Are Christians Narrow-Minded and Intolerant?

by Michael Kruger

When it comes to modern religious discourse, there is no greater sin than to claim your religion is the only one that is true.  You can believe just about anything and receive a shrug of the shoulders from an unbelieving world, but say that you believe in one way to heaven and accusations of narrow-mindedness and intolerance are inevitable.

Years ago, there was a well-known interview between Oprah Winfrey and Tom Cruise about Scientology.  Oprah was clearly skeptical of Cruise’s religious beliefs, but she then asked the million dollar question: “You don’t believe Scientology is the only true religion, do you?”  It was easy to tell that the question was loaded with a mountain of implications; answer this wrongly and the floodgates would be opened.

Cruise, of course, answered the question as Oprah would expect.  He denied that Scientology claimed to be the only true religion (apparently only evangelical Christians are that foolish).  After clarifying this, one could sense the tension in the room immediately lessen.

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Given this cultural context, how should Christians deal with the inevitable confrontation over the Christian claim that Jesus is the only way to heaven?  For one, we need to clarify that this is not simply a claim that we are making on behalf of Christianity. It is not as if Christians enjoy their religion so much that they decide to make extravagant claims about it.  Nor are the exclusive claims of Christianity merely a fear tactic designed to recruit more converts.

Instead, we need to remind folks that this is a claim that Jesus himself made (John 14:6) and that we, as followers of Jesus, are simply upholding his teachings.  For this reason, I like the answer that RTS Charlotte professor James Anderson gave to this question in a recent interview for The Gospel Coalition

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