Saturday, 24 April 2010

The arrogant truth?

The previous post in this series from #nwa10 looked at an answer to the question 'Isn't it intolerant to claim that Jesus is the only way to God?'

Another objection that we looked at at New Word Alive is "Isn't it arrogant for Christians to claim that Jesus is the only way to God?"

You may have heard a story to illustrate this claim - it goes like this: In a room is an elephant and five blind scribes. Each of the scribes approaches the elephant from a different aspect. The first comes to the trunk - he feels the trunk and concludes that what he's presented with is a snake. The second is placed before the elephant's leg and says to the first 'it's not a snake, it's a tree!'. The third holds the tail and thinks it's a rope, and so on.

The point of the story is that each religion, or perhaps more specifically the leader of each religion has been revealed part of the big picture of God - they each have something to contribute, but noone can see the whole truth - each has part of the truth. As they all have a small part of the same whole truth, it's arrogant for any one of them - the person holding the tail, the religion with one piece of the jigsaw - to claim that they know it all and that others are wrong.

What's the problem with that? The big problem lies in what the person telling the parable is claiming. Their claim is that all the religions are blind and as such only have a part of the big picture. Fundamentally though, though they don't realise it, each religion is really just describing the same thing, just from a different aspect. So the obvious outworking of that is that for a Christian to say that Jesus is the only way to God and that other religions have got it wrong is arrogant.

The problem is obvious. If Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha or Moses are arrogant in their claims, then so is the parable teller. They're making an equally arrogant claim in saying that their way is right - that they're all just different paths up the same mountain with the same goal.

Is the solution to conclude that everyone is arrogant in claiming that their belief is right? I don't think so. The solution is to think about who is actually correct. Look at the evidence. If you're correct in saying that all paths lead to God, then it's not an arrogant thing to claim. If Jesus was telling the truth that he is the only way to God, it's not an arrogant thing to claim, he's just telling the truth.

The question is not whether it is arrogant for Jesus to claim that he is the only way to God, the question is: is it true? Can he substantiate that claim? If he can, then you still might not like it but it is a fact, and so it's not arrogant but it's something that demands a response.

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