Why must Christians insist that Jesus Christ is the only way to God? What about the man or woman who trusts, loves, and worships God, but not Jesus? Would God really not accept someone just because they do not accept Christ?
One of the cultural obstacles to Christianity is the exclusive nature of its claims. Consider the following passages:1
- There is salvation in no one else Acts 4:12
- I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me John 14:6
Such statements are certainly bold if not outright offensive in light of our culture's insistence on the relativity of truth and the variety of appropriate ways to God. Because Christianity has affirmed that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation, the charge of exclusivity is stamped upon our faith and it is subsequently blacklisted as intolerant and thus unacceptable within the marketplace of ideas. Is this charge warranted? Is Christianity truly exclusive?
The rejection of Christianity on the basis of its exclusive claims is a denial that God, if He exists, would be so restrictive in allowing access to Himself. Would He really condemn someone who believed in, loved, and worshipped Him, but not necessarily Jesus?
At the root of this question is a major theological assumption which must be addressed. The assumption is that Jesus is not God. The question necessarily divides the very nature of God. If God is triune as Christians claim,2 then it is impossible to worship "God" and not worship Jesus, because Jesus truly is God. If God is not triune, then Jesus is not fully divine and the Christian faith is nothing more than another religion vying for attention.
The exclusivity of Christianity rises or falls on the connection between the Father and Son. One who loves and trusts in one will truly and surely love and trust in the other. Here is a sample of some of the relevant texts which discuss the impossibility of love for and trust in one apart from the other:
No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. - 1 John 2:23
Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life - 1 John 5:10-12
The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. - John 5.22-23
The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me. - Luke 10:16
Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. - 2 John 9
There is an inseparable link between the knowledge of the Son and the knowledge of the Father. To love one is to love the other and to reject one is to reject the other. To speak of God accepting those who have rejected Christ is to misunderstand Who Christ is.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities "all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. - Colossians 1:15-23
This not a doctrine that produces arrogance on the part of those who trust Christ, but rather a longing for others to taste and see the glory of the Father as it shines forth perfectly and brilliantly in His beloved Son. May we put to death any sinful and ignorant pride and be a people who tearfully beg every nation, tongue, and tribe to be reconciled to God through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
2 See Dwell Deep Weeks 10, 11, and 12 for a teaching on the Christian belief in the Trinity - Village Resources