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March 12, 2013

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The entire New Covenant rings with the path to Salvation. When I first read the challenge, what popped into my mind was, “Narrow is the Gate”, and Matthew 7:14-15 is where I landed. I thought it was quite funny that Matthew 15 gives the warning to beware of false prophets.
So I guess I would begin by asking a few questions to get some more meat on the table. I would begin perhaps by asking where does scripture suggest that there is another way? I would ask what do they think is the reason Jesus came? I would begin my response with a heartfelt revelation of my heart that I wish I could agree, and I wish many people whom I love could be, will be or are with the Father who won’t be and are not for the very reason that they are not or were not believers in Jesus Christ. I would then begin to work the conversation toward a conclusion that this same compassion and desire that I have for people to know Jesus and know the Father is just a fraction of the Love the Father has for us and is the reason why He sent His Son.
Without trying to sound like a recording, I would try and work into the conversation some of the key points I stand on personally as my foundations of faith. For example, Jesus was always confronted by the Pharisees and I think of Jesus saying: “Only the sick need a doctor”. Jesus was continually bringing out the false righteousness of the religious leaders of the day. The people who responded to Jesus and eventually became followers were changed people. An observed physical, mental and spiritual change took place in the individual. I would ask this person thinks about the Holy Spirit. Where does He fit in? Without belief in Jesus Christ He cannot “come in”. The Holy Spirit will have no effect on the individual if they are still “blind and deaf”. I would ask about the passage that speaks about separating the sheep from the goats. How can all these things be disregarded?
I would try and work toward the teachings of Paul, where he points out how Salvation cannot be achieved, and finish up with how Paul states that if we think we can gain righteousness through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
I would ask how this person interprets Luke 13:23-25, and try to figure out how this can be disregarded also.
I think I would bring the conversation back to the beginning and re-visit the line in the sand scenario. I would state that the line is only drawn and cannot be crossed until the point of death. The point can be made that the greatest thing about Jesus is His relentless pursuit of us. He never draws the line while we are still living and breathing; we do the drawing of the lines in the sand. And Jesus will, can and does cross it every time we draw it. Proof of this is in every encounter Jesus had with “sinners”.
I would say that, personally, I cannot get passed the thinking that anyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ will come before the judgment throne and these condemning words will be spoken, “I never knew you”. I would end with the two others who were crucified with Jesus. One was going to be with Jesus in paradise and the other was not. What was the difference? One denied Christ, and the other saw, understood and acknowledged Jesus is the Son of God. In other words, he believed.
I realize that this might come off as a weak case, and I could be potentially eaten alive, but I think I could do a better job in the actual dynamic of the conversation. I am not good at typing my thoughts.

I'm fond of pointing out that there are over 100 passages teaching that Jesus is the only way to salvation. STR has a great booklet listing 100 of them, but there are many more.

That isn't what makes it true, of course -- his resurrection does that -- but it does mean that anyone claiming the name of Christ must hold to that explicit and supremely important teaching, among other essentials. Anyone who holds the opposite view isn't teaching something a little different from Christianity, but the opposite. We have a very specific term for people like them: Non-Christians.

I would ask if on his interpretation of the verse, it was necessary for Jesus to die on the cross. If so, why? Then I would ask what that act was meant to accomplish. The direction of the conversation would then be guided by the individual's response to those questions.

I'd like to know why they are so closed-minded and intolerant that they're not only demanding that their interpretation should be the only one heeded, but that they also are wanting to silence anyone who has a different interpretation.

I'd probably try to find a more gentle way of saying it, but that's really the bottom line here.

Start by asking a question: "Is that your line in the sand?"

The argument simply boils down to the author's interpretation versus the interpretation of others. Why does the author's interpretation win? Why should others stop claiming their interpretation and the author be free to advance their own?

I see an analogy here. What did Jesus offer. Access to the Father, the true God. Life in His name. Other religions make similar offers, but not exactly this which Jesus offers.

So I advance this notion. Your plumbing in the house is failing. Water flows in all directions except to the sink. The cold tap gives hot, and the hot tap gives nothing. And the toilet? Let's not go there. Who are you going to call? The doctor? The butcher? The baker? The candle-stick maker? Ghostbusters? Silly, silly, silly, silly. Only a licenced plumber will save the day.

Jesus offers essentially different things than what Islam, Hinduism, animism, and whateverelse, offers. Neil is correct in his point that Jesus backed up His claims on Easter.

