The Question of Other Religions

Religions Are Not All Equal

    In the United States, one of the most common arguments against Christianity is the following: All people, all races, and all religions are equal. Why should you believe Christianity's claims that it is the one true religion? This argument is powerful and common because of the culture in the United States. We enshrine equality above almost any other good. With some probing questions, however, we realize that all people cannot be equal. A murderer is not equal to a soup kitchen volunteer. What the founders of the United States actually intended is that everyone is equal under the law. They did not intend that everyone be treated equally regardless of what they did. Both a murderer and a volunteer live under the same law, but while the murderer is thrown in prison the volunteer is honored. This is how it should be. It is similar when we discuss political systems. Practically and ethically, the U.S. political system is superior to that of Nazism. If this is not obvious to you, I suggest that you imagine being born Jewish in a world ruled by Nazism. In addition, it is clear that different religions have different amounts of truth in them. A cult that demands that its members commit suicide is flawed in a way not replicated in any of the major religions. It is also reasonable to expect that one of the major religions has a better grasp of truth than the others, though the differences are not always as dramatic and will take more work to discover.

    Now that we can admit the possibility that one religion is more correct than the others, we are in a better position to question whether or not Christianity is true. We must do this by analyzing the truth claims of Christianity to decide which claims are true and which are false. Of course, it is quite possible that no religion gets it perfect, but it is extremely unlikely that all religions have the exact same amount of truth in them. In this book, I am primarily concerned with proving Christianity to be true, and I do not analyze other religions in depth.

    I must mention that it is certain that all religions cannot be 100% true. Religions contradict each other all the time. For example, Christians believe that Jesus is God become man; and Muslims believe that he is not God. These cannot both be true. Once I have proved something about Christianity, I have proved all contradictory views from other religions false. Alternatively, I will often prove a concept that is also in a different religion. In this case, I will have proved part of a different religion to be true.

Who Then Is Saved?

    Christians believe that Christianity is the one true religion. Many non-Christians believe that most Christians believe that only Christians go to heaven. Some (misinformed) Christians also believe that only Christians are saved. Who do well-informed Christians believe to be saved? That is, who really makes it to heaven? Many non-Christians and nearly all Christians know the passage:

Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (Jn 14:6)

This states explicitly you are saved by God the Father through Jesus. Many think that this also says that you must have knowingly become a Christian in order to be saved. That is not what Jesus believes, so it is not what this passage means. To know this more clearly, we must look at some of the other words of Jesus, which are quoted much less often.

"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me also hates my Father. If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father." (Jn 15:22-24)

If you have never heard of Jesus, you are not, by default, condemned. It is possible to be saved even if you have no conscious knowledge of Jesus. What if you live in rural China and your only experience of Jesus is that one missionary handed you a pamphlet? You may have rejected Jesus externally by throwing the pamphlet away, but accepted Jesus's message of love and service to God and others without realizing it, and hence be saved. God understands that some have little knowledge of him, through no fault of their own. He will not hold your non-Christian birth against you. However, you will still have your chance to choose to follow God. Just because you cannot point to the specific event or thought where God reached out to you does not mean that it never occurred. Those who respond and give themselves to God are saved. Those who reject God condemn themselves by their rejection. Now, in most cases, it is impossible for us to determine who is in which column, and it is not particularly healthy for us to be overly concerned with it. We should pull people towards Jesus when given the opportunity, but it is not usually proper or possible to state who is condemned and who is saved.

    If it is possible for a non-Christian to be saved, why should you be Christian? First, you should be Christian because Christianity is true, as I will demonstrate later. Second, if you strive to be like Jesus, you will find joy. Third, you should be Christian because if you have been genuinely offered the truth and you rejected it, you may well be condemned. We are not all Chinese farmers. To those whom much is given, much is expected.

This page was last changed on 2011/08/28