Do only Christians believe in exclusivism? Christians are often chided for believing that Jesus is the only way to heaven. How narrow-minded. How arrogant! Out of all the beliefs out there, and all of the different gods, why think yours is the only right one?
We’ve talked before about the justification for believing that Jesus is the only way to heaven. It has nothing to do with arrogance. It is a logical conclusion from the teachings of Jesus, backed up by His rising from the dead. When Christians make this claim, it is out of concern for other’s souls, not a glib claim of secret knowledge.
Do You Think You’re Right?
One thing often gets overlooked by Christians facing this challenge, however. The person making the claim that we are arrogant for believing our view is right, also happens to believe that their view is right. And they don’t have an issue with sharing that belief with you or others in their lives.
What’s more, virtually everyone believes that their view of things in the right one. It only makes sense. No one willingly holds beliefs they know to be false. We all believe that our views are the correct ones. This is not exclusive to Christians.
This idea of exclusivism, as it’s known, isn’t unique to Christianity. And I thought it might be good to look at some other worldviews and see what their views on God and salvation are. Are they really more inclusive than Christianity, or are they equally exclusive?
Naturalism/Physicalism- The belief that everything that exists is material. There is no immaterial or spiritual world. No one is saved. When we die, we simply wink out of existence. We do not have a choice in the matter. No matter what you believe, your fate is sealed.
Islam- Muslims believe that good works will get you into heaven. But no one knows for sure if their works have earned them entry into heaven until the final judgement of god. Only those who believe in Allah will be saved. Believing in any other god is the sin of “Shirk”, an unpardonable sin that excludes you from paradise.
Mormonism- Mormons believe that human beings get salvation both through the grace of God and their own actions. Part of the work of salvation has been done by the atonement of Jesus Christ, in that all human beings are guaranteed resurrection, but to attain the full quality of eternal life, human beings also have work to do. Mormons will baptize people without their knowledge or consent, so people could wind up in heaven against their will.
Jehovah’s Witnesses- Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that salvation is possible only through Christ’s ransom sacrifice and that individuals cannot be saved until they repent of their sins and call on the name of Jehovah. Salvation is described as a free gift from God, but is said to be unattainable without good works that are prompted by faith. Jehovah god is the only way to heaven.
Buddhism- Buddhism takes many different forms in the countries it is practiced in. This makes it challenging to describe a single view of salvation. But in essence, Buddhism focuses on becoming enlightened so that one can remove suffering from their life. There are some groups that believe in reincarnation. You can either be reincarnated into a higher or lower lifeform depending on how good you are. You either go up or down on the scale, however. These are the only two options.
Hinduism- Salvation for a Hindu is called Moksha. Moksha is when an enlightened human being is freed from the cycle of life-and-death (the endless cycle of death and reincarnation) and comes into a state of completeness. They then become one with God. Reincarnation is the only option until one escapes as mentioned above.
Different Forms Of Exclusivism
So, do only Christians believe in exclusivism? As you can see, all of these religions and worldviews are exclusive in their own ways. They all believe that their views are the correct one. So Christians are far from alone in their assertion that their view is the correct one.
So why does Christianity catch so much grief for being exclusive when practically everyone else believes their views are correct as well? Some of it may just be ignorance of other religions.
But the more likely explanation is that this tends to be an objection that is seldom challenged by Christians. This is often used as a conversation stopper by challengers to the Christian worldview. But being able to gently point out the flaws in this line of thinking can go a long way to keeping the conversation going. Don’t let this faulty reasoning derail your conversations!
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