The point is the irritating idea that Jesus' claim is exclusive. We must get past that concept. After all 1>0. To make Jesus one choice among many makes all equally unimportant and valuless. If Jesus can make this outrageous claim work, then all protests to the contrary are moot. Who is the Christ we claim alligance? Is God's Son, then "Jesus is the only way to heaven" is golden truth. If a social reformer, at best a quaint saying.

Which Messiah do you follow?

What Dan said above.

While the one who makes the assertion that Jesus cannot be the only way to salvation often accuse Christians of arrogance, the real arrogance is displayed by the one who as a sinner has rebelled against God’s sovereign rule, and has the audacity to then reject the salvation that God has provided by his own grace and good pleasure, and then demand that God grant salvation to them on their own terms, or even deny that they are in need of salvation at all. This person that says “It’s arrogant to say that your religion is the only true religion” arrogantly responds to the offer of Christ saying, “No, God must accept me and take me to heaven by my own preferred means.” To confess that Christ is the only savior is the humble thing to do because in doing so we abandon our personal preferences, submit to God’s sovereignty over us, and accept the means by which God has provided for our redemption – that being the sacrifice of Christ in our place. To deny that Christ is the only savior is superlatively arrogant toward God, for to reject Christ as God’s means of salvation is to demand (as though God owes us) that God accept us on our own terms. Religious pluralism also serves as the justification for privatized personal religious beliefs that are kept to one's self - After all, if all religious beliefs are the same and equally true, what's the point of sharing or persuading with others about them? Yet, a fundamental teaching of Christianity is that Christ commanded his followers to “Go and make disciples,” and therefore a Christianity that is kept personal and privatized is not Christianity. It is impossible to be a Christian and not be involved in some way with the proclamation of the Gospel to non-Christians and the making of disciples. As Charles Spurgeon said; “All Christians are either missionaries or imposters.” Therefore in essence, the person who demands Christians to keep their faith to themselves is demanding that Christians abandon their faith, and Christians who do keep their faith to themselves are likely not true Christians. In the push to privatize religion, people invoke religious pluralism as their justification for demanding that religious people “keep their religious views to themselves.” However the person making this claim is failing to realize that he/she is not keeping their religious views to him/herself, but rather is publicly expressing his/her religious views, and ironically, in such a manner that is actually attempting to persuade others that theirs is the superior view. Therefore, the person that publicly demands that religious views should be kept private should start holding themselves to their own standards and keep their religious views to themselves.

Everyone has said such great things. This was actually the least shocking of all the 6 things listed on the original article, actually.

It just shows an extreme lack of scholarship on the part of the writer, in every single case. And a bending of the knee to post-modern values. Very sad indeed.

Shame on HuffPost for allowing such a poorly researched opinion piece. Though I shouldn't be surprised.

There is at least one branch, an ancient branch, of Christianity--Eastern Orthodoxy--that says that all people do come to the Father. But if you come to the Father in your sin, there is a word for your state, and that word is "Hell". I believe the rest of Christianity believes that Hell is a merciful alternative to that fate.

My biggest problem with his statement is first, it's not logically sound.

The law of non contradiction states that two contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time. Since other religions claim exclusivity, only one can be true and all of the others are lying.

Secondly, he seems to be claiming that either Jesus is the only way or all of the other ways are the only way but that goes back to non contradiction.

Third, usually you can interpret Jesus words - unless it is contextually clear that He is using hyperbole or metaphor - exactly as He says it. So, if Jesus says "...no one comes to the father except through me" you can safely assume that He does mean that He is in fact the ONLY way. This is logically sound as it does not violate the law of identity or non contradiction.

I hate to get philosophical or logical about it but to me, when someone makes an objection to Christ's claims, I first check to see if the objection meets those criteria before I then point out the error in assuming the scripture is wrong or our interpretation is wrong.

I would start by asking what their interpretation of that verse is and the implication of such interpretation in their view of how God will save humanity from their sins.

I would simply ask the Columbo tactic question, "How did you come to that conclusion?" and maybe, "What is your definition of what it means to be 'Christian'"? and whether Christianity has any exclusive claims. Then I would follow it up with questions seeking clarification to try to tease out what other ways one can be Christian toher than be believing in the death, resurrection and atonement of Jesus.

The author is making a claim but he is offering no reason, argument or evidence to support it. I would look for a way to point out that the author is drawing a line in the sand that is also exclusive as he excludes the orthodox view that Jesus is God and is the only one who can redeem us. At some point, he either has to reveal his rejection of basic Christian creeds (Apostles Nicene) or begin to understand that he cannot have it both ways and be logically coherent.

