Truth: More than a Feeling
by Abdu Murray
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with a bright woman who had been raised in a strong Christian home, but had given up any conviction that Jesus’ work on the cross was the exclusive means of salvation or that the Gospel is the “one true way.” Over the years, she had grown close to many people from faith traditions far different than Christianity and who sincerely believed that they were following God. “How can it be,” she asked me, “that God would send such sincere people to Hell just because they failed to believe the one, narrow view that Jesus’ sacrifice is what saves us? I can’t help but feel that something’s not right about that.”
There’s always a challenge in addressing this issue. On the one hand, Jesus makes a clear statement that he provides (in fact he is) the sole way of salvation and the embodiment of truth (e.g., John 14:6). On the other hand, His claim is hard to accept because so many seem to be fervently following what they believe is a valid path to God. For the Christian, any response has to be biblically faithful, logically sound, and emotionally principled. The challenge comes in doing all three at the same time. Maintaining consistency with Jesus’ exclusive claim can come off as judgmental or even insulting to the dignity of other people. But in reality, those who hold to a more relativistic idea – that all paths can lead to God – have a much tougher challenge.
I could respect the young woman’s uneasy “feeling” that the Gospel’s exclusivity wasn’t right. I wrestled with that very issue for years myself. There are many people dear to me who have passed away and showed no sign that they put their trust in Christ. But our feelings don’t determine truth. Any truth claim, whether made by Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, or anyone else, can be tested by reason and evidence. I was not asking that woman to trust my opinion or my feelings. I was providing her with Jesus’ view of truth. And, unlike me, her, or anyone else for that matter, Jesus has a unique credibility. He claimed that he came into the world to die as a sacrifice in payment for our sins so that we can be saved. He claimed that there was no other way to be saved but to trust in Him. If He died and stayed dead like every other person in history, we may never have good reasons to believe Him. But He didn’t stay dead. To prove what He was saying, Jesus rose from the dead (see this video). And, as I’ve said many times before, a man who rises from the dead has credibility. There is more to the Christian faith than just feeling.
What’s more, Jesus’ exclusive claim actually addresses our feelings while allowing us to remain logically consistent. The young woman’s objection was that God couldn’t possibly be limited to the Gospel’s narrow ideas that exclude so many from a relationship with Him. In her view – which is common to so many in our culture – such an exclusion robs sincere believers of their dignity or punishes them despite their sincerity. But the fact that there are consequences to what we choose to believe is not “narrow” or cruel. Quite the opposite is true because the consequences actually invest us with true dignity…