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Religious Tolerance logo

An essay by Kathy LaPan

Why Christianity is exclusive: the only true religion

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It is commonly considered “correct” to view all religions as having equal value. This is one meaning of the term "pluralism." I would like to explain why this is impossible for a believing Christian.

The Bible is the inerrant Word of God. It represents the Truth, as presented to us by the Lord. You’ll note that I did not say, “Christians believe…”. This is because it is not what is believed by Christians, but what we know to be true. We may accept these statements on faith but it is not on the level of belief, in the way I may say, “I believe it will rain tomorrow”, which contains at least a minimal element of doubt even if it has rained for a week and the weatherman says it will continue. It is faith on the level that says, “Spring will follow Winter, and Fall will follow Summer”. It is faith that is proven, true, evidential, and indisputable.

It is also a faith that does not have to be believed in order to be true. You can disbelieve that Fall will follow Summer, but that will not stop the leaves from changing. Your belief doesn’t change the Lord or His Word.

In the Bible, Jesus tells us:

" I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well."
John 14:6-7

Whether you choose to believe in Jesus and God’s Word affects your own salvation. It does not in any way impact the validity of Jesus or God’s Word.
If the Bible is the inerrant Word of God revealed to us, and the Bible tells us that the only way to the Lord is through belief in Jesus, then it follows that no other religion – no other path to the Lord – can be legitimate. Therefore, it is not possible for a believing Christian to give equal credence to all religions, although our popular culture demands that we do so or else risk being considered “judgmental” or “intolerant”.

The choice to belief in Jesus and obey the Lord is the result of judgment. The individual weighs the information presented to him and judges it, choosing the path that leads him to the Lord. Without judgment, we’re simply open buckets waiting to be filled with whatever happens to fall in.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-15

To be called judgmental is no more offensive than being called discerning. To apply knowledge, spiritual enlightenment, and a lifetime of experience to your choices is the ultimate of judgmental behavior. It is also the behavior of a mature person.

It is not “intolerant” to believe something is true, and other things are not true. It is a firmness and unwavering of belief. Tolerance does not mean giving equal credence to a variety of options, but rather allowing other options to exist unmolested. No Christian would suggest that believers of other religions should be destroyed (and those who do suggest such things are not Christians, but rather are hiding behind a religious title to give themselves false authority). We are instructed to be beacons of light, leading others to Christ through sharing, caring, and love.

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19

We, as believing Christians, are to offer the light of the Word as a beacon in the darkness for nonbelievers, touching our light to the wick of their souls until it finally bursts into the flame of Christ. We are not to be bulldozers destroying the faiths of others with words or actions. We are to allow them to come to Christ through our personal sparks.

We cannot give equal credence to other religions because to do so would be to deny the supremacy and sole authority of God. We cannot say, for instance, veganism is the only right way, but so is eating meat. They are mutually exclusive. Christianity is an exclusive religion. It does not allow room for other beliefs.

Christianity also does not allow mutation. You cannot, as many people have tried, transmute Christianity into what you wish for it to be. It may sound nice to say Christianity is an all-inclusive religion, but this not true. The Lord is very clear in the Ten Commandments that there are rules that must be obeyed. Jesus makes it clear that all people have the ability and the invitation to accept Him, but each individual must make that choice. And they must choose Jesus as He is, not as they wish for Him to be.

In conclusion, although it is not popular to say one set of beliefs is correct and others are incorrect, for a believing Christian that is the truth. Jesus is the truth, the way, and the light, and there is no other way to the Lord. To accept all religions as having equal validity is to deny the basic tenets of Christianity.

You shall not bow down to [beliefs not given by the Lord] or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. Exodus 20:5

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First posted on: 2008-SEP-16.
Latest update: 2013-APR-01
Kathy LaPan

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Webmaster's notes:

  • Susan Humphreys has written a rebuttal to this essay: "Do people have the right to believe anything they want? Does religious freedom include the right to hurt others?"

  • There is a difficulty in Ms. Lapan's essay. Sincere, educated, thoughtful, and devout fundamentalist and other evangelical Christian theologians have analyzed the Bible on a wide variety of topics ranging from the role of women in the church to the criteria for salvation. They have reached different and conflicting understandings. Each theologian is positive that his -- and they are almost always male -- understanding is absolute truth, and that all of the others are wrong. We have listed dozens of books, published by Zondervan and other suppliers, in which evangelical theologians argue that their position is true and those beliefs of other theologians in the same book as false.

    With such diversity within one branch of Christianity, and an even greater diversity among the remaining branches of the same religion, it is difficult to argue in favor of the inerrancy of the Bible.
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