I would also like to point out that this is not a matter of interpretation. It is a matter of truth.

I'm looking forward to the video because I can't see how we can answer it without relying on some extra-biblical source such as logic, reason, creeds, etc..

In this article Steve demonstrates his understanding of Jesus as being a sweet and kind individual only concerned about his disciples distress and well-being. He does not realize that he is knowingly sending most of them to martyrdom. Now how did he miss that?

My first question is “Exactly how DO you interpret that verse (and the verses around it for context, of course)”? How do they interpret Matthew 16:16? John 3:16? John 8:24? These (and many other verses) all are saying the same thing. It’s not my interpretation, it’s what’s written. Perhaps two people can read that and come up with two completely different interpretations, but are they equally valid.

From a secular view, you can give the example of two people run across an old ad for a car at a defunct dealership, along with the number 987-6789. One person says it’s the dealer’s phone number, the other person says it’s the inventory number of the car shown. Either “interpretation’ COULD be correct, but which would the dealer be MOST LIKELY to put in the ad? You might look for other ads from same dealer and compare the numbers, etc. If all else fails, simple reasoning dictates asking why a dealer would list a car’s inventory number but not provide contact information?

But this goes a step further. Here we see what Jesus says about himself. Is what he says, in fact, true? If it is, we’re fools to argue against it. If what he says is NOT true, then we have bigger problems than how to interpret a single verse.

"There are scores of Christians, however, and I am one of them, who do not interpret Jesus' words in John 14 the same way. Just because I do not makes me no less Christian than you are"

This actually makes you not a Christian at all.


But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. -Galatians 1:8

Hi, squallybimbadine

You say, 'This actually makes you not a Christian at all.'.

By what authority do you say that?

You quote Galatians 1.8, but who is the 'we' to whom you're inferring?

How do we know when someone's wrong in their interpretation, because to do that implies an authority of some sort, doesn't it? Surely it's not just compliance with the currently accepted majority opinion? What is there that definitively shows it's not just a clash of interpretations?

I'm struggling with this one, and so I'm glad it's a topic Alan's going to address!

My question would be "What do you mean by that?", followed by "What is your interpretation?"
I have met people who claim to be Christians but deny some of the miracles written in the Bible. Jesus walking on water comes to mind.

It's very important to study scripture and understand why/what it is we believe in. Only then can we understand what Jesus meant by saying He is the only way to heaven.

There are four things you can address right off the bat. First you can address the challenge that those who think that Jesus is the only way to God, think they are better then those who don't. I don't know of any christian who believes that, so that would be one way to go, by simply saying that you don't believe that.
Secondly,ask him the columbo questions. What do you think the verse is saying? And why would you think thats what Jesus meant? They're making the claim, and they need to support their assertion.
Thirdly, you can give the case for why Jesus made an exclusive claim about salvation by looking at the context of the passage itself. Jesus is with his disciples before his crucifixion telling them how he will be going to His Father's house and He will be preparing a place for them. Then Thomas says that they don't know where He is going nor how they can go there. So based on his ignorance Jesus responds in verse 6 on how they can meet him in His Father's house, and that is through Jesus alone. This reason will be evidence that Jesus certainly claimed an exclusive way of salvation.
A fourth way to go is to ask the person why they are a christian. Use questions to get them to grasp the truth that they need Jesus because they have a sin problem and Jesus is the only one qualified to fix the problem. Nobody else is in that position. Jesus is the only way because He's the only one fixed the problem.

Hi Dave.

You say, 'I have met people who claim to be Christians but deny some of the miracles written in the Bible.'

What makes their claim invalid if they think they are Christian but you don't (sorry, but that's what you seem to be implying)? Do you think they interpret Scripture wrongly, and if so, why is your interpretation correct and theirs wrong? How can I know who's interpretation is objectively correct? Why should I listen to your view and not theirs? Because, if I rely on reason or even a bible commentary, I'm just relying on mine or some other man's opinions, aren't I? Who's to say I'm right or the Commentary writer is right?

I know Christians who say Baptism is unnecessary you just need to pray the Sinner's Prayer, and your saved. Are they right? If not, who, or what, is the official judge?

Like a big church I know, there's not really membership as such. People just turn up and we all just worship together. No rules, just bible teaching from the people who started it.

But I struggle with this, because people say 'scripture' is their sole guide, but then proceed to give me an interpretation of what the verse(s) mean 'to them' when the verse(s) don't actually say what they are implying they do when taken literally, and the people they disagree with, do the same. Even if they both claim to be bible-believing Christians, they come to different conclusions.

