For the most part, people in modern Western society don’t take kindly to the claims of Christians that there is only one true faith. They typically see it as arrogant and narrow-minded when we say that all religions other than the Christian one are basically mistaken.
Is it not the case, mainstream Westerners ask, that most religions encourage people to live morally upright lives? How can Christians be so arrogant as to think that theirs is the one true religion and all other religions are wrong? Instead, shouldn’t we be pleased when people practice a religion that teaches human beings to be good to each other? And, as far as relating to God is concerned, shouldn’t each person worship in the way that seems best for them personally?
When Christians are confronted with arguments like these, they are often at a loss as to how to respond. There is, however, no need for us to be troubled by them.
What Christians believe
Think for a moment about what we hold to be true. We believe that the one almighty God, in the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, became incarnate. This means that He joined Himself to a human nature to become the God-Man, Jesus Christ. We believe that this God-Man then lived on the earth among us, teaching and healing people. What an astounding thing! The infinite God became a human being and lived among us!
But it gets much, much more astonishing. We believe that this God-Man then sacrificed His life on the cross to rescue sinful people, and capped it all by rising from the dead! How totally and utterly amazing!
Non-Christian religions completely miss the point
Given the enormity of these things, it should be obvious that any religion which does not acknowledge them has completely missed the point of God’s dealings with our world. The God-Man died on a cross for human beings! If a religion misses that, it has failed spectacularly to understand who God is and what He has done.
That is not to say that everything in every non-Christian religion is false. It is true that various religions hold some correct beliefs about God and that they encourage good moral behavior in different ways. But in such cases, all we can really say is that these religions have some truth around the edges. The core is still fundamentally wrong. It cannot be otherwise if the death and resurrection of the God-Man are not recognized.
Unembarrassed to insist there is one true faith
When we are accused of arrogance and narrow-mindedness, then, let us not be embarrassed to insist that there is only one true faith. Jesus Christ is God incarnate who died and rose for the sins of the world, and any religion that denies this is hopelessly wide of the mark. We should be open and unashamed about taking our stand on this.
It makes no sense to accuse us of arrogance
Even if, for the sake of argument, we were to look at things from the perspective of someone who is not convinced of the truth of the Christian faith, charges of arrogance or narrow-mindedness against us still make no sense. It should be clear that for people who believe in the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, any religion that denies these things would be regarded as fundamentally mistaken. This has nothing at all to do with arrogance. It is just a logical inference from what we believe. And non-Christians should understand this.
In fact, it is actually quite ironic when we are accused of arrogance for our beliefs. In reality, believing that Jesus died on the cross for us is a humbling experience. We acknowledge that our guilt led to His crucifixion and that we are the recipients of an enormous favor He has done for us. This encourages humility rather than arrogance.
Even when we look at things from the perspective of a non-Christian, then, accusations of arrogance make no sense.
As it happens, however, the Christian faith really is true. Jesus Christ really was and is God incarnate. He really did die on the cross for our sins. And He really did rise victoriously from the dead.
In 1 John we are told:
“This is [God’s] commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ . . .” (English Standard Version)
The “we” here refers to all human beings. And the “name” is a Semitic way of referring to the very identity of a person.
This verse is therefore telling us that God commands all people to believe in Jesus Christ. Given who Christ is and what He has done, this is exactly what we would expect.