Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

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Are Christians Narrow-Minded?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I want to begin by stating unambiguously that I am convinced that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and that there is salvation in no one else.  I’m fully aware of the fact that for me to say something like that is to invite accusations of everything from “hate” to “intolerance”, “bigotry”, “narrow-mindedness”, and “arrogance.”  I suppose that one of the reasons that people react this way is because so many people have bought into the idea that truth is “relative”- that everyone “has their own truth.”  Another reason has to do with the fact that in today’s world, the term “tolerance” has been radically redefined to suggest that everyone’s view is correct and that no one can ever say that someone else’s view is wrong.  As a result of such confusion, whenever someone comes along and suggests that some views are wrong and that some ideas are more true than others, that person is immediately labeled as narrow-minded.  Given that such misguided views of truth and tolerance are so pervasive in our culture today, how do we, as Christians, respond to such charges without compromising the truth of the Gospel?

I believe that there are at least three points that need to be made when addressing this accusation of narrow-mindedness.  First of all, it’s important to point out that we are not the ones who came up with the idea that Jesus is the only way.  Jesus is the one who made that claim.  So, whenever someone asks me if I believe that Jesus is the only way to God, I often tell them that I am convinced, after looking at the evidence, that Jesus was telling the truth when he made the claim that he is the only way to God.  Stating it this way makes it clear that their struggle is not really with us, it’s with him. If they feel that such a claim is arrogant, narrow-minded, and intolerant, then they’re going to have to take that up with him, since he is the one making the claim.

Secondly, when someone accuses us of being narrow-minded on this issue, it’s important for us to point out that if they are not willing to give an open, honest, unbiased examination of the evidence supporting Jesus’ claim, then they are being closed-minded themselves.  Interestingly enough, it is often those who are the most vocal about open-mindedness and tolerance who turn out to be the most intolerant and closed-minded people of all!

Thirdly, it is extremely important for us to understand and to point out to our critics that truth, by definition, is narrow and exclusive. It always is.  For example, suppose that I make the truth claim that my keys are in my right front pocket.  If that really is the case, then that statement is absolutely true.  And not only is it true, but that truth is also narrow and exclusive.  Think for a moment about just how narrow that truth really is.  Out of all of the infinite possible locations in the entire universe where they could have been or may have been, we have narrowed it down to only ONE location that is true.  Furthermore, not only is that truth extremely narrow, it’s exclusive as well, because in telling you where the keys are, it’s also telling you where the keys are not. It is excluding all of the other locations as false. As I said, truth, by definition, is always narrow and exclusive.

One final point.  If anyone is going to accuse Christianity of being exclusive, it’s only “exclusive” in the sense that it’s making a truth claim.  But, as we’ve just seen, this is the case with any truth claim.  On the other hand, Christianity is NOT exclusive with regard to the extent of its invitation and to whom it is offered. This becomes clear as we consider a few of the passages of Scripture referring to God’s offer of salvation.  Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37).  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).  “(God is) not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9b).  “(God) wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  (1 Tim. 2:4).

The message of the Gospel is clear.  God is offering his salvation to anyone and everyone who is willing to come to him.  Our refusal to do so and our insistence that God should have come up with a plan that meets our approval, only goes to show that we are the ones who are being narrow-minded, not God.

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  • In today's world, there is a great deal of confusion when it comes to matters of truth, meaning, morality, our origin, and our destiny. The purpose of Renewed Thoughts is to bring clarity to such issues by examining them in light of a Biblical worldview, using the tools of science, philosophy, and critical thinking.