The Intolerant Jesus
I have observed something very interesting taking place over the past several years in the extremely competitive world of restaurants. Maybe you have too. Have you noticed the all-you-can eat buffets closing their doors in record numbers? These were businesses that seemed immune from any type of financial failure only a short few years ago. I personally guaranteed the success of several Chinese food establishments serving fresh and hot General Tso Chicken. Even as a child, I remember very well two buffets that opened to the public and immediately drew mammoth crowds with long lines of impatient hungry customers. Much to my bewilderment, both establishments closed their doors within a very short period of time, and my ten-year brain just couldn’t comprehend why such a tragedy happened.
In a very real sense, our culture is drowning under a titanic influx of competing worldviews. Many are religious. Others are purely secular. While variety might be good when it comes to choosing what to eat for dinner, it certainly is not when trying to provide a clear definition for truth. Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, the New Age Movement and a pile more of mystical thoughts are now commonplace.
The best description for the convergence of these seeming limitless viewpoints would be religious pluralism. In the discipline of philosophy, pluralism means the "principle of multiplicity." It is frequently used in disagreement with monism, which is "doctrine of unity", and dualism, the "policy of duality". As used in the world of logic, pluralism is the assessment that there is no single correct judgment, or conversely, that there is more than one correct logic. This should be easily identified as a self-defeating argument.
Christianity has historically maintained, based on the unambiguous words of its originator, Jesus Christ: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”, to be the unique and exclusive disclosure of spiritual reality. While the outcome of such a claim has been centuries of loud public denunciations, Christianity being branded as arrogant, ethnocentric, and narrow-minded, the truth remains that Jesus rejected all forms of pluralism. Secularists hold that, ultimately, all religions are false. Religious pluralists, on the other hand, argue that all religions are ultimately true, that all are created equal.
When diagramming the assorted religions of the world, it becomes essential to distinguish Jesus as unique among all religious leaders in at least two significant respects. First, he claimed to be God. Period. This is unarguable. He wasn’t claiming to be a divine entity along the lines of pantheism. Jesus was explicit in His claim to be the one and only, true God, the creator and sustainer of the universe.
The second aspect of Jesus’ uniqueness among all religious leaders is found in the fact that He stated to be the unique curative to the problem of sin. Jesus said that His death on the cross was to be a sacrifice, a substitute for the purpose of paying the death penalty for unrighteousness, which is required by a just God from every guilty human being. Ironically, the very thing about Jesus' claim that instigates the objection of intolerance is what makes His claim so fantastic. It professes to be not just another opinion, but actually true. People really can come to God; there really is a remedy for sin – the Lord Jesus Christ.