Posted on / by Ben Jones

Absolute Truth and Christian Exclusivism

The chanting outside grew steadily louder as the Roman governor stared at the condemned man before him. Little did he know that this interrogation would be the most important in all of history. The roar of the rioting crowd echoed off the walls, but one question was finally asked that would reverberate throughout the ages: “What is Truth?” Two thousand years later popular culture has started to agree on an answer: “There is none.”

Today, many reject the notion of Absolute Truth, and espouse relativism in its stead. ‘What is true for you may not be true for me.’ ‘If it feels right, it is right.’ ‘If it feels good, do it.’ Absolute Truth refers to that which is true and right for all people, in all places, and at all times, as opposed to relativism which contends that all truth is relative or subjective, based on the individual. As such, relativists view those that hold strong beliefs, values, and standards, as ‘narrow-minded,’ ‘intolerant,’ and ‘arrogant.’ However, we can quickly see that not one person on Earth actually lives as if there is no absolute truth. Without truth, we would be unable to function as human beings. We cross the street based on whether traffic has stopped, not because we prefer the road to be clear. If we don’t conform our thinking to the external truth of traffic conditions, we will die. Truth about the external world dictates our daily lives. Relativism, even on its face, is self-refuting. To quote a popular Lecrae lyric, “If what’s true for you is true for you and what’s true for me is true for me, what if my truth says your’s is a lie? Is it still true?”

On the same token, we live in a society of pluralism, where all religious claims are seen to have equal truth value. In fact, if an afterlife even exists at all, the mere idea that there is only one way to heaven is considered deeply offensive. Many believe that most religions have the same core beliefs, thus it doesn’t really matter which one they choose to follow. Or consider the atheist. They don’t worry about how religions differ as they believe they are all equally false; however atheism is still a belief system. We aren’t just talking about religions, we are talking about your belief system, whatever you think is true.

Let’s say you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and were told you were going to die. But there is some medicine you could take that will save you, and several pills were spread out before you. You could decide you don’t believe the doctor and take your chances and just not take any medicine (atheism, agnosticism). Or maybe you believe the doctor and he is telling you that one of these pills will save you. You could say they are basically the same because they come in tablet form, they are the same size, and have similar colors. Thus, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. In that case, you would naturally choose the one that tastes the best or is the easiest to swallow. This is how many treat their choice of belief system or religion. But what if we put labels on the pills? Now one says “Aspirin” and the other says “Arsenic.” If you take the wrong one, it will kill you; if you take the right one, it will save you from your terminal illness. This is the reality of Truth. Belief systems and the major world religions are drastically different upon even the most cursory of study. Even when stripped down to their most basic tenants, the major religions differ greatly. Let’s just choose one… their belief about God. Atheism believes there is no God. Hinduism has millions of gods; New Age belief systems say we are god. Islam has an impersonal God who requires work for salvation; Christianity has a personal God who offers the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. They cannot all be true because they maintain opposing beliefs.

If Truth is out there to be found, shouldn’t our life goal be to find it? And if that Truth includes an afterlife, what could be more important than discovering the Truth that will dictate where you spend eternity? I mean, this life is a flash, over in an instant, compared to eternity. I am an apologist, which does not mean I’m a professional apologizer. Apologetics comes from the word “apologia,” which simply means ‘defense’ in Greek. An apologist simply defends with evidence what he believes to be true. You can be a Christian apologist, a Muslim apologist, or a global warming apologist. For Christians though, it’s particularly important because in the Bible, we are instructed in 1 Peter 3:15, that we must “always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and reverance.” The word ‘defense’ in Greek is ‘apologia.’ Why would a loving God allow so much evil and suffering in the world? How can we know the Bible is true if it was written 2000 years ago? Why do you even believe God exists? Apologetics answers these questions from a scientific, philosophical, and/or historical perspective.

I want you to be skeptical of Christianity. I want you to be skeptical about Jesus, and especially about something seemingly as incredible as the resurrection of Christ. If you are going to believe in a dead man coming back to life, you need some solid reasons and evidence to back up this belief. But you must also have an open mind and open heart and honestly consider the evidence laid before you.

In bullet form, here are five objective reasons to consider Christianity first when choosing a belief system:

  • Salvation is a free gift of God.
    • Grace is unique to Christianity. Other religions offer hard ways to earn salvation. Living as a Christian may be hard, but becoming a Christian is easy. If you believe in an afterlife, then Christianity is the way to go.
  • The worldview matches real-life experience.
    • Christianity paints a picture of the world that matches the one that really is. People hurt, and experience evil and pain. Christianity acknowledges pain and suffering and confronts it, with an ultimate solution. With others, such as Buddhism, it is denied as an illusion. CS Lewis says “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
  • It allows for a non-compartmentalized life.
    • Science and Faith go together. There as no two sets of rules. For many other belief systems, there are a set of rules that apply in everyday life, but in spirituality, anything goes; there is no logic or reality.
  • Christianity has Jesus at the center.
    • Everyone wants a piece of Jesus. Some religions consider him a great prophet. Some consider him enlightened. Some consider him as simply a great historical ‘influencer.’ Christianity not only explains why Jesus is such an important historal figure, but puts him at the front and center of all reality.
  • Christianity is testable, evidential, and historical.
    • All but four of the major world religions are simply ‘ways of thinking’, or philosophical propositions. However, Christianity absolutely hangs by the thread of the historical event of the Resurrection of Christ. 1st Corinthians 15 says that if the resurrection isn’t true, then Christianity is not true. The resurrection is an historical event that can be investigated. It either happened or it did not. If it’s not true, move on. But with others (Buddhism, Hinduism), you are in for the long haul to figure out if it is true or if it works. Also, consider this. If you wanted to set up your own religion, what would you do? You would make sure that all divine knowledge is found in you, and you alone. This is the case with most major world religions. Jesus, however, recognized the necessity of outward evidence to help with peoples’ internal faith.

