Most of us know who Tom Cruise is. He's starred in hit movies such as “Top Gun” and “Mission Impossible” and is one of Hollywood's biggest stars.
But he's also known for something else:
He is a prominent member of the Church of Scientology and one of its most staunch defenders.
Years ago, during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, she asked Cruise about his beliefs. Eventually, she asked, somewhat rhetorically, “So Scientologists don't believe that their way is the only way?”
Behind that question was a mountain of implications and assumptions. Answering yes would have opened the floodgates to all sorts of hasty accusations.
However, Cruise answered no, saying how the code of Scientology says to respect the religious beliefs of others, and how it's not about “you must believe what I believe.”
What if a Christian had been interviewed by Oprah instead? What would that person say?
They might reply by saying that Christians believe Jesus is the only way to Heaven, but does that make them arrogant and narrow minded?
Why can't all paths lead to Heaven?
First of all, it's important to point out that this is not simply a claim that Christians are making up, but a belief rooted in the words of Jesus and echoed by his disciples.
John 14:6 says, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
And in Acts 4:12, And there is salvation in no one else; there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.
Jesus was very clear in saying He was the only way, and his disciples upheld that teaching.
So, far from being arrogant, Christians are simply upholding the claims of the one they follow. Therefore, the question becomes, “Are there good reasons to follow Jesus? Are there good reasons to be a Christian?”
Now we can more clearly see that this is really a question about truth. But truth by its very nature is exclusive.
Donald Trump is the current president of the United States.
Pineapple does not belong on pizza.
(Ok...that last one was obviously a joke but you get my point).
Truth is exclusive. It’s either true or false. There’s no in-between.
So either Jesus is the only way to God or He is not.
One way religious pluralists--those who believe all paths lead to God--like to argue their point is through the well worn analogy of blind men touching different parts of an elephant.
One man touches the tail and claims the elephant is like a rope. Another man grabs the trunk and says the elephant is like a snake. Another man feels the elephants leg and says no, it's like a tree trunk.
The moral of the story is that they are all correct because they each can only grasp part of the big picture.
However, this analogy is fraught with problems, as New Testament Scholar Michael J. Kruger succinctly points out:
The core problem with the elephant analogy is that the person using the analogy is assuming that they themselves are not blind! The person using the analogy is basically saying, “Let me tell you how all religions really work.” But that is an enormous (and arrogant!) claim that requires near-omniscient knowledge. How would this person know how all religions work? And why should this person be exempt from the very analogy they just gave?
Kruger demonstrates that the arrogant ones are actually the people who call Christians arrogant!
They don't like it when Christians say there's only one way, but they are ultimately saying that their way is the only way.
They're guilty of the exact same thing they condemn others of doing because they believe that *they* are right when they say it's wrong for someone to think they are right and others are wrong.
So it makes much more sense to ask, “what is the truth?” And when it comes to world religions, they can't all be true because they make competing truth claims.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jesus is really the archangel Michael, while Christianity teaches that Jesus is the son of God. Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet who did not die on a cross, while Christians believe not only that Jesus died but was resurrected, thus vindicating his claims of divinity.
Which claim is true depends on where the evidence points.
I'm of the belief that when it comes to evidence and reasons for belief, Christianity suffers from an embarrassment of riches. Other religions and worldviews simply fall short...WAY short.
But while it may be inaccurate to say that Christians are arrogant for claiming Jesus is the only way, that certainly doesn't mean Christians haven't acted arrogant, or prideful, or superior before.
We must be better than that moving forward.
Christians are commanded to be prepared to give reasons for why they believe, but are told to do so with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
Likewise, the apostle Paul says that no matter our worldly gifts, if we do not have love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).
Jesus himself said in Mark 10:45 that he came to earth not to be served by others, but to be a servant himself.
Don't be like Tom Cruise, offering up hollow platitudes and ambiguous cliches.
Rather, speak the truth, but do it in love; having the heart of a servant.
Familiarize yourself with the evidence for Christianity, and make a winsome case for Jesus.
Matt has studied Christian theology, philosophy, and apologetics on his own for several years now. He is passionate about sharing the evidence for the truth of Christianity and answering the objections of today's post-Christian culture. He hopes to someday earn a formal education in ministry and/or apologetics. Matt lives in Wyoming, Michigan with his wife Sara and Son Ezekiel!