The question was once raised with me, “There are so many religions out there – why should I believe that Jesus is the one who leads us to God?”. A good question deserves a good answer …
Don’t All Religions Just Know God In Part?
An objection to the uniqueness claim made by Biblical Christianity is often based along the lines of, “As God is infinite, don’t all the religions know in part about God and so each leads to God in it’s own way?”. The first part of the answer is to say that different religions believe contradictory things – they can’t all be true simultaneously. Either Christ died on the cross being crucified by the Romans or He didn’t (Islam completely rejects the idea that Jesus died on the cross). Either Christ had a physical bodily resurrection from the dead or he didn’t (the Jehovah’s Witnesses would deny this). Either the Lord Jesus Christ is both fully man and fully God – the one true eternal God who made all things, who is without beginning and end, before whom, after whom, and besides whom there is no other God - or he is just a man (Islam, Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witness, and in fact many other religions all deny that Jesus Christ is truly God).
The second part of the answer is to realise that all who assert that each religion sees only in part about God, are making the claim that they alone know the full picture concerning God, and they can confirm that each religion knows only in part. In other words they are claiming a greater knowledge about God than all other religions combined – only they have the full picture and having the full picture allows them to see that each religion only has a part of the truth about God. That is an incredibly bold statement to make. The most natural conclusion, when religions contradict each other, is to conclude that they are not all right – i.e. that false views about God exist along with true.
Christians Are Not The Only People With An Exclusivity Claim
The prevailing view in the West, is that it is wrong to make an exclusivity claim, i.e. that it is arrogant to claim that one source text, and one only has the truth about God. For Bible believing Christians it is the Bible, and the Bible alone that is the final authority in all matters of belief and conduct before God.
We need to realise that everyone has an exclusivity claim. No-one is neutral here. The atheist claims that they have the truth about God, that God does not exist, and that all who worship God are wasting their time. Has it been proven that God does not exist? Have I missed this somewhere? Has mankind looked in very part of the universe and beyond to confirm that God does not exist? Sure, an individual can say that it is their opinion that God does not exist, but this is not a proven fact. To make a claim that God does not exist is equally as much an exclusivity claim as to say Jesus Christ is the only way to God.
So Why Is Jesus Unique And The Only Way to God?
The fact that a man called Jesus lived and died in first century Israel is attested to by first century Jewish and Roman historians (e.g. Josephus, Sosthenes and Tacitus) as well as the early Christian writers. But Christians go on to assert (as did Josephus) that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the grave. No other religious leader is alive almost 2000 years after their birth. To bring another person back to life is astonishing – but to bring yourself back to life is in a different league altogether. Jesus is utterly unique.
When you look at the claims of Jesus, we are left in no doubt that He clearly stated He was God. Jesus declared He came from heaven (John 6:41). The reference He used for Himself on over 80 occasions in the four gospels was the “Son of Man”, a title taken from the Old Testament book of Daniel (Daniel 7:13,14). As authority, glory, power, dominion and worship are given to the Son Man figure in Daniel, we can clearly see this is a reference to God. Jesus could openly claim to be sinless before His accusers (John 8:46). How many of us could make that claim? Further Jesus claimed that he pre-existed before His birth, and indeed before the patriarch Abraham (John 8:58), who lived in the region of 2000 years before Jesus was born. Indeed it was because He claimed to be equal with God that Jesus was crucified (Mark 14:61-64). Finally after He rose from the grave Jesus accepted worship from one of his disciples, Thomas (John 20:28). Concerning the claims of Jesus Christ C.S. Lewis states this:
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg, or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God or else a mad man or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool. You can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about him being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” C.S. Lewis
As God, Jesus knows, and has the right to declare, the means of getting to know Him:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
The God man Jesus Christ, died on a cross taking God’s punishment for all that we do wrong. He alone as God could take the infinite wrath of God (God the Father’s just response to our breaking of His laws) in a finite time on the cross. He had to be a man who had lived under God’s law to die in our place. No other religious leader claims to be sinless eternal God, who has died to make a way for His people to get to know Himself (Mark 10:45). All other religions teach man must improve Himself and then God might accept him. Jesus teaches us that He has done everything for us to get to know God and we simply need to believe in His finished work upon the cross. He is utterly unique.
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.