Can There Be One Right Religion?

Recently I was in a conversation with a friend, and he asked how I could say that Jesus is the only way. I simply responded, “I’m not saying it. Jesus said it. Take it up with him.”

He certainly didn’t expect that response. And I didn’t mean to be rude or abrupt. My point was that Jesus was the one who first made the claim, and he has the credentials to back it up. If Jesus is really divine, then he has more credentials to speak on eternal life than anyone. He is the only virgin-born, miracle- working, sinless, resurrected Son of God! You may not like the idea of Jesus being the only way (and there being one right religion), but if he truly is the Son of God and said he was the only way to salvation—can you afford to ignore his claim?

It would be nice if everybody could be right, but as simple reason and basic common sense tell us, all religions cannot be true in their core beliefs. By its very nature, truth is exclusive. If 1 + 1 = 2, then it doesn’t equal 3, 4, 5, and every other number. While all religions could possibly be wrong, it is not logically possible for all of them to be right when their claims differ so radically. Either they are all wrong or only one is right.

The chart below shows that all religions, even by their own claims, differ from one another substantively, having their own specific ideas of who God is (or is not) and how salvation may be attained.

Religion

Beliefs about God

Beliefs about Salvation

Beliefs about other Religions

Buddhism

No God

Enlightenment

False

Hinduism

Many Gods

Reincarnation

All True

Islam

Unitarian (Allah)

The Five Pillars

False

Judaism

Unitarian (YHWH)

The Law

False

Christianity

Trinitarian (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)

Grace

False

Many criticize Christianity for its exclusivity, but Christians are not the only group claiming to have the truth. Notice in the chart above that four of the five religions claim exclusivity. They believe that all other religions are false. Hindus often do not claim exclusivity. In fact, many are happy to say that Christianity is true. But the key is what they mean by it. Hindus believe all religions are true when they are subsumed within the Hindu system. In other words, according to Hinduism, Christianity is one medium by which people can experience reincarnation.

But what Hindus don’t mean is that Christianity is true on its own terms. So, like adherents of all other religions, Hindus actually believe Christianity is false, thereby joining every other religious group (including atheists and agnostics) in the belief that only their own worldview is true.

And yet, in another sense, Christianity is not exclusive at all, but is the most inclusive religion. Christ invites all unto himself. Christianity excludes no one who will believe, even though Christ himself offers the only way to be reconciled with God.

If Jesus rose from the dead, then Christianity is the one right religion. If Jesus did not rise, then Christianity is false, and possibly some other religion is true (see 1 Cor. 15:14-17).

This is why the resurrection of Jesus is the most important historical event for consideration. If you haven’t examined the evidence yet, such as my father and I lay out in the updated Evidence that Demands a Verdict, now may be the time.

Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a biblical worldview. Sean is an associate professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. He is the Resident Scholar for Summit California. Sean still teaches one high school Bible class, which helps him have exceptional insight into the prevailing culture so he can impart his observations poignantly to fellow educators, pastors and parents alike. In 2008, he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The Association of Christian Schools International awarded Exemplary Status to his apologetics training. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot School of Theology with a master’s degree in theology and another in philosophy. He earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies in 2014 from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities and conferences. He has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Backyard Skeptics, Cru, Youth Specialties, Hume Lake Christian Camps, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean has also appeared as a guest on radio shows such as Family Life Today, Point of View, Stand to Reason, Common Sense Atheism and the Hugh Hewitt Show. Sean has been quoted in many publications, including the New York Times. Sean is the author, co-author or editor of over 18 books including The Fate of the Apostles (Routledge, 2015); A New Kind of Apologist (Harvest House, 2016); The Beauty of Intolerance (Barbour, 2016); Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, with John Stonestreet (Baker, 2014); Is God Just a Human Invention? with Jonathan Morrow; and Understanding Intelligent Design, with William A. Dembski. Sean has also written multiple books with his father, Josh McDowell, including The Unshakable Truth, More Than A Carpenter and an update for Evidence that Demands a Verdict (2017). Sean is the general editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He has also written for YouthWorker Journal, Decision Magazine and the Christian Research Journal. Follow the dialogue with Sean as he blogs regularly at seanmcdowell.org. In April 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano. Sean played college basketball at Biola and was captain his senior year on a team that went 30-7.

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