Summary: A look at the uniqueness claims of Christ and Christianity and does this mean that everyone who has never heard of the name Jesus is automatically condemned to hell.
(4) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
(6) I am the way, the truth and the life
(12) Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
If I had one fault growing up it was my arrogance. Actually, that is a bit arrogant, if I had one fault, I had many. But this one was perhaps flung in my face by one particular guy in my High School, called Danny Shaw, who said he hated me because I was so arrogant. Perhaps it just the fact that if I disagreed with everyone else in the class, I thought I was right and they were wrong. Maybe it was the Maths classes were more often than not I was right but it was probably the RE lessons.
In those days RE was mostly a joke in my school, we had to have 40 minutes a week, but there were no RE teachers. Instead all the teachers took a hand, but they weren’t really interested apart from one or two who took the opportunity to push there atheistic anti-supernatural beliefs on the class. I had such a teacher and in my more aggressive days, yes for those of you who find it hard to believe I was more aggressive in pushing my opinions than I am now, it’s true I was far worse then. Well lets say I was more interested in being right than showing love, and those RE lessons turned into me vs. the teacher and most of the class. In fact my English oral grade was also gained through the many debates we had in English class. I was arrogant in the way I pursued those debates.
But the accusation is made that the very fact that Christianity makes the claim to be the only right religion is arrogant no matter how lovingly or humbly the case is made. Is it arrogant for Christians to say that Christianity is the only right religion and everyone who is not a Christian is going to hell? How can we possibly say that? Although Christianity is by far the biggest religion in the world, how can we just say that billions of people are wrong? In fact we take it even further not only do we condemn all non-Christians but we also take on the Christian world and rule on what Christians are in and which are out. How can we possibly do this?
It might be useful to define arrogance first. So I surfed the web to an online dictionary, mine is in Scotland where my Mum uses it to check scrabble words, to get the following definition. A feeling or an impression of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or presumptuous claims. In my words an undeserved feeling of superiority making claims which cannot be substantiated.
Well lets start by recognising these extraordinary claims are not unique to modern Christianity but inherent in early Christianity. Both before the Jews who made similar claims about Judaism and the Greco-Roman world, which was even more pluralistic and accepting of all religions than today. As we read Peter in his speech to the Jewish elders claims that salvation is found in Jesus alone.
But it goes back further than that. We also read Jesus making exactly the same claims about himself. Talk about being arrogant, Jesus claimed he was the way, the truth and the life. Not only this but he also claimed that he was the only method of approach to God. Not only was this a very arrogant view for anyone to make, this was also a wandering teacher who owned nothing, came from a rural backwater, had only been at the teaching business for 3 years and even hung out with sinners. Very arrogant unless it was true.
Therefore we have it, the Bible claims these uniqueness and truth claims. However, it still doesn’t really explain why. At least not here. It just makes the statements and we are expected to believe them. Can we do a little better and at least understand why it is so and possibly revise some of the statements made in the introduction in light of this.
Uniqueness of God (Judaism) and Heaven
It all begins with Monotheism, the idea that there is only one God. God told Moses that he was the only God. We heard the Shema, the classic Jewish text from the Old Testament, which says “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” There is only one God. Rather than there being many gods who each control one aspect of nature or rule over one part of the earth or one people, there is only one true God, who created and sustains the Universe.