Today, at Grace Church PCA, we had a discussion on the second chapter of Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God. In the book (and accompanying video) Keller responds to common objections contemporary people have about Orthodox Christianity. This morning, we watched a video where Keller posed the question, “How Can Christians Claim to Know the Only Way to God.”
The respondents, predominantly religious skeptics, added to the question a variety of concerns, making comments like —
As a deconstructionist, I understand a religion’s motives for making exclusive claims. I just don’t know if I can trust them.
It would be unfair for God to selectively reveal the Truth to only some and not others.
All religions share common ethical teachings. To say one is True above all others is an arrogant claim.
Keller listened carefully and responded prayerfully to each concern and question raised. He concluded the segment with an appeal to understand that when Christians make exclusive claims about Christ, it is not because they have an infantile need to always be right. It is because we strive to be faithful to the One who said,
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me.”
One thought I came away with was that there is a distinction between religious pluralism and inter-faith dialogue. Religious pluralists make the arrogant assumption that no religion has the Truth and tries to pour all truth claims into a melting pot of their own making such that all who profess faith get burned.
Inter-faith dialogue occurs when two or more Truth seekers, each committed to distinct truth claims – who humbly recognize the Truth is bigger than their own understanding – share their unique faith openly and honestly.
I believe Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – yet I do not “possess Christ” more than any other flawed human being. It is very possible that some poor fisherman in Indonesia who hasn’t even read the Bible is following Christ more closely than I am.
As a faithful Christian missionary, then, it is not my job to convert lost souls to become more like me. Instead, it is to genuinely commune with those very different from me in such a way that together we might grow in the knowledge and spirit of Christ.
There is a story (perhaps legendary – yet it reveals truth) that Mahatma Ghandi was once asked what he thought about Christianity. He replied –
I rather appreciate the teachings of Jesus. I might even had become a Christian, had I ever met one.