Dear Believer, It is Arrogant to Think You Have the Only True Religion

Christianity claims to be the only, ultimately true religion. Jesus is recorded as having said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”[1]

The Father Jesus is talking about here is God, you can tell that from the context of these verses. So – Jesus is claiming to be the only way to get to God. If religion is defined as us getting connected with God, then that’s a pretty restrictive view of religion. Right? Jesus is saying – Christianity is the only correct one. The other religions might be helpful in various ways for people’s lives. But – in the end – they don’t get you to God like Jesus does.

In their video, Plumbline Pictures claim it is arrogant to think that any one religion is the only right one – Dear Believer: Why Do You Believe? (ORIGINAL) – YouTube.[2]

“Isn’t it time to stop thinking that we are somehow the reason why this universe was made? That our culture is somehow better than other cultures? Its time to learn how the universe really is, even if that deflates our conceits, and forces us to admit we do not have all the answers. You must confront these fundamental questions.”[3]

I think we need to make several important responses to this.

Initial Response

First – I agree with their statement that it is time to learn how the universe is. It is important to follow the data where it leads. We must hold lightly to our assumptions if we are going to honestly confront fundamental questions. Because inevitably, we will not understand everything. This is absolutely a helpful approach to take. And – notice – it cuts many ways. It is a call to everyone whatever their persuasion, whether they are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, secular humanist, or whatever.

Second – I can’t speak for other belief systems, but Christianity was not founded on the idea that Christians are better than anyone else. Jesus laid down the foundations very explicitly:

  • love your enemies[4] because…
  • you and they are made in the image of God[5] but…
  • your sin has broken your relationship with God, so believe in me and my death and resurrection will count for your sinfulness and make you right again with God.[6]

Christians don’t claim they are better than others. They claim that everyone is of the utmost value, because we are made in God’s image. John Dickson notes that, while the Christian church has a chequered history living this out, history shows that these foundations were a rationale for “caring for the poor, burying the dead, starting hospitals, and even freeing slaves.”[7]

It’s interesting to note that often online, it is the internet atheist who looks down their nose at professing Christians. Christianity and Jesus as its founder has no time for this common superior thinking.

Third – the Bible does not claim the universe was created for humans. Rather, it was created because God is God – he’s creative, powerful, and he made the universe for himself.

“For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”[8]

Deeper Response

But having said all of this – I think there is a deeper assumption being made here and it is that it is arrogant for the believer to think they have the only right religion.

Here’s two problems with that statement.

First – ideas are not arrogant. How can an idea possess an attitude all of its own? No – ideas are simply ideas. Following the evidence where it leads isn’t arrogant, it is accepting the unwavering uniqueness and exclusivity of the truth of a situation. In a murder case, there can be many suspects, but only one culprit or culprits. Truth by its very nature is exclusive. We know this. But a truth claim is not arrogance.

Do you know what is arrogant? People. People can be arrogant, because arrogance is a haughty, superior, and rude way of speaking to another person. Now – the Plumbline video voiceover is polite in its use of vocabulary, but I detect a lot of “talking down” to the religious believer in their video. It sounds from the video that the video narrator is privy to some privileged knowledge, and every religious believer on the planet is living in a version of the supposed Dark Ages. To me – that sounds very arrogant.

Second – truth claims are either true or false. Wesaw earlier that Jesus makes a truth claim, that he is the only way to God for people. That claim is either true, or its not. Maybe our culture doesn’t like the sound of this exclusive truth claim, preferring to think that everyone has a bit of the truth about God and no religion is necessarily the right or wrong one. Okay – but notice that this attitude doesn’t make Jesus’ words false. Also – it is itself an exclusive truth claim. The claim that all religions lead to God is an exclusive one, but where does the claim come from? It certainly doesn’t come from the lips of Jesus. Personally, I think we should prioritise what Jesus says on the matter and defer to that.

Also – claiming that all religions are false (as the video seems to do) is also an exclusive truth claim. It seems that on matters such as these, we cannot get away from making exclusive truth claims. And the reality is that these claims are either true or false.

