Jesus, The Only Way? How Dare They!

Jesus, the only way? How dare they!
by Alex McFarland

 

In an editorial which ran on news wire services nationally, columnist Kathleen Parker chided Franklin Graham for standing up for his Biblical convictions. Parker took issue with some of his comments from a recent USA Today interview (in which Graham affirmed the historically orthodox position that Jesus Christ is, indeed the only way of salvation). Parker notes that increasing numbers within our culture (and especially among young adults), people wonder, "Why do Christians claim that belief in Jesus is the only way to heaven? Couldn't God just make it so that every one, you know, "gets in"?"

This is an issue that every generation of Christians must deal with. It seems like more than ever, those outside the church bristle at the idea of Jesus being the only Savior. A headline from 2008 announced what numerous other surveys have confirmed, "Christianity Panned By 16-29 Year Olds." Studies show that many young people view Christians as being narrow, judgmental, and too exclusive in their truth claims. Or, as a college student recently said to me, "I just don't accept the idea anymore that there can be only one way to heaven."

 

Christianity and Pluralism Contrasted

It is sometimes assumed that all of history's religious leaders were pointing people to the same God. But this is not the case. Buddha, Krishna, Confucious - and countless others - have all set forth ideas about God which contradict one another. Islam's Quran teaches that there is one God. The Hindu Upanishads teach that there are many gods. Other philosophies assert that everything is God. All of the concepts from the differing scriptures can't all be true simultaneously.

It should be pointed out that the narrow position, "Jesus is the only way to heaven," comes to us from...Jesus. I often say that Jesus was either the world's greatest truth-teller or history's greatest blasphemer. In verses such as Matthew 26:64-65, Mark 14:62-64, and Luke 22:66-71, Jesus asserted Himself to be Deity, that is, God. Further, Jesus said that people would die spiritually if they did not entrust their souls to Him (John 8:24). If Jesus were correct about these things and was saying what He did in order to point souls to salvation, He should be praised as the noblest truth-teller.

There is no evidence that Jesus was mistaken about His identity, nor was He intentionally trying to mislead His followers. Jesus' two-fold, core message was that He is history's promised Savior and that the spiritual destiny of all people hangs on their response to Him. Jesus claimed attributes for Himself that are appropriate only to God, and made other self-disclosures as well:

 

Matthew 23:34- He said that He was the One who sent prophets to Israel.

Mark 2:10- He is able to forgive sin

Luke 4:21 and John 5:39- Jesus referred to Himself as the fulfillment of Scripture

John 8:36- Jesus can truly set people free

John 8:42- Jesus came from God

John 8:58- Jesus is eternal

John 10:30- Jesus had the same nature as God the Father

John 13:13- Jesus affirms that He is Lord

John 14:6- Jesus says that He is the only way to God

John 14:9- If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father.

 

Christians (like followers of other religions) think that their beliefs are true. Some cry "foul" over the fact that Christians recognize Jesus to be the only way. But skeptics should recognize that contradictory truth claims cannot all be true at the same time. For example, history says that Jesus was crucified, yet Islam teaches that Jesus was not crucified. It cannot be true that Jesus both was crucified and was not crucified. Was Jesus correct or incorrect regarding the claims He made about Himself? He could not both be the Savior and not be the Savior.

The evidence overwhelmingly points to the legitimacy of Christ's claims. Jesus' unique claims about Himself were accompanied by miraculous deeds and a sinless life. Those who accept what He said and did are justified in doing so.

 

History's "Headliner" - Jesus Christ

I often attend large conferences and concerts which feature multiple stages to accommodate the speakers and bands. At such events it is common to hear people ask of their favorite artist, "Are they on the main stage, or in one of the "breakout" areas?" The main stage is usually reserved for the performers and presenters who can draw the largest crowds.

In each of our lives, Jesus deserves to always be "main stage." Top billing belongs only to Him. Following Jesus is both a privilege and an obligation- and He's entitled to our utmost allegiance. Claims about Jesus' exclusivity are mere prattlings by those wishing to force their subjective preferences on others. Christ's claim to be the unique Savior was coupled with several unparalleled examples of confirmation: His prophesied coming, sinless life, miraculous deeds, unique teachings, and physical resurrection.

G.K. Chesterton observed that Jesus' coming trumps the words and works of all other religious leaders. He said, "No one else [but Jesus] has any good news, for the simple reason that no one else has any news." Only one way? Of course. For Jesus to be the way to heaven is logically possible, Scripturally precedented, and historically verified. Jesus is the focal point of history, and deserves the same preeminence in our hearts and lives as well.