Time to Think 10. Christians are narrow minded to claim that ‘Jesus is the only way to God’

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A Response to the Objector

In response to your objection that ‘Christians are narrow-minded by claiming that Jesus is the only way to God’, I realize that this might probably be one of the most offensive elements of Christianity. I would, therefore, like to share with you the basis for this Christian claim. I think that the claim is reasonable, just, fair, and defensible. Though, in today’s pluralistic society, this claim can certainly be seen as audacious and politically incorrect, implicating that those who do not believe in Christ will go to hell. Some might even be of the opinion that such a view can encourage hate crimes – ‘You, Christians, think you are better because only you know the truth and the only way to heaven’ – this can cause certainly negative feelings.

I would like to address your objection under four key headings.

1. Why do Christians hold this belief?

  • does Scripture teach it

2. Why would Jesus Christ be the Only Way?  

  • moral failure and guilt
  • what about good, moral, sincere people?

3. What about other religions?

  • are they not all basically the same, just different paths to God?

4. What about those who never heard?


My response:

1. Why do Christians hold this belief?

Does the Bible teach this? There are at least one hundred verses in the New Testament that, explicitly or implicitly, expressed either by Jesus or the disciples, that communicate this teaching. ‘Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.’1 and Peter said ‘There is salvation in no One else!’2

Greg Koukl gives nine lines of argument that Jesus is the only way to salvation supported by the hundred scripture verses in his book ‘Jesus the Only Way’3These scripture supported arguments are, 1.  Jesus is the only source of salvation for the world 2. Jesus is the Father’s choice 3. Rejection of Jesus is a rejection of the Father 4. Rejection of Jesus brings judgment and wrath; belief in Jesus rescues from wrath 5. Jesus is the one who provides forgiveness of sin. 6. Many imposters will claim to provide other ways of salvation 7. There are no alternatives for salvation 8. All nations are to be given this Gospel 9.  Jesus will be man’s judge on the final day.

Christians believe the Bible as the word of God. This makes it impossible for a Christian not to believe that Jesus is the only way. But what is the basis for this teaching, these statements in the Bible?

The Bible teaches that people are dying from sin and the Bible conveys the message for the cure. I realize the Gospel is offensive enough to the world, but Christians cannot remove this ‘offensive’ doctrine of sin inherent to the Gospel, or Christianity will no longer have a message. Sin is the problem. Jesus Christ the solution. Why this belief and why is Christ the only answer?

All religions believe their way is the true way but contradict each to such an extent that only one or none can be true. It is not reasonable to pick and choose certain aspects from each religion and for individuals to form their own ideas of truth. The God of the Bible has always been narrow but so are all other religions in what they believe. Christians believe we can inherit eternal life, that is, will be in the loving presence of the personal eternal God, through the grace of repentance and the forgiving of our sins through Christ. Muslims inherit eternal life through good works that outweigh the evil that man has done in life. Neither the Hindu faith nor Buddhism teaches an afterlife but a state of having escaped the ‘this troubled life’. Through ‘enlightenment’ of the individual in Buddhism. In Hinduism liberation means the deliverance of individual souls (atman) from Samsara or the cycle of births and deaths. It is a complex, transformative process that requires the cleansing of the mind and body, the overcoming of duality, delusion, and egoism, and achieving oneness with the Self or Brahman. Thus, not only do the major religions contradict each other in the way to ‘salvation’ but are also very different in what the end goal means and will be. In all major religions sin, moral failure is central to what will happen to the soul.

2. Why would Jesus Christ be the only way?

i. The identity of Jesus is central to Christianity. Not His teachings, but who He is. He drew the attention to His own identity. We read ‘Then He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”4 and Jesus was crucified for blasphemy. ‘Then the high priest said to Him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God.”- therefore, claiming to be God. Jesus answered in the affirmative and the high priest tore his clothes and said they needed no further evidence.5Blasphemy that deserved death.

ii. Jesus claimed to be God. That makes Him either Lord God, a liar, or a lunatic.6Making this claim, He is either right or wrong. If wrong, He either knew it or did not: (a) If He knew He was wrong, He lied. (b) If He did not know He was wrong but thought He was the only way to God, He was a lunatic. But if He was right, He is the Lord.

Was He a lunatic? Not a reasonable alternative: most people regard Jesus’ teaching as good and coherent. Was He a liar? If so, and we say He was a good man but lied about who He was, it makes no sense. Therefore, if He was neither a liar nor a lunatic, He was the Lord.

iii. In the eyes of the world sin is probably the second most offensive element of the Gospel. Sin, however, is totally tied to Christ as the only way, the reason for His birth into this world. No one is good and everyone needs Jesus Christ. Is this claim correct, you might ask? We are all aware of our moral failings and guilt. This is coherent and comprehensible to people. Maybe we feel guilty because we are guilty. We are aware of our brokenness, our moral failures. One might ask the question “Do you think people who commit moral crimes ought to be punished?” And then, “Have you and I ever committed moral crimes, maybe most of the time not so serious but also serious ones throughout our lives?” Moral crimes ought to be punished, in particular serious moral crimes. Agree? We are all guilty of moral crimes in our lives. We all need clemency. God made provision: Jesus Christ. ‘For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.’7‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.’8Our own experience of life convince us of our own moral guilt. Even if we try to live one single day without any moral failure in thoughts or deeds, we will realize there is a problem, and we fall short of God’s standard. But there is clemency. That is in one particular way only. Jesus Christ. God is fair. He has offered a way of pardon, and we are responsible to act or not. As a righteous God, a righteous Judge, He has to punish sin, moral failure, lest He is not righteous. Christ has taken our punishment onto Himself.

