In this series, we are examining the claim that Jesus is the only way to God. In our first post, we observed the tendency to answer this theological question through social experience. Many people conclude that there must be many ways to God (or act like this, a view called Religious Pluralism) because their social experiences introduce them to kind, respectable people who do not believe Jesus is the only way to God. In the second post, we examined the claim that religious pluralism is more educated or enlightened. In this third post, we will weigh whether or not religious pluralism is a more humble claim than the claim of Jesus.
Is Religious Pluralism More Humble?
Despite very clear differences on who God is and how to reach him, religious pluralists continue to insist that there are many ways to God. Why would educated people continue to insist on an inaccurate view of other religions? One major reason is because they believe it to be an act of humility and love. Very often I hear people say: “Who am I to judge someone else’s religion, to tell them that they are wrong?” This implies, of course, that maintaining Jesus is the only way to God is arrogant. I’ll be the first to admit there are angry arrogant Christians who rudely insist that Jesus is the only way to God. I’d like to apologize for those kinds of Christians. Arrogant insistence on your beliefs actually runs counter to the life and teachings of Jesus. However, just because someone is arrogant doesn’t make them wrong.
People are arrogantly right about all kinds of things—Math, Science, Religion. You probably work with someone like this. (Can you say Dwight Schreute?) The arrogantly right person always talk down to others with an air of arrogance because they have the right answer. It might not be nice, but it doesn’t mean they are wrong. And for all the Christians who are arrogant about Jesus’ exclusive claims, there are many more who have ardently considered many religions, searched out the truth, and humbly come the conclusion that Jesus was telling the truth, that is the only way to God. This doesn’t make them arrogant; it makes them authentic. They are willing to stand by what they discovered to be true. There is a humble and an arrogant way to insist on Jesus’ claim that he is the only way to God. Insisting on what is true doesn’t make you arrogant. After all, it is Jesus who said it, and Jesus was quintessentially humble, especially if he is who he said he was.
Religious pluralism exclusively insists that its view—all ways lead to God—is true while all other religions are false in their exclusive teachings.
The Hidden Arrogance of Religious Pluralism
When religious pluralism says that there are many ways to God, it is not humble. It actually carries an air of arrogance about it. How? Religious pluralism insists that its view—all ways lead to God—is true while all other religions are false in their exclusive teachings. Religious pluralism dogmatically insists on its exclusive claim, namely that all roads lead to God. The problem, as we have seen, is that this claim directly contradicts many religions like Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity. The claim of the religious pluralist is arrogant because it enforces own belief on others. It says to other religions: “You must believe what I believe, not what you believe. Your way isn’t right, in fact all of your ways are wrong and my way is right. There isn’t just one way (insert your way) to God; there are many ways. You are wrong and I am right.” This can be incredibly arrogant, particularly if the person saying this hasn’t studied all the world religions in depth and makes this blind assertion. Upon what basis can the religious pluralist make this exclusive claim? Where is the proof that this is true? To what ancient Scriptures, traditions, and careful reasoning can they point?
The lack of historical and rational support for religious pluralism makes it a highly untenable view of the world and its religions. As we have seen, while it may appear to be a more enlightened and humble view on God and how to reach him, it is not. In the next post, we will consider the value of tolerance.
This series was orginally post here.
Jonathan Dodson is lead pastor of Austin City Life in Austin, Texas. Dodson is author of Fight Clubs: Gospel-centered Discipleship and Viral Hope: Good News from the Urbs and Burbs (and everything in between). For more information about the author, check out his bio.