In the modern world where people almost universally believe that all religions are equally true how is the Christian supposed to respond? Simply quoting John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life” to skeptics who don’t accept the authority of Scripture is not effective. Although the full answer to this question can be complex, the starting place is to demonstrate that the typical talking points of our skeptical culture are inadequate. This post will demonstrate an effective approach to counter two talking points of our culture that serve as the foundation for our culture’s view of religion:
TALKING POINT #1: ALL RELIGIONS ARE THE SAME; ALL RELIGIONS ARE TRUE
If you have a conversation about religion with a skeptical family member or friend there is a good chance that within five minutes you will hear the statement, “All religions are the same or all religions are true.” Unfortunately, this talking point is usually used to stop or stall the conversation. It’s important that we provide evidence for why we believe that these statements are not reasonable.
Think for a moment about two of the great religions of the world—Islam and Christianity. These two religions represent close to 4 billion adherents—Christianity represents 32% of the world’s population while Islam represents 19% of the world’s population. That’s over 50% of the world’s population. Here’s the implication–although some of their world views are similar—these two religions are diametrically different on a central issue to their faith. Let me show you what I mean:
Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of mankind. His death is central–it’s the lynch pin of our entire faith.
Muslims claim the event never happened. In fact, the Islamic religion believes there is no need for a Savior to die on the cross.
It fundamentally matters whether Jesus Christ died on the cross. It is both a matter of history and a clear description of the central components of two religions. Both of these religions can’t be right on this issue! History either happened a certain way or it didn’t. Either Christ died on the cross or He didn’t. At least one of them is wrong! It is simply not reasonable to suggest that all religions are the same or all religions are true.
Talking Point #2: All Religions Eventually Lead to God
When a person says that all religions lead to God—they are really saying that all religions are right on the most central issues. This statement is something that we regularly hear in religious conversation. Once again, it’s important to have a common sense response. Here’s what I usually say:
If all religions eventually lead to God imagine the disappointment if two religions teach two different views of heaven. Think about the tragic implications if heaven is a morally perfect place or if heaven is a place of one’s greatest fantasies. Some people are going to end up hating the very place that they’ve been looking forward to for all of their lives.
If all religions eventually lead to God imagine the shock if two religions teach totally different concepts of God. Think of the shock these people will experience when they get to heaven and find out that the God they’ve been worshipping is not their God after all. Imagine the horror of getting to heaven and discovering that your version of God does not exist.
If all religions eventually lead to God how can God be consistent with Himself when multiple paths to Him clearly contradict each other? It seems unreasonable to hold that God can look at one group of people and say, “You can get in this way” and look at another group of people and say, “you can get to me this way”. Each of these religious paths requires that God be different on the inside. However, God is who He is—His attributes are what they are—He can’t vacillate from one group to another…It simply can’t work! God must be consistent with Himself!
Future blog posts will discuss specific reasons for whether or not the exclusive truth claims of Christianity are legitimate. However, it is very important for Christians to suggest that these two talking points simply don’t square with reason and the evidence. Remember, our long-term goal is be a guide to help our unchurched friends to consider the claims of Christianity rather than to dismiss our faith without even considering it.
If you want more information on this topic please consult my book, Footprints of Faith.