On exclusivity and Hell
Response regarding exclusivity
A. Since truth is exclusive, worldviews that contradict each other cannot be true at the same time.
B. 3 reasons why Christianity affirms it is the only way.
C. The assumption that Christianity is the only system of belief that is exclusivistic reveals a significant ignorance of all the other major worldviews. In reality, except Baha’ism- all worldviews are explicitly or implicitly exclusivistic.
Response regarding hell
Hell was not created for humans but for Satan and his angels. Still if humans disregard God’s offer of salvation through the death of his own son then it means they totally reject God’s justice. If God has fully applied justice to his own son- to himself- because he took humans place, should humans expect him not to apply it in their case?
Response regarding exclusivity
A. First, truth is exclusive. By definition. It is exclusive from an epistemological point of view as well as from an experiential point of view as we are all able to observe in real life and in the natural world. (More here).
Since truth applies to all areas of life it should also apply to worldviews. If these worldviews contradict each other then the exclusivity of truth implies that out of all the worldviews out there, one must be true and the others false.
Except the fact that it is a statement considered very politically incorrect during our times, since it contradicts, at its very core, the widely spread trend of this century called relativism, it nevertheless has much evidence backing it up. (Relativism that says there is no absolute truth, stating that all claims -and for that matter, all worldviews- are equally valid, stands against basic reasoning and logic. See reasons why here).
B. The question is now why Christianity claims to be the only true worldview out there. Christianity makes the following claims that others do not:
1. First, all other religions exhort man to reach up to God and grasp hold of Him through their own efforts. Christianity is the only religion where God reaches down to man.
2. Other religions are systems of do’s and don’ts to appease God, whereas Christianity- in its true and pure form- is a relationship with God.
3. Christianity is based upon truly the most amazing event reported in all of human history: the resurrection.
1. All other forms of religion subscribe to a system of works—those we should do and those we should avoid—which will make us “good enough” to please God and merit His favor.
Christianity, on the other hand, is based on the biblical principle that we can never be good enough to be in the presence of a perfect, holy God. The Mosaic Law was given to mankind to prove to us that we can’t keep it. The impossibility of keeping the Law is revealed in what Jesus called the “first and greatest commandment” in Matthew 22:37: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This would mean loving God with every fiber of our being 24/7, with never a thought for ourselves, clearly an impossible task for anyone.
But rather than condemning humans as law-breakers and leaving it at that, God provided a substitute—Jesus Christ—who obeyed the Law perfectly for them. By faith in Him and accepting His work on one’s behalf, any individual is forgiven, justified and made righteous.
According to Christians, this is a crucial difference between their worldview and all the others.
2. Christianity is not a religious system but a relationship with God, one that He initiated and intends to maintain. Christians believe that mankind was created specifically to have a relationship with God, but sin separates all men from Him. It teaches that Jesus Christ walked this earth, fully God, and yet fully man and died on the cross to restore the relationship that was broken by sin. After His death on the cross, Christ was buried, He rose again, and now lives at the right hand of God the Father, making intercession for believers. The intimacy of this relationship is revealed in two important pictures. Now no longer seen as law-breakers, we have been adopted into God’s own family as His children (Ephesians 1:5). Even more intimately, believers are the very “body of Christ” of which He is the head (Ephesians 1:22-23), having been purchased by His blood (Hebrews 9:12).
Christians claim no other religion makes assertions that even begin to equal such things.
3. Finally, the most defining principle of Christianity that indeed makes it unique, providing its fundamental basis, is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Christianity would not mean much if it wasn’t for the resurrection. After Jesus death the disciples ran and hid. It’s only after they could see Jesus risen that they truly believed and their beliefs totally transformed their lives. They believed he was indeed God in the flesh after witnessing Jesus death in full view of his executioners, being guarded after death yet still rising 3 days later to appear to many people. The resurrection validated everything Jesus said, providing the only means for redemption for mankind.
Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, Confucius– none of these people rose from the dead. Only Jesus did, and he rose others from the dead too. Only Jesus walked on water, only him claimed to be God, as well as ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14:6) and only him clearly said that no one comes to God except through him. So only in Christianity do we have the person of Christ.
For all the above reasons, Christianity claims exclusivity for salvation.
Which probably is also one of the main reasons Christians are seen as intolerant or arrogant because they say that salvation is only through Jesus. But in case what they believe is indeed true, they are clearly responsible to share that truth. In the Bible, Jesus asked those who believe to not stop until they tell the whole world about the good news of the redemption he won for humankind. Still he also asked them to be living examples of the Christian values of love and respect for human beings free choice. Jesus makes it clear that the Christians are not supposed to judge, only God has that right. Only He knows the heart of each human being. Christians have the responsibility to simply share the truth with love- that’s it. As well as pray and live by the standards they are called to.
The Christian view is that God loves each one of the human beings and He wants all people to find and accept His loving salvation plan. So what the Christians say- or rather the Christian doctrine- is that whoever rejects consciously Jesus sacrifice for him personally- which is God’s ultimate offer of reconciliation to human beings – will get what he chooses, an eternity without God.
C. Baha’ism is the religion that attempts to pull everything together and offer a religious universalism. The problem is there are many tests for truth that Baha’ism does not pass starting with the most obvious one that the world’s religions are too varied and too fundamentally different to be reconciled. Given that the world’s religions obviously teach and practice contrary things, Baha’ism simply dismantles almost everything foundational to those religions. Arguing unity in the other worldviews’ fundamental teachings simply defies logic.
Response regarding hell
For Christians, God is both perfect love and perfect justice.
To understand what love means one has to consider a God, author of all creation, who decided to become a human, suffer at the hands of humans, be killed by his creation with the sole purpose to make his own death payment for the sins of the people who tortured and killed him.
Why would God inflict such a pain on himself, on His own righteous son, if there could have been any other way? It has cost Him tremendously to save humans but that was the price required by His justice. If one rejects God’s ultimate gift of salvation, one simply chooses to be judged.
Whether one believes in something or not does not change the fact of its existence. Jesus mentioned hell several times (Matt. 25:41-46; Mark 9:47-48; Luke 16:19-31), he also warned us so we would not go there. Didn’t he know what he was talking about? If it is unjust for God to send people to hell what then should be done about the fact that sin is wrong and should be punished? About those who oppose God and do evil? Should God ignore all that is wrong? Should He change His sense of justice although He applied it fully on Himself?
Hell was not created for humans but for Satan and his angels. However Christianity says indeed that in the future it will also contain all those who during their lifetime rejected God’s ultimate gift of love.
(Read more about the Christian view on hell, here)