Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is Jesus the Only Way?

Is Jesus Christ the only way to salvation? Compare and contrast how Joel Osteen and Greg Koukl answer this question. Then ask yourself, "Which is more biblical?"

Joel Osteen:

video

Greg Koukl:

video

Why Only One Way?

Why is there only one way to God? Simple: there is only one God. And there is only one human race. And there is only one problem between God and man: sin. And there is only one mediator between God and man who takes care of our sin problem: the God-man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

Asking why Jesus is the only way to God is sort of like asking why a diabetic needs insulin. Diabetics need insulin because diabetes is a very specific problem with a very specific cure. If a diabetic were to say, "But I don't want to take insulin for my diabetes. I want to take chocolate syrup," we may rightly respond, "But chocolate syrup isn't going to take care of your diabetic problem."

In like manner, mankind suffers from a very specific disease: sin. And this disease has a very specific cure: Jesus Christ. Neither Buddha, nor Muhammad, nor any other religious figure takes care of the sin problem. Saying you prefer Buddha or Muhammad to Jesus in the realm of religion is like saying you prefer chocolate syrup to insulin as a cure for diabetes. Neither Buddha nor Muhammad suffered the wrath of God and solved the sin problem by paying the sin debt.

What About Sincerity?

But doesn't sincerity count for anything? No, it doesn't. Sincerity doesn't count any more in religion than it does in politics, economics, math, or science. You can sincerely believe something and at the same time be sincerely wrong. What matters is whether or not your beliefs correspond with reality. Sincerely believing you have a million dollars in your bank account or that 2+2=5 in no way alters the reality of the situation. And sincerely believing in a false religious system can no more save you than sincerely believing that chocolate syrup can save you from diabetes. Truth in religion matters.

Isn't This Narrow-Minded?

But isn't this narrow-minded? No, it's not. Narrow-mindedness has more to do with how a person believes than what a person believes. Let me explain. If I were to shut my mind off to all alternative options, refuse to listen to anyone else, and exercise blind faith in what I believe, than perhaps I may be accused of narrow-mindedness. But there is a difference between being narrow-minded and being narrow. All truth, by definition, is narrow. All truth claims exclude opposing and contradictory views. Even the statement "Truth is not narrow" excludes the statement "Truth is narrow."

In fact, isn't this exactly what Jesus said? In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus states, "Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Imagine someone calling me narrow-minded because I make the claim that diabetics need insulin. Of course, this is narrow, but not narrow-minded. Likewise, saying "Jesus is the only way" is in fact narrow, but not narrow-minded. Calling people "narrow-minded" is easy. Name-calling is always easier than intellectual engagement. But rejecting the message of Jesus because it is narrow is just as silly as rejecting the narrow message of insulin for your diabetes.

What Did Jesus Say?

Most importantly, Jesus Himself claimed to be the only way in John 14:6: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me." This message is consistently taught and repeated throughout the rest of the New Testament (Luke 10:16, 12:8-9; John 3:18, 3:36, 5:23b, 6:28-29, 8:24, 10:7-8b; Acts 4:12, 16:30-31; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:23, 5:11-12). The apostles certainly were not afraid to speak the truth of this message as it seems Joel Osteen is in the above video. We have to realize that the gospel is offensive (1 Peter 2:8). This doesn't mean we present the truth in an obnoxious matter. But it does mean that the message of the gospel is inherently offensive to the self-righteous, prideful, and depraved mind of unregenerate mankind.

Christians who repeat this message aren't making it up out of thin air because they want to be annoying, prideful, or arrogant. They are simply being faithful to the teachings of their Lord. Therefore, when people object or become contentious with the idea that "Jesus is the only way," it is not Christians they have a problem with but Jesus Himself.

3 comments:

Michelle said...

AMEN and AMEN!

Great explanations.

I saw that original Joel interview and Dennis and sat there dumbfounded - he had the PERFECT opportunity to speak the truth and proclaim Christ and he wimped out.

Such a contrast to when MacArthur is with the king! ;o)

Thanks for your posts!
Michelle

Anonymous said...

There is an obvoius logical flaw in this argument. Diabetes is a disease that can be scientifically identified and the treatment (insulin) is currently the only treatment that can be scientifically validated.

Sin is not a disease, it is characterization of human conduct most people deplore. Jesus is not a scientific treatment for anything and He cannot be validated as such.

If a diabetic does not take insulin (or some other medical treatment) he will die and the reason he dies is fully understood using scientific principle.

If a sinner does not accept Jesus, there is no proof that anything bad will happen to him here or hereafter.

It is just as likely that Allah, Buddah or whoever is the only method of dealing with sin if one relies on the argument that you make.

Aaron said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for your comments and thoughts. I would like to say several things in response.

"There is an obvoius logical flaw in this argument."

There is no logical flaw here, but let's see what you have to say...

"Diabetes is a disease that can be scientifically identified and the treatment (insulin) is currently the only treatment that can be scientifically validated."

I'm with you so far...

"Sin is not a disease, it is characterization of human conduct most people deplore."

I am not claiming sin is a disease in the same way that diabetes is. I am using the diabetic problem and insulin solution as an analogy to the sin problem and Jesus solution. If you don't like the analogy that is fine but there is no "logical flaw" here unless it comes from a misunderstanding of my position.

"Jesus is not a scientific treatment for anything and He cannot be validated as such.

I never made the claim Jesus is a scientific treatment so this is a straw man.

Furthermore, correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to be adopting a position of scientism, which is self-refuting. Science is not the only thing that gives us knowledge nor can it prove such. If you are trying to disprove Jesus on scientific grounds you are trying to weigh a chicken with a yard stick. I would argue for the validity of Christ on historical, not scientific, grounds.

"If a diabetic does not take insulin (or some other medical treatment) he will die and the reason he dies is fully understood using scientific principle."

I'm with you so far...

"If a sinner does not accept Jesus, there is no proof that anything bad will happen to him here or hereafter."

This is an assertion, not an argument. And this is entirely dependent on what you mean by "proof." I think there is plenty of evidence for the life, teaching, and resurrection of Christ. There is also ample evidence for the existence of the soul and the afterlife. Have you looked into these areas?

Furthermore, the truthfulness of this analogy is ultimately dependent on the truthfulness of the Christian faith. If Jesus was who He claimed to be and if mankind really does have a sin problem than you need to take this seriously. I think you should start your investigation with these areas first.

"It is just as likely that Allah, Buddah or whoever is the only method of dealing with sin if one relies on the argument that you make."

Again, this is an assertion, not an argument. If you would like to make a case for Allah or Buddha I am all ears.

And I am still failing to see exactly where the logical flaw in my post is. I am not using this analogy to argue for the truthfulness of Christianity. I am simply offering it as an explanation as to why Christians say Jesus is the only way and why it makes perfect logical sense given the Christian worldview. I also am interested in offering responses to common slogans such as "That's narrow-minded" or "Yeah, but I'm sincere."

Again, if you do not like the analogy that is fine. But even if my analogy is a bad one that has nothing to do with whether or not Christianity is true.