Why is Jesus the Only Way?
by Jay Medenwaldt
Christianity is often criticized because it claims to be the only way to God and the only way to heaven. John 8:24 says, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (NASB). Unlike many of the popular salvation verses (John 3:16, etc.), this verse unambiguously says that it is necessary to believe in Jesus in order to have eternal life. The questions many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, would like to know is “Why?”. I recognize that this topic can quickly lead to other questions such is the Bible is true, why would a loving God send people to hell, and many others, but I will save those for another time. In this article I will only address the direct question of why we must believe in Jesus. I think and hope that I can give a sufficient answer to that question.
First, it is important to recognize that Christianity does not exclude people, not anyone at all. What it excludes is ideas and all worldviews or religions that do that. Even worldviews that claim to include everyone end up excluding those who claim to be the only way. The reason for this is because truth by definition is exclusive. For instance, 2+2=4. The correct answer is the one and only right answer and, therefore, all other answers are wrong or excluded. I am currently living on the planet earth, therefore, I am not on Mars. We should actually be leery of inclusion rather than exclusion.
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Ironically, despite the accusations, Christianity should be the least exclusive worldview in terms of acceptance and respect of other people (I recognize it is not always practiced or portrayed this way, but this is what it SHOULD be). What other worldview so clearly says to love your enemy? The view of Christians should be that, yes, we have the truth and here it is, but you are free to reject it, and we will still love and respect you as a person, even if your ideas about the world are flawed. This balance is possible because Christianity says all people are made in the image of God and worthy of respect, regardless of what they do wrong or what they believe.
Another point to recognize is that without God, right and wrong are make believe constructs that are defined by personal or cultural preferences. There is no such thing as absolute right or absolute wrong without God. Therefore, if God does not exist, then it does not even make sense to criticise a religion for being exclusivistic because exclusion is not wrong. Any particular person or culture may not like it, but others might. It is only preference, just like choosing a favorite color.
This next answer is very blunt and humbling. We live in God’s world; a world that He created and that He will judge. There is no appealing to a higher standard because God is the highest standard. We have no choice to accept it and if we do not like it, then we must realize that the problem is that we have in incorrect view of reality…