By: Brian Chilton | January 23, 2017
A good friend of mine recently discussed a problem that he had. According to my friend, a certain Christian group had used intimidation tactics on his daughter in an attempt to bring her to salvation. Let me preface this discussion by saying that intimidation tactics should never be used under any circumstance! God grants us the ability to respond to his grace. Thus, Christians make a grave mistake by attempting to intimidate someone to salvation using scare tactics.
However, my friend brought up an important discussion about the exclusivity of Christ. Is Jesus the only way to heaven or is he one of a vast array of paths to God’s heaven? This question is an extremely important one and cannot simply be answered in sound bites, but through a thorough discussion on the issues. Is Jesus the exclusive way to heaven? Let’s find out.
- Truth is exclusive by nature.
Truth is best understood by the so-called correspondence theory of truth. That is to say, truth is what corresponds with reality. The Greek term used in the New Testament for truth is “aletheia.” Aletheia is defined as that which corresponds with reality. Greek philosopher Aristotle in his book Metaphysics defined truth as the following: “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true; so that he who says of anything that it is, or that it is not, will say either what is true or what is false.” In other words, true statements are confirmed with reality while false statements do not confer with reality, or, as Groothius notes, truth is “a belief or statement is true only if it matches with, reflects or corresponds to the reality it refers to.” Truth is also known by the four major laws of logic which are:
- The law of identity. The law of identity is represented as p = p (p is p). A thing is what it is. Think of the classic phrase, “It is what it is.” The statement is essentially a declaration of the law of identity. A tree is in reality a tree. Water is in reality water.
- The law of noncontradiction. That is, p = ~(~p ) (p is not not p). Here again, Aristotle helps our understanding as he notes “Nothing can both be and not be at the same time in the same respect.” A thing can not be its negation. A tree is not a non-tree. To say that a computer is a boat breaks the law of noncontradiction (unless a computer is made into a boat). Computers are computers and boats are boats.
- The law of excluded middle. That is, p V ~p (p or not p). The law of excluded middle states that a thing must either be or not be, but cannot be both. A “factual statement and its denial cannot be both true.” A statement is either true or false but cannot be both.
- The law of bivalence. This law is extremely close to the law of excluded middle. The core difference is that the law of bivalence acknowledges that each declarative statement holds one truth value. Either something is true or it is not.
Now how does this help us answer whether Jesus is the exclusive way to heaven? It does so in helping to set the parameters as we evaluate truth claims. Now, let’s move on to our next section (don’t worry, the following sections won’t be as complicated).
- All world religions make exclusive claims.
Because modern people do not like to claim that anyone is wrong, it is particularly difficult for individuals when it comes to world religions. Many are tempted to believe that all religions are true and serve as multiple paths to the same God. That would be nice and I wish I could say that it is so. However, the inconvenient truth is that all world religions make exclusive claims (not just Christianity). These exclusive claims differ greatly. For instance, atheists deny God’s existence. Agnostics claim that it is not possible to know if God exists. Buddhists are agnostic and believe in the wheel of reincarnation. The Buddhist’s goal to reach nirvana, which is essentially nothingness. The Hindu believes that God has revealed himself in multiple manifestations through various avatars (gods and goddesses). Their goal is to also escape the wheel of reincarnation but one will reach an utopia where there is oneness with God instead of nothingness. Deists claim that there is one God, but the one God does not perform miracles and does not hold personal relationships with humanity. Theists include Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Muslims claim that Muhammed is the final prophet and that God has no son. Orthodox Jews deny that Jesus is the Messiah. However, Christians both claim that Jesus is the Son of God and is the promised Messiah. So, we cannot say that all religions are true because all religions make very different claims. So how does one know the truth? One must follow the chain of truth.
- The chain of truth is exclusive.
As a Christian, turned agnostic, turned Christian again, I found that following the chain of truth leads to the ultimate truth. The chain of truth follows the following questions.
- Does truth exist? If no, then your pursuit ends because nothing is knowable. If yes, your pursuit continues. It stands to reason that truth exists because no one would know anything if truth did not exist. Logical absurdities are the end result of a lack of truth. Certain chaos ensues! So, yes, truth exists.
- Is truth knowable? If no, then your pursuit ends leading to a lack of certainty about anything. If yes, your pursuit continues. Truth is knowable because we have the capacity to learn facts and figures about the world. If it is possible to learn information about reality, then yes, truth is knowable.
- Does God exist? If no, then you can move on to atheism and/or Buddhist philosophies. One would need to explore the possibility of reincarnation to accept Buddhism. If yes, then your pursuit continues. Are there good reasons for believing that God exists? Absolutely! Cosmological, teleological (design), moral, informational, ontological, interpersonal, consciousness (and NDEs), experiential, aesthetic (i.e., value and purpose), and philosophical (particularly Plantinga’s warranted belief and the necessary beings) arguments all plead for a strong cumulative case for the existence of an omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing) omnipresent (all-encompassing), and omnibenevolent (all-loving) Being we know as God.
- Is Jesus the Son of God? If no, then one will need to explore other alternatives. If yes, then everything changes. Multiple reasons exist as to why one should accept Jesus as the Son of God. Such reasons include: strong historical evidence for his existence, strong historical evidence for his resurrection, strong historical evidence for the martyrdom of the apostles, multiple early eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, the presence of the empty tomb, and enemies who changed to believers after Jesus’ resurrection. Much, much more could be said here. If you are interested in a further investigation, search other articles here on BellatorChristi.com pertaining to the resurrection of Jesus and his historicity.
If Jesus is the Son of God, then what will a person do with Jesus? What did Jesus say about himself? What does it mean for us if Jesus is the Son of God?
- The identity of Jesus demands exclusivity.
If Jesus is the Son of God, then by sheer logic there cannot be another way to the Father. Jesus removes all doubt to this conundrum as he states, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If Jesus is the Son of God, then we do not need anyone else to serve as a mediator between the Father and humanity.
Jesus asked his disciples one question that is pertinent to us all. He asked, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is” (Matthew 16:13)? The disciples answered with various responses. But Jesus pushes the question further and more personally by asking, “But who do you say that I am” (Matthew 16:15)? The same question applies to all of us. Who do you say that Jesus is?
The great C. S. Lewis put it this way in his book Mere Christianity:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
The great news is that God wants to save all of humanity. God does not force a person to come to faith. He persuades us to receive the love that he freely provides. What about those who have never heard? What happens to them? Those are excellent questions and will be the topic of another article. For now, let us surmise the argument brought forth in this article:
- If Jesus is the true Son of God, then he must be the only way to heaven.
- Jesus is the true Son of God.
- Therefore, Jesus is the only way to heaven.
© 2017. Bellator Christi.
 Aristotle, Metaphysics 4.7.
 Douglas Groothius, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove; Nottingham, UK: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2011), 124.
 Aristotles, Metaphysics 1005.
 Groothius, 47.
 There are other links to our chain that we could include, but to save on space we will end here.
 This is strong because no one ever denied that Jesus had been resurrected despite intense pressures to do otherwise.
 Most notable are Paul the apostle who was a persecutor of the church before changing to an ardent believer and James the brother of Jesus. James thought that Jesus was crazy for making the claims that he did until after seeing Jesus after the resurrection. Both became leaders of the church.
 Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007).