Summary

Is Christianity arrogant? Not at all. It makes an exclusive truth claim like every other belief system on the planet – atheism included. Christian truth claims are not arrogant just like lawyers and scientists aren’t arrogant when they are seeking the truth about a state of affairs.

The question is – how are we going about talking to people about our truth claim? Are we acting in an arrogant way or are we valuing the people we speak to as Jesus said we must?


[1] John 14:6-7, NIV.

[2] Dear Believer: Why Do You Believe? (ORIGINAL), Plumbline Pictures, posted 3rd May 2014, accessed 21st December, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl_TrvIIcBY.

[3] Ibid., 08:48.

[4] Matthew 5:44.

[5] Genesis 1:27.

[6] Ephesians 2:1-5, Romans 5:10.

[7] John Dickson, Bullies and Saints An Honest Look at the Good and Evil of Christian History, (Zondervan Reflective, 2021), 33.

[8] Romans 11:36, NIV.

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Respond

I live in the UK, I'm married to Janet and I'm passionate about proposing a case for the historic Christian faith. You can find me on Twitter at @stuhgray.

20 thoughts on “Dear Believer, It is Arrogant to Think You Have the Only True Religion”

  1. 1st: I don’t believe Jesus ever said anything like that; as a Jew that would have been ludicrous. And if he did ever say anything even remotely like that he would have been referring to Judaism, not “Christianity.” He wouldn’t have even known what that was….

    2nd: All religions believe they are the legitimate path to salvation or why would they exist? Pretty silly idea if they were espousing a religion and they agreed that an alternative one would also provide a safe path to salvation, no?

    3rd: Atheist don’t make any such claims to anything. We have no such “creed” per se, we just don’t believe in mythology or that it has any real bearing on life at all. It’s all just man-made-up nonsense.

    1. 1st – Well – please convince me that he never said that? Don’t just assert that.
      It seems to me the one thing you got right here is that Jesus was Jewish. For the rest – you have to form an argument to claim that John’s gospel is ahistorical (argument – not just assertion) and the first Christians misunderstood Jesus teaching from the start. Because – the historical evidence suggests the first Jewish Christians worshipped him as God. Incredible for Jews? Yup – that’s kinda the point.

      2nd – agreed. That would be a silly idea.

      3rd – that’s right. Atheists don’t make any exclusive truth claims at all. LOL! Now you are just trolling me…

      1. the gospel of John doesn’t even agree with the other gospels, so there is no reason to think it is an accurate presentation of the events claimed. The historical evidence has many many differnt kinds of Christianity from the very beginning.

        do show what exclusive truth claims atheists supposedly make. We do conclude that there is no god or gods since there is no evidence. You also make the same conclusions when it comes to other gods. Is this a truth claim?

      2. Great illustration of the issue of “arrogance” in how we speak to people. Thanks.

        If you aren’t making truth claims, then I can ignore everything you claim on your comment. Because – well – it doesn’t matter (!) Of course – you are making truth claims – the claims just sound the normal gonzo to me.

        Hope you are well, tho!

      3. Well, Respond, nice to see you make yet another baseless accusation. Do show how my response “illustrates” the issue of arrogance. How am I wrong? Where indeed is this “gonzo”?

        no surprise you can’t show a single “do show what exclusive truth claims atheists supposedly make” as I asked. Hmmm, wonder why.

        You ignore everything I claim no matter what, being unable to refute my points. Nice excuse you’ve invented for yourself.

      4. Okey-dokey friend. Perhaps I’ll respond to your odd assertions about the nature of Christianity in another blog. I’m sure you will stay tuned…as always! 😃

      5. Ok, well, first of all, we have no idea who wrote “John” since he doesn’t identify himself or describe himself as an eyewitness. But to call it “historical” is to completely misidentify it. Furthermore there’s no “historical evidence” to suggest Jesus’ first followers worshipped him as a god, only Scripture. Scripture is the claim, not the evidence. Overall, Jews rejected Jesus’ message because it completely missed the mark in terms of what/how/who the messiah would be and do. Lastly, we don’t even know what the real Jesus actually said or did since we have no original documents, just fourth and fifth century copies of copies of copies, ad infinitum. We know there were additions and interpolations o’plenty matching older copies with new copies so we can only guess what he MAY have said. I refer to the Jesus Seminar in which they identify only 14 sayings that they believe are authentically Jesus.