One of the purposes of apologetics is to make you more bold and confident as you proclaim Christ’s name as the only means to salvation and heaven. But this bold claim was never intended to be based on a blind faith. 1 Peter 3:15 mandates that we all be ready to gently and reverently defend our faith and ‘the hope that is within us.’ Apologetics helps us use reason and evidence to do just that. How do we come to know truth in the court of law? We look at the evidence. Faith is actively trusting in what you have good reason to believe in. The plagues in Exodus were evidence for the Egyptians so that they could know that the Lord is God. In 1 Kings 18, God answered Elijah with fire so that all would know He is Lord. Christ did miracles on earth as proof that He was who He said He was. In Mark 2, Jesus tells a paralytic that his sins are forgiven, but the scribes thought it blasphemy. In response, Jesus declares, “But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins… I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” He showed the people physical evidence to prove that he was capable of this faith-based, and much greater, spiritual deed, that is, the forgiveness of sin. God is asking us to trust Him, and He is willing to earn it. He has given us a wealth of philosophical and historical evidence to support the exclusive claims of Christ. John 20:31 says “But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Consider this: If Christ is not the exclusive avenue to salvation, why did He die? How cruel a God to have sent His only Son to die a horrific death if there were other ways to be saved. How foolish the Son to endure ridicule, torture, and crucifixion at the hands of men if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. But no, only out of a boundless love for mankind and a sense of necessity did Christ say, “if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done.

Twenty centuries ago, Pilate asked the question “What is Truth?” The Answer, Jesus Christ, stood before him having just proclaimed, “…for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Jesus being ‘full of grace and Truth’ (John 1:14), proclaims, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). The Truth of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation. These exclusive claims are not just an important part of His teaching, but the very foundation on which all His teachings rest. Peter proclaims, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The Apostle John declares that “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12). Despite the explicit claims of Christ, an astonishing number of Christians, many of them evangelical leaders, when pressed, fail to stand on the exclusivity of Christ. It is difficult for them to conceive that only a small fraction of the world’s population will believe on Christ’s name and be saved, and that the majority will be condemned. But does not Christ address and acknowledge this very truth in Matthew 7:13-14? “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

Your belief system should be able to answer the four greatest questions in life. Where did I come from and how did I get here? (Our Origin) Why am I here? (Our Purpose) How am I supposed to live? (Our Morality) Where am I going? (Our Destiny) Jesus Christ answers them all Absolutely. We “have been created by and for Him” (Col. 1:16) to “live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20). Whosoever puts their trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, eternal life with Him is secure. For those who choose a different answer, or believe there is none, their destiny is sure as well. Despite the clear evidence, people will still reject this Truth because it requires them to recognize their own sin, and because of the moral implications involved in how they are to live their lives. Pride has been mankind’s greatest struggle and greatest sin since the Garden of Eden, but eternity is a high price to pay in order to maintain it. If Jesus Christ is the basis on which we answer the questions of Origin, Purpose, and Morality, then our Destiny is set as well. Heaven and Hell are real places. Hell will be eternal separation from God… eternal regret, eternal hopelessness, eternal darkness. Heaven will be eternal joy, fulfillment, and communion with our Creator. These are realities. And remember, reality is not based on our desires. The Truth is true regardless of whether we choose to believe it. In the end, tragedy, suffering, and the fear of death causes many to suddenly want answers, absolutes, certainty, and Truth. We must be bold in proclaiming that Truth can only be found in Jesus Christ.

But this isn’t all about ‘them;’ it may be about you. When you are presented with Truth, and evidence that backs up that Truth, you must accept it or reject it. So what will you do with Christ? And if you honestly believe He is Lord, proving it through His resurrection, then what will you do with that knowledge? God has given us every reason to believe in Him, and He wants so badly to save you, to give you security that you will find nowhere else, to give you a joy and fulfillment that nothing else can provide, and to give you a spot in heaven. See John 3:16. When Jesus died on that cross, he died for you. And if you were the only person on the planet, He still would have died for you. And if you place your trust in Him, then all your sins become paid for at the cross of Christ. He took your place. Then when He rose from the dead, He showed us that He has the power to conquer death itself. My simple mission is to spread the Truth, and just a fraction of the evidence that backs up that Truth, because only the Truth can truly set you free.