iv. I realize you might object and ask what about good, moral people? The good person, one who has never sinned, would not need Jesus. Since no one is good, we all need Jesus. God does not want any people to go to hell, but we are all guilty. God provides a way out. Now it is up to us. You might feel: “I have not committed that many sins.” Just because we do one thing right does not allow us to commit other wrongs. God is the highest perfect Being and His perfect justice requires perfection. And we know that over our lifetimes we are repeatedly guilty of moral failures. We are repeat offenders.

Jesus is the only way because He is the only One dealing with the problem of sin. Either you pay for your moral guilt or Jesus pays for it.

And what about sincere people? Sincerity is irrelevant if we break the law. Sincerity does not create truth. But seek the truth sincerely. And it will be found.9

3. What about other religions?

“All, religions are basically the same.” This is in reality said by people who do not have much knowledge about other religions. Religions are superficially the same but fundamentally very different as I have pointed out in 1. Different religions have different views of God, as well as what happens after we die. These views are mutually exclusive. All religions can simply not be true as they contradict each other in the most fundamental ways. That Jesus the only way is defensible. He is the only One dealing with sin. Every person is a repeat offender. Moral failure, the defiance of what we know is morally right, deserves punishment. And Jesus is God’s provision, the perfect God who takes our punishment unto Himself. The only way out of this predicament.

4. What about those who never heard?

This is certainly a reasonable concern. The assumption though, is that those who never heard the message of Christ, even if they would have wanted to know it, will go to hell. It assumes that there are millions of unevangelized who really want to know God but cannot, since they are isolated from the message. People born in the wrong place – and one might ask, is that just? We believe again that the Biblical answer is reasonable, just, and fair.

We need to look at five fundamental Biblical Truths in response.

i. God only punishes because of guilt – all are guilty. No one goes to hell because he never heard of Jesus, and no one goes to hell because he did not believe in Jesus. It is not the disbelief or ‘never heard’ why people go to hell: it is sin, not wrong belief but wrong behavior. God only punishes the guilty, sin. We read that we are judged by our deeds.10 Since we have all committed sin, we are judged justly if we are sent to hell. We go to hell because we break God’s law, not because of belief. No one goes to hell for not believing in Jesus. Instead, God sends people to hell for violating His moral law.

ii. God does not owe anyone a pardon. A judge is never obliged to pardon the guilty. Justice requires punishment, not pardon. Justice also requires that God would not send anyone to hell who is innocent. Forgiveness is not obligatory; that is why it is grace. Those who never heard stand before God just as they are: guilty. God can forgive who He wants, the rest, all, still deserve punishment. This is not ‘unfair’ because God has not hidden Himself from anyone.

iii. He does not hide Himself. ‘Forever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So, they have no excuse for not knowing God.’11‘In the past He permitted all the nations to go their own ways, but He never left them without evidence of Himself and His goodness. For instance, He sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts’12God reveals Himself through His Word, the Bible and through His works, nature.

iv. Humans do not seek God but run from Him. We read ‘people suppress the truth’13, and often go to great lengths to deny it and ‘exchange the truth for a lie’14Anyone who genuinely seeks God will receive the gospel of grace. For it is not because people cannot, but will not.

v. God actively seeks the human heart and He always responds to the seeking heart. ‘Come close to God, and God will come close to you.’15He loves us and wants no one to perish. ‘He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent.’16‘But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.’17God is doing something to draw them. So, He will give them what they need to be saved, i.e., the Gospel18 They need to be seeking God’s mercy due to their guilt. The God they discover will be the true God. Those who reject Jesus reject the true God, their only solution for their sins. Either He pays for our sins, or we do. William Lane Craig “God will judge us on the knowledge we have, even if we have never heard of Christ Jesus, like the gentile Job, who had a personal relationship with God but could never have heard of Jesus, yet was still saved through Christ’s sacrificial death’

In short: Christians believe that Christ is the only way to God, to eternal life, based on scripture, and on the reality of the moral guilt that we all experience, on the righteous of God who needs to punish sin because He is righteous. Jesus is the only One dealing with the sinful nature of man and took the guilt onto Himself. We cannot overcome our daily moral failures. We cannot stand perfect before God. Through grace, accepting what Christ has done, we are freed from our guilt and failures, it’s paid, and we can inherit eternal life.


1 John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

2 Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

3 Jesus, the Only Way: 100 Verses by Gregory Koukl June 10, 2009

4 Matthew 16:15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

5 Matthew 26:62-64 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

6 C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Pascal

7 Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard

8 Galatians 3:10. For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law

9 Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.

10 Revelation 20:12 … the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done

11 Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse

12 Acts 14:16-17 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.

13 Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness

14 Romans 1:25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…

15 James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you…

16 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord …. not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

17 Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

18 Acts 17:27 God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us.

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