The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
–1 Timothy 1:5
According to our culture, if you claim that Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved, you are being intolerant. That leads to another objection that people have to the exclusivity of Christ: exclusivity promotes hatred. That is, if you claim that there is only one way to God, not only are you being intolerant, but you are actually being hateful toward other people. Years ago on an episode of “Larry King Live,” Larry King invited a couple of Christians and a couple of Jewish rabbis for a debate about religion. At one point, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said, “I am absolutely against any religion that says that one faith is superior to another. I don’t see how that is anything different than spiritual racism. It’s a way of saying that we are closer to God than you, and that’s what leads to hatred.” Why is it that the quest for truth has been replaced by the quest for tolerance? It is because of the unquestioned assumption that somehow truth leads to hatred.
This assumption has now spilled over into evangelical Christianity. I recently read some amazing statistics: According to new research, 84 percent of evangelical Christians believe the Bible is completely accurate. Yet when asked whether religious belief is a matter of personal opinion rather than objective truth, only 58 percent strongly disagreed. Furthermore, 42 percent say that God accepts the worship of all religions. How do you reconcile those beliefs? Christians believe the Bible is the truth, but they do not believe this truth necessarily applies to everyone. I think Christians have bought hook, line, and sinker this assumption that exclusivity leads to hatred. But is that contention logical?
Imagine for a moment that you have a small child at home, and they have an uncontrollable cough and a high fever. The doctor tells you that your child has pneumonia. You say, “No, my child cannot possibly have pneumonia.” But the doctor is insistent, so you say, “What makes you think your opinion is better than my opinion?” The doctor says, “I have seen hundreds of cases of pneumonia, and your child has all of the symptoms. The only way your child is going to get well is by taking a round of antibiotics.” Is that doctor being hateful when he says that your child is sick, or that there is only one way for your child to get well? Of course not. In fact, he is showing love toward you and your child by correctly diagnosing the problem and prescribing the only remedy. When you say, “Christ is the only way to be saved,” do not let people push you into believing that is being hateful. If without Christ all people are in danger of hell, the most loving thing we can do is to share the gospel with them.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Why Every Other Religion Is Wrong” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
“Should Christians Stop Trying To Convert Jews?” Larry King Live, CNN, January 12, 2000, http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0001/12/lkl.00.html; “The State Of Theology,” Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research, https://thestateoftheology.com/.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.