A ‘Gospel Bite’ – a short answer to a commonly raised objection to the gospel.
Pluralism – the belief that all religions point to God – is one of the major challenges put to modern Christians. It appears in so many forms: ‘You Christians are so arrogant as to think you alone have the truth!’ or ‘My own view is more open: I like to think of all religions as containing their own truth’, or ‘What makes your religion so special when there are so many Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists in the world?’
There is no way a simple ‘gospel bite’ is going to settle an issue this explosive. Nevertheless, one important aspect of our response might involve ‘blaming’ Jesus for the views we hold as Christians. It was, after all, Jesus who made such grandiose claims. Christians can’t help it if they find themselves convinced by what Jesus said. Any passage in which Jesus claims universal authority is pertinent to this topic (Matt 28:16-20; Mark 14:60-65; Luke 24:45-47; John 14:5-6). In the following example I quote the famous passage from John’s gospel:
I understand what you are saying, but it’s important to realize that Christians don’t think they possess the truth; not at all. They simply look at Jesus’ life and find themselves convinced by his teaching and deeds. I mean, Jesus was the one who said he had universal authority over the world. He was once asked by a friend about the way to God. He replied ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ Christians didn’t make that up. You can’t really blame a Christian for taking seriously the words of Christ, can you? What do you make of Jesus?
A more Philosophical approach might refer to John 14:8-10, where Jesus claims to be one with God the Father:
You ask: ‘What makes Christianity so special?’ Well, I think it boils down to a unique claim that Jesus made. One of his followers once asked him to show them what God was like. You know what Jesus said in reply? He said, ‘If you have seen me, you have seen God the Father.’ Jesus alone of all the great religious founders said that he himself was the revelation of God. People don’t have to rely on religion or guesswork; they can just look at his life and see what God is like. Jesus is the ‘photo’ of God, if you like. For me, that’s what separates Jesus from the other religious claims. Have you thought much about Christ?
Such replies will not satisfy all of the questions relating to pluralism. For instance, people may respond to the above ‘gospel bite’ with: ‘Yes, but how do you know all the stuff about Jesus is true in the first place?’ This will give you an opportunity to talk about the historical reliability of Jesus and the gospel. Christianity, uniquely among the world religions, is a historical faith. When people ask questions about history, they are on our turf. In any case, answers similar to those above may provide a starting point for a helpful discussion about the truly unique claims of Jesus.
This ‘Gospel Bite’ is take from John Dickson’s book The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission (Zondervan, 2010), 208-9.