        As far as atheism is concerned, yes we make no truth assertions about certain things because there is no evidence to support such claims. Do we know there is no god? No, but it is not our place to prove it; YOU are making an assertion that there is a god it is therefore incumbent upon YOU to provide the evidence for such a claim. I do not believe there is any kind of god but I can tell you that Christianity is just plain nonsense, pure and simple. There is zero extra-biblical evidence for Jesus’ life and – judging by the claims of his adherents – someone, somewhere should have written about him. We know Josephus’ “testimonium flimsyanus” is a second century interpolation and Pliny references are to “Chrestian’s” not to Jesus himself. Pliny’s lack of understanding about the Christians also demonstrates he had not had any contact or experience with them at all. Very strange for a guy that walked on water, or fed thousands with 5 loaves and 7 fish, or whose death caused world-wide earthquakes that, strangely, no one else in the world has every documented. Nonsense.

        Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and there simply isn’t any you can point to that substantiates your wild assertions about Jesus or the existence of a god.

      6. Ah – the knee-jerk skeptic response to the New Testament.

        Of course we know who the Gospel authors were. Quite apart from the internal evidence in the text itself, we have corroborating evidence from the church fathers in the second century. Papias (125) identifies the authors, including the author of John’s gospel. Similarly, we know Jesus was being worshipped within 25 years of his death and claimed resurrection. So much evidence of this exists in Paul’s writings which predate the Gospels by some time – and of course the church fathers like Papias confirm this in the early second century. The skeptical idea that Jesus deity evolved later on is simply not supported by the evidence at all. It is skeptically placed UPON the evidence. How convenient that the skeptic replies “The text is not historical so it’s not evidence.” Convenient and just false.

        The whole point is that Jesus message challenged the expectations of the Jewish audience. And the New Testament textual tradition is absolutely a strength not a weakness. The earliest fragment is from John’s Gospel and is dated early second century – so the gap between authorship and copy is brief in historical terms. There are 3 times more NT manuscripts within the first 200 years than the average Greco-Roman author has in 2000 years (Dan Wallace). Yes, we can see the variants in the vast textual tradition, but they are at a very minor level – 400,000 variants but less than 1% could affect the meaning of a verse, and none are found that do. Your characterization of the gospels is simply mistaken. And your appeal to authority (The Jesus Seminar) is very surprising to me – I was expecting popular level (not scholarly level) Bart Ehrman. There’s a difference between the two Barts because when he’s talking to people who know what they are talking about…he knows he can’t get away with quite so many of his skeptical antics…

        You’ve got some more work to do to understand the Josephus situation. Historians don’t need it to understand early Christianity – yes it looks like it has been interpolated – but the original text can most likely be reclaimed and that text does corroborates various points.

        And – extraordinary claims do NOT require extraordinary evidence. David Hume’s thinking is well out of date now – tho skeptical thinking hasn’t realised that yet. Rather – if the miraculous events that are reported by history did NOT occur, then what is the likelihood that the historical footprint of Christianity and its effect on the world would exist? This is the contemporary Bayesian probability theory.