I think Jesus is the only way, but I feel I have no authority to tell someone who doesn't believe that they're wrong, even if the Scriptures, to my mind, show he is, because he just might not be a bible-believing Christian.

The answer I've heard is 2 Tim 3.16, but that doesn't say what tell me it's saying: it doesn't say only Scripture is God breathed, but simply all scripture, and in v 14, it says 'But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.', which implies some authority, some teacher, doesn't it?

Arrgghhhh! I don't know who is right or who to trust! It all just seems man-made.

Peter Northcott

Christians believe that Jesus is God incarnate and their belief and faith in that truth has allowed them to be reborn (through Christ's sacrifice) and they are new creatures; children of God. The authority of that statement is found in the transcendent revelation of God (the Bible). Galatians 1:8 is referring to the brethren or apostles (like Paul). Ultimately anybody that preaches a contrary Gospel. The Gospel is the news of salvation through the Messiah (Christ).

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. I Thessalonians 2:13

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29

12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13

If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

I could go on, but basically the entire Bible is about Jesus and ultimately God redeeming His people, the elect.

Hi, squallybimbadine

Thanks for the great verses!

But isn't everyone preaching contrary Gospels, or else there wouldn't be denominations? We would all be one?

Isn't it the case that many people are in good standing in their denomination and yet do not believe the Bible is right about many things - the homosexual issue, for example - and it's was just for their times, back then?

For example, I heard someone say about 2 Tim 3.16 - that it says all scripture is useful, but not only scripture is useful - and, as I mentioned above about 2 Tim 3.14. What is that all about - in the light of 1 Tim 3.15? Where it says that the Church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth, and 2 Tim 3.14 seems to align more with 1 Tim 3.15?

Where is that Church? Is one of them more right than the others?

My problem isn't with Jesus being the only way, but whose teachings about Jesus? I was baptised as a baby but does that count? Some say it doesn't, and I need adult Baptism. Others say I just need to give my life to Christ.

They would say that believing in infant baptism is just my own interpretation, won't they? Or, be even more uncharitable, and say it's not Christian. How am I to know who's telling the truth, other than submitting it to a proof-text shoot-out or reason - which is using human judgement?

I've come to compare baptisim with a wedding ring. Im married regardless if I wear it or not. Its to show the world that I belong to Christ.

My wife was raised catholic and baptised as a baby. Since we've been married she has come to really know Christ and has brought up the issue if she should be baptised again. I ask her if it was her choice to be baptised when she was a baby and if she? She has been meaning to be baptised again but jus hasnt gotten around to it. I do encourage her whenever our church is doing a large baptisim.

Here is a thought: is it the act of going into the water that baptises or when you accept Christ that you are baptised in the Holy Spirit? I think the latter.

Peter

There are contrary Gospels being preached, but not everyone is preaching them.  Denominations aren't all divided based on the Gospel.  Some are and some aren't.  Truth does not change based on people's interpretation of it.  You have to pray for guidance and the ability to understand more deeply certain aspects of the Christian faith, but the Gospel is simple.  Baptism is a spiritual thing, but represented in the baptism that we are familiar with (being immersed in water) is an outward sign of the inner change.  Infant baptism is a different angle on the same concept, but more on the "promise" platform (Abraham and his seed).  The Church is not just a group of ideas or people or the building they gather in.  It is those who believe in the promise of salvation through the propitiation of sin as acquired by Christ's substitutionary atonement.

If a group of math students in a math class get different answers for the same math problem does that mean that there is no right answer to the problem?  Truth is not subjective.

God's message is clear.  Sin in our lives messes up our reception of it.  It's kinda like a car radio with static from reception problems.  The radio station is sending out a clear signal, but the radio is not receiving it.

Scripture is God's revelation to us, but He can communicate other ways and does.
The Bible should be interpreted in a holistic way; it coincides and cooperates with itself.  There are no internal flaws or doctrinal conflicts in it.

...Let God be true though every one were a liar....  

"My problem isn't with Jesus being the only way, but whose teachings about
Jesus?"

I would have to say the Bible's teachings about Jesus. The presentation of Christ in the Bible is consistent.

I would say this: Why did Jesus have to die?
I there is another way to God, then the bloody death of jesus on the Cross was a cruel, superfulous act...In the garden of Gethsemine, Jesus said if it be possible, take this cup from me...if there was another way to God..right there it would have been revealed.
Also, if people are offended by Jesus being the only way, it is Jesus they have a problem with, not Christians, it's not our message, it's His.

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