Surveys are a “dime a dozen,” and as surveys go, you can manipulate them in a variety of ways. Everything from their wording, to smaller rather than larger sampling sizes, to each respondent’s honesty and intent can color the outcome. Nonetheless, they offer food for thought on many issues. Such was the case with the results of a recent survey done by Probe Ministries which determined that “70% of ‘born-again Christians’ believe Jesus is not the only way to God.” You did read that correctly didn’t you? Said “Christians” believe that Jesus IS NOT the only way to God despite the fact that Jesus said that he was, indeed, the only way to God (Almost 70 Percent of Born-Again Christians Say Jesus Christ Isn't the Only Way to God, Study Shows - Milton Quintanilla (christianheadlines.com).
The problem with such thinking should be obvious, but then again, maybe not. This problem began and accelerated in the west when religious ideas were moved to what the late Francis Schaeffer once called the “upper story.” In other words, human knowledge of any acclaimed reality beyond the five senses is based on mere conjecture, or as many classify it today, “faith.” Faith in the popular sense, then, is a personal matter and, hence, subjective. As one scholar put it, “People don’t believe that religious knowledge is actual knowledge. They don’t think that they are expressions of facts…. They think that religious beliefs are mere expressions of personal taste or opinion.” Hence, “truth" in religious matters is no longer absolute, except of course, the religious truth that truth in religious matters is no longer absolute.
Perhaps I’m “preaching to the choir” here, but then again, perhaps not. Many self-acclaimed “bible believing” Christians reflect this same sad mentality, and while they would never verbally affirm other ways to God, the absoluteness of their faith has suffered a debilitating and suppressing blow.
Several years ago, for example, I read an article entitled, “Born again people don’t need any proof” (The Loris Scene: Loris, SC, May 18, 2011). Therein the author heralded her blind faith as something to be desired.
Other statements over the years express a similar sentiment. “If Christianity were not true, I would still be one,” said one man, or “Muslims believe they’re right too,” said another as if a proverbial toss-up between competing truth claims with no issue settling facts for either existed.
Then there’s the local preacher who presented a “Spiritual Connections” column in which he catalogued the elements of a “healthy religion.” According to him, these Elements included, 1) love and acceptance, 2) intellectually challenging, 3) faith and hope, 4) grace, 5) humility, 6) and finally a moral lifestyle (The High Point Enterprise: Oct. 5, 2013).
At first glance, the polished minister seemed spot on - but wait. There was one essential element missing, and dare I say the most important one of all.
Did you miss it too?
What about truth?
Finally, there’s another statement I read in the Enterprise and to my knowledge nobody else objected, at least in writing. In fact, every time I bring it up, many Christians look at me like I’ve lost my mind. Said the disclaimer regarding it’s printing of the Christmas story, “And for anyone who might be offended in even the slightest way by ‘Merry Christmas,’ we wish the realization for you that such a greeting is only a simple, faith-based expression of peace and hope, not an assault upon your own beliefs.”
Translation: Just remember, our printing of the Christmas story is but a “faith-based expression” with no connection at all to actual, discernible, or verifiable reality and should not, therefore, be considered an assault upon your own beliefs. The Christmas story, then, may be “true” for Christians, but not necessarily true for the plethora of other and opposing “faiths” in our world.
In lieu of the above views and intimations, then, is there any wonder so many concede such religious broadness. Does it not also explain the waning evangelism in so many churches?
Biblical evangelism requires that we preach Christ, his nature, and his work authoritatively and we can do so only if we preach it as truly true as opposed to false. It requires that we maintain and defend the idea that truth about such matters is absolute, universal, exclusive, and, as importantly, truly knowable. Certitude drove the early disciples’ preaching and should empower ours as well. Grace alone by faith alone in the resurrected Christ alone is the only way, and as truth, narrow it is.
Hence the words of Jesus as opposed to the now popular Christian culture, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: NO MAN cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).