Friday, May 16, 2014

Why is Jesus the only way? Part 2

Part II - Truth & Knowledge
Estimated reading time: Under 5 Mins
Main points: all
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Part I of this article discussed how our beliefs about God affect our behavior, and so we need to have right beliefs so that we can act accordingly.  You can read that article by clicking here.  Part II, while still intertwined with human behavior, focuses more on truth and knowledge.

3.) Knowing God  
look alike 3 amy ilsa.jpgGod wants to have a relationship with us (Galatians 3:26, 1 John 4:10).  If our knowledge of God is wrong, then we cannot have a very good relationship with Him, nor can we love Him very well.  Think of this in terms of actual people.  For example, let's assume that you are a world famous celebrity who is very nice and caring (hopefully the second part isn’t too much of a stretch of the imagination).  One day you meet a few people at a party and really hit it off, so you exchange contact information.  Over the next few months, you hang out, talk on the phone, and send e-mails to each other.  However, your new friends start to believe bad and untrue things about you based on unreliable sources instead of believing what you say is true.  To add insult to injury, they constantly confuse you with another celebrity that looks like you (like Amy Adams & Isla Fisher).

You may feel you know these people pretty well, but how well do they know you?  How will their inaccurate knowledge of you affect how their friends, family, and coworkers view you?  You could not have a genuine and meaningful relationship with them and it would be very difficult to have a relationship with anyone who they've gossiped to about you.  How can you love God and have a meaningful relationship with Him if your knowledge of Him is inaccurate?  If you view Him as angry or indifferent, why would you bother to put your trust in Him?  If you don’t think He even exists, how can you experience the joy He can bring to your life?  If you think He is weak or controlling, why would you bother to follow His commands and make disciples for Him?

4.) Exclusion
Many people criticise Christianity because it is exclusivistic, only accepting one way.  Yes, Christianity excludes certain beliefs, but it does not exclude people, not anyone at all.  Anybody can come to Christ, at any time, in anyway, and Christians should be accepting of all people.  What Christianity excludes is ideas.  While this may seem unique to Christianity, all worldviews and religions exclude others, some just might be more subtle about it.  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.  We should actually be leery of inclusion rather than exclusion because the inclusivists are making claims that at the very least, are excluding the exclusivists.

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 neighbor and even your enemy?  The view of Christians should be that, yes, we have the truth and will do anything we can to help you see it, but you are free to reject it.  Whether you accept or reject it, we will still love and respect you as a person.  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 or what they believe.

5.) What is right or good?
Most people want to do what is right and be a good person.  Unfortunately, without the existence of God (an absolute and objective standard), right and wrong are man-made 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 criticize a religion for being exclusivistic because exclusion is not wrong or bad.  Any particular person or culture may not like it; however, others might like it.  It is only preference, just like choosing a favorite color.

On top of that, we live in a world that is created by God and will be judged by God.  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 our selfish desires are giving us an incorrect view of reality.  Luckily, we were created by a loving and forgiving God who judges us based on who we really are in our heart.  We all make mistakes and act out of character at times, but those rare instances don't reflect who we are.  If we are to be judged, wouldn’t you want to be judged fairly, by who you actually are in your heart and not on your imperfections?  If, at your core, you really love truth and honestly desire to know it, He will be revealed to you (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9, James 4:8).

6.) Because the Bible says so
The Bible is true; however, not everyone accepts it as true.  The standard dogmatic answer to the question of “why is Jesus the only way?” is because the Bible says so.  To the skeptic or honest doubter, this is a terrible answer by itself.  To make is a good answer, we must support that claim that Bible is true.  We can support this claim by evaluating the full ranges of evidence, which comes from areas such as philosophy (logic and  reason), science, history, and more.  There are piles of evidence supporting the truth of the Bible.  If, by those other means, it is determined that the Bible is true, it would be foolish to reject what it says about things that cannot be tested (even if we don't like it).1  The gravity really exists, even if I don’t want it to.  It would be foolish of me to admit it’s true, but refuse to accept it because I don’t like it.  No matter how much I don’t like gravity or don’t believe it, I will still fall if I decide to jump off a building.

Everything we do in life can be traced back to what we believe about God.  The God of the universe is personal, loving, and is concerned with truth.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  As a result, we should only expect one way to salvation and that is what He's given us. If we have an accurate view of God, our actions will also be accurate (morally right), which will lead our lives and the lives of those around us to be more fulfilling and joyful.

Thanks for reading.  If you have a question, comment, or disagreement, please write it in the comments.

1. Jesus said He told us of earthly things so we could believe the things He told us of heavenly things (John 3:12).  We are supposed to evaluate the claims of the Bible!

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