A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

A couple of years ago I visited Canada to record television interviews about my book Christian Endgame. Prior to the recording, some of the Christians in the green room told me to be cautious about saying that Christianity is the exclusively true religion. When I inquired why, I was told that it is considered intolerant in Canadian society to claim Christianity is the only way to God. The Christian program executives were concerned about receiving legal reprisals from the Canadian government for broadcasting “intolerant” religious statements.

I don’t know exactly what Canada’s laws are concerning alleged statements of religious intolerance, but it appears the Western world (including America) has allowed political correctness to run amuck.

So, how should Christians respond to the challenge that their belief of exclusivity reflects intolerance? Here are five ways to handle this increasingly tricky topic.

  1. We can point out that truth exists and that it really matters. Respect and tolerance should never be divorced from truth, especially the concept of ultimate truth. All denials of objective truth are ultimately self-defeating.1 For example, to claim there is no objective truth would itself constitute an objective truth.
     
  2. We can point out that cold, hard logic requires that contradictory religious truth-claims cannot be simultaneously true. For example, Christianity affirms that Jesus Christ is God incarnate (God in human flesh); but traditional Judaism and Islam both assert that Jesus was not God incarnate. The law of noncontradiction states: A cannot equal A and equal non-A at the same time and in the same way.2 Based on this law, Jesus Christ cannot be both God incarnate (Christianity) