When It’s Wrong to Be Right: Other Religions

One of the problems with conservative Christians is that they are intolerant of other religions.  The religious right insists that their beliefs are correct and all the other religions are wrong.  In our pluralistic society, that is unacceptable.  This makes Christianity dangerous and creates some anger on the part of Christianity’s critics.

It is true that conservative Christianity (unlike some liberals) believes that Christianity is the truth and that other religions cannot bring someone to salvation or right relationship with God.  We hold to the words of Jesus: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV)  Salvation is only found through faith in Christ.

But is that really a reason for people to be angry with Christians?  First of all, Christianity is most definitely not the only exclusivist religion.  Jews believe that they and only they are the chosen people.  Muslims believe that salvation is only found in the affirmation of Allah as the one God and Muhammad as his prophet.  Buddhists believe that enlightenment comes specifically through the teachings of the Buddha, such as the Eightfold Path.  Hindus have too wide of a belief system for me to summarize here.  Even the Baha’i, who claim to be the most inclusivist, as they include parts of the other world religions, have their own form of exclusivism.  If I walked up to a devote Jew or Muslim and said “Hey, our religions are really just the same,” that would not be tolerant, it would be offensive to them.  We are not doing other religions any favors by reducing everything to the lowest common denominator.  We are actually being more respectful toward other religions when we allow each of us to retain our exclusive claims to the truth.

There is something else that needs to be said.  When Christians say that Jesus is the only way, it is not because we hate people who are different from us and want to insist that everyone is like us.  We begin with the conviction that faith in Jesus is the only way and the natural result is conversations with people of other religions.  We want Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus to come to Christ, not because we hate them, but because we love them!  You may disagree with our starting point, but I hope you can respect what we do with it.  I know I respect people such as Muslims or Jehovah’s Witnesses who share their life with me.  If they knew something I needed, I would want to hear it.  If you knew some information that life or death consequences for someone, what would you do?  Would you keep it to yourself because you would not want to impose your beliefs?  Or would you pass on the information so as to allow the person the choice to accept or reject the information?  That is where conservative Christians are coming from when it comes to sharing our faith with people of other religions.

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