By: Brian Chilton
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.