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.”
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.
“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.”
I think we need to make several important responses to this.
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 because…
- you and they are made in the image of God 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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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?
 John 14:6-7, NIV.
 Ibid., 08:48.
 Matthew 5:44.
 Genesis 1:27.
 Ephesians 2:1-5, Romans 5:10.
 John Dickson, Bullies and Saints An Honest Look at the Good and Evil of Christian History, (Zondervan Reflective, 2021), 33.
 Romans 11:36, NIV.