        Here’s some more response from me to knee-jerk skepticism on the New Testament:
        https://respondblogs.wordpress.com/2019/10/10/has-the-teaching-in-the-new-testament-become-corrupted-over-time/

        https://respondblogs.wordpress.com/2019/10/11/were-there-many-christianities-to-begin-with-or-just-one/

        https://respondblogs.wordpress.com/2019/10/16/three-reasons-why-the-gospels-record-history/

        https://respondblogs.wordpress.com/2019/10/18/were-there-lost-christianities/

        https://respondblogs.wordpress.com/2019/10/23/was-the-new-testament-canon-assembled-hundreds-of-years-after-jesus/

      7. No, there is NO textual evidence of the gospel authors; none! How you guys just jaunt into misrepresentation and subterfuge to support your mythology but it remains just that; mythology. Please point it to me the evidence that demonstrates who wrote Mark, Matthew, etc., because there is none. They do not identify themselves nor even claim to be eyewitnesses. volume of re-writes also doesn’t mean a thing except that you have more deviation; more deletions, interpolations, etc. And the Bible is your CLAIM, NOT your EVIDENCE. You don’t prove your claim WITH your claim.

        Again, please point out the evidence i would be happy to research but don’t send more nonsense conjecture, evidence please. And good luck!

      8. You want me to point out the evidence? Sure – this is not controversial or difficult as it is standard New Testament scholarship. I’ll do more than point to evidence – i’ll point to the evidence AND to the arguments for authorship of the synoptic gospels and John.

        If you do want to explore the historical evidence and arguments based on external + internal evidence for the authorship of the synoptic gospels and John – then you can do so in a couple of ways.

        First – you could explore Eusebius yourself by reading:
        Eusebius – The History of the Church From Christ to Constantine, translated by G. A. Williamson, revised and edited by Andrew Louth, Penguin Books, 1965, 1989.

        Second – you could let Craig L. Blomberg do the heavy lifting for you and explain the historical arguments for authorship to you based on early sources including Eusebius, and his record of Papias. For his assesment of John’s gospel specifically:
        Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the New Teatament Countering the Challenges to Evangelical Christian Beliefs, (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2016), 153 – 160

        Hope this helps, friend.

      9. No, no no, sorry. You see I‘ve already done my due diligence on this subject and there is no evidence. Ancient writers – authentic writers, that is – always identified themselves in the beginning of the writing; “I Herodotus, have written this history……” or “I Thucydides have written” etc. The gospels do not do this anywhere. Furthermore, no writer would call a document “The Gospel According to Matthew” or Mark or whatever. Also, they do not identify themselves as eyewitnesses anywhere which any eyewitness writer would have naturally done. Even Luke contends to be cleaning up some discrepancies for his friend Theophilus. these books didn’t even have a name until the very late 2nd century. That’s a historical fact, period. Also, I am thoroughly familiar with Eusebius and he is the last source you should use since he changed his writings a number of times but, also, he didn’t write until the mid to late FOURTH CENTURY! Hundreds of years afterward and also as a Christian! Not reliable in any sense of the word.

        Dispute your objections (just because you NEED to make your story real, NOT because you’re investigating the veracity of it) we know a LOT about the gospels historically. ButI need to hear EXPLICIT, UNADULTERATED, EVIDENCE, PERIOD. Believe me, whatever you reply back is going to be 1 of 2 things:

        1)Controversial, or

        2) Complete nonsense.

      10. That Eusebius quotes Papias from the second century – who was a friend of the Apostles – is neither 1 nor 2. And you would know that if you were familiar with Eusebius. Sounds to me like the claims of Christianity are contrary to your worldview. And so – you need to dismiss the historical evidence. You won’t be the first to do that, friend.

      11. I don’t see any compelling reason why Eusebius writing about Pappias or Papias’ supposed “friendship” with the Apostles provides any clarity or proof of anything.

        I’m still waiting for the “evidence….” Still haven’t heard any evidence just a lot of blather about how my worldview doesn’t coordinate with Christianity, of course out does not. But I keep hearing you talk about evidence and you haven’t provided a single shred of it as yet.

        Waddaya got? I’m listening……

      12. But this is how historical verification of sources work – internal evidence , external evidence – witnesses, and close proximity of this to the events. It is also how the criminal justice system works. If you were on a jury and you threw out evidence and witness close to the events in question with no good reason – eyebrows would raise 😂 Similar situation here.

      13. BTW: You are referring not to Papias’ writings – because all we have are snippets, tiny fragments of COPIES of his writings – but to Eusebius’ references to IRENAEUS, written over a hundred years later – big difference when it comes to religious writings.

        From Prof Bart Ehrman:

        But Papias himself, in the preface of his work, makes it clear that he himself neither heard nor saw in person any of the holy apostles. Instead, he declares that he received the matters of faith from those known to them. As he says:

        “I also will not hesitate to draw up for you, along with these expositions, an orderly account of all the things I carefully learned and have carefully recalled from the elders; for I have certified their truth. For unlike most people, I took no pleasure in hearing those who had a lot to say, but only those who taught the truth, and not those who recalled commandments from strangers, but only those who recalled the commandments which have been given faithfully by the Lord and which proceed from the truth itself.”

        Still waiting on that proof.

      14. That’s right, friend. When you adopt a skeptical stance…it’s like acid eating away at the evidence that supports the events and claims you don’t like.

        Can we get another jury member over here? Someone who hasn’t pre decided the result of the case? 😂

        At last we get to bad Bart! Took you a while.

        Of course Bart concedes his skepticism didn’t start with textual criticism tho. I believe he has publicly admitted it started with the problem of evil. Because these issues are unresolved for him – it produces skeptical acid which now eats away at the reliability of the textual evidence for him. And he passes that acid around his students. His skepticism on the textual evidence is by no means mainstream in NT scholarship however!! It’s popular level only.

        Ah well. At least keen internet skeptics have another friend to quote when making their points.

  2. “Dear Believer, It is Arrogant to Think You Have the Only True Religion”

    Yep, it certainly is, and its even more amusing when Christians think that their version is the only true religion, unable to even convince each other.

    “It is important to follow the data where it leads.”

    No data shows that some god exists, despite centuries of looking. Indeed, religion has only followed science, discarding more and more of its baseless claims and tryingto desperately claim that the rest are “really” true, you just can’t take them literally.

    “Second – I can’t speak for other belief systems, but Christianity was not founded on the idea that Christians are better than anyone else.”

    That’s quite untrue. The bible’s many authors claim that only Jews, then Christians are the “chosen ones”, favored by this god. That is directly claiming that you are better than anyone else, the best friends of the creator of the universe. Paul claims that everyone else is a “vessel” deemed for destruction. Your Jesus calls anyone who doesn’t follow him a dog.

    I also find the claim of “love your enemies” amusing since this character also says that anyone who doesn’t accept him should be brought before him and murdered and that they deserve eternal torture. That is not love; that’s a petty abuser.

    “Third – the Bible does not claim the universe was created for humans. Rather, it was created because God is God – he’s creative, powerful, and he made the universe for himself.”

    Also not supported by your bible. This god created everything for the humans it needs to worship it. If it didn’t need humans, then there would be no point in creating them.

    “First – ideas are not arrogant. How can an idea possess an attitude all of its own?”

    ROFL. Way to miss the point. No one is saying the “idea” is an entity nor that it is arrogant. Christians, *you*, are arrogant. Adults who make believe that their imaginary friend exists and agrees with them deserve to be “talked down to” since you are indeed living in a dark age of superstitious, harmful nonsense.

    There is no reason to assume that the claims of theists are true when not one of you can show this to be the case. That all religions are false is the default position.

    “Wesaw earlier that Jesus makes a truth claim, that he is the only way to God for people.”

    no evidence for support of this.

    “Okay – but notice that this attitude doesn’t make Jesus’ words false.”

    Doesn’t make it true either.

    “Personally, I think we should prioritise what Jesus says on the matter and defer to that.”

    Remove “Jesus” and fill in with name of any religious type, and you’ll see just how pathetically arrogant that is, being nothing more than a claim of “because I said so”.

    “Christian truth claims are not arrogant just like lawyers and scientists aren’t arrogant when they are seeking the truth about a state of affairs.”

    they have facts. You have nothing, and again, Christians can’t even agree amongst themselves.

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