.