THE NARROWNESS OF EXCLUSIVITY

SERIES: BARRIERS

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Journey Church

 

 

  • Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 (823)
  • There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12 (833)
  • What do you feel about other religions?
  • Underlying question/assumption: You think you’re right and everyone else is wrong.
  • This flies in the face of our current western culture
  • “One of the biggest mistakes humans make is to believe there’s only one way. Actually, there are many diverse paths leading to God.” – Oprah Winfrey

 

 

The most common response in our culture: inclusivism.

  • Inclusivism is the idea that no one has a lock on the truth. Instead all religions have some measure of truth, merely being different paths to the same God.
    • Atheism says all religions are false. Inclusivism says all religions are true.
  • What Christianity would say in response to this is that the philosophy of inclusivism generally comes from good intentions.

 

So how do Christians respond to the skeptic’s challenge of exclusivism?

 

  • First response: Law or principle of contradiction.

 

    • One of the three classic laws of thought in philosophy (Plato, Aristotle)

 

    • Law of contradiction: Contradictory statements can’t both be true at the same time.
      • To say that all belief systems are right or true at the same time doesn’t work (because they are not all the same)

 

    • This law doesn’t prove that Christianity is true or right or the only way. It says, “Either Christianity is right, or Buddhism is right, or Islam is right, or Atheism is right…” But they can’t all be right.

 

    • “If Christians are right about Jesus being God, then Muslims and Jews fail in a serious way to love God as God really is, but if Muslims and Jews are right that Jesus is not God but rather a teacher or a prophet, then Christians fail in a serious way to love God as God really is.”
      • Statement given by a Christian pastor, Jewish Rabbi, and Muslim Imam (met with cries of intolerance by many in the audience)

 

 

  • Mistake we make: we confuse cultural pluralism with metaphysical pluralism

 

      • Cultural Pluralism: Acceptance and celebration of different cultures, peoples, races, and religions
      • Metaphysical Pluralism: Accepting as true all the ideas, convictions, and worldviews of those people and religions.

 

    • Cultural pluralism is good and necessary (we should respect and even fight for the right of people to hold different views). But metaphysical pluralism is a disaster. Because all beliefs cannot be true without fundamentally changing what they are.

 

    • While we can fight for people’s rights to say what they believe, we do not have to conclude that what they believe is true.

 

 

  • Second response: Every worldview is by nature exclusivistic.

 

    • EXAMPLE: Islam is exclusivistic
      • Believe in One God (Allah), Muhammed is his prophet, heaven is a paradise of sensual pleasure for some, and hell is for those who oppose Allah and reject the teaching of Mohammed.
      • The only way to get to heaven is to convert to Islam.
      • Includes believing the six main doctrines (God, angels, scripture, Muhammed, the end times, and predestination)
      • Practicing the five duties if Islam: Statement of belief, prayer five times a day, giving of alms, fasting during Ramadan, pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a life if you are able

 

    • Buddhism is also an exclusive religion.
      • Siddhartha Guatama rebelled against Hinduism
      • Sikhism later rebelled against both Hinduism and Buddhism
      • Atheism rejects all these beliefs

 

    • It is impossible to find a worldview that isn’t exclusive in some way

 

    • Inclusivism is the most offensive position of all of them. Because it says that every worldview is actually wrong.

 

 

  • Third Response: Inclusivism excludes exclusivists

 

    • Two things happen when you try to be inclusive:
      • You exclude the exclusivists
      • You say that YOUR view on all religion and all truth is the right one – and everybody else’s is wrong

 

    • The blind men and the elephant (video)

 

    • “The story is constantly told in order to neutralize the affirmation of the great religions, to suggest that they learn humility and recognize the none of them can have more than one aspect of truth. But, of course, the real point of the story is the exact opposite…The story is told by someone who can see and is the immensely arrogant claim of one who sees the full truth all the world’s religions are only groping after. It embodies the claim to know the full reality (which it claims the religions can’t).” – Lesslie Newbigin

 

    • The moment you say, “No one is allowed to have a comprehensive (exclusive) view of reality,” YOU are claiming to have a comprehensive view of reality.
      • Just like when you say, “There is no such thing as absolute truth,” you are making an absolute statement.

 

 

  • Fourth response: Not all ideas are equal

 

    • When you say, “All religions or worldviews are equal, what do you mean?”
      • Amorite religion in OT – child sacrifice / Jim Jones / Hitler

 

    • The inclusivist position isn’t that all religions and worldviews are wrong, it’s that they are all right…

 

    • But in the marketplace of ideas, some are better than others.

 

      • Christianity has a better origin story than Atheism (week one)
        • Morality and first causes
      • Christianity has better answers for the existence of evil and suffering than Karma (Hinduism) or denial (New Age)

 

    • Some worldviews are simply better or more coherent than others when judged by the standard assessments of history, science, reason, and experience. All views are not equally acceptable or convincing.

 

What about the people who have never heard about Jesus? Is God going to judge all of them and condemn them to hell?

 

How will God deal with those who’ve never heard?

 

  • I do know that God is the God of all people.
  • The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. – 2 Chronicles 16:9 (343)
  • They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. – Romans 1:19-20 (857)

 

    1. So, no one has an excuse for outright ignoring or rejecting God. And God looks at the heart, not religion, of every person.

 

  • I do know there will be people in heaven, made right with God, who never heard the name of Jesus.

 

    1. All the people of the OT (Abraham, Noah, Rahab the prostitute) were made right with God by their faith. Jesus substitutionary sacrifice was applied to them.
    2. Scripture tells us people from every tribe, tongue, and ethnic group will be in heaven. But nobody will be in heaven because they lived a good life or because they were sincere, but only because of God’s gift of forgiveness and relationship made possible through Christ—accessed by faith.

 

 

  • I do know that God cannot be unfair.

 

    1. God looks at the heart – and God will not unfairly judge a person because of a lack of knowledge or religious conditioning.

 

  • Finally, I do know that God wants people to find confident assurance that they are right with Him, so He sent Christ.
  • But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. – John 20:31 (828)

 

 

The Big Question for you and me is not, “What about other religions?” or “How will God judge people who have never heard?” We don’t really know. But we do know that He cared enough about them to give His life for them. If He didn’t spare Jesus from the cross we can trust Him to be more than fair.

 

The Big Question for us is this: “What will we do with the claims of Jesus now that we HAVE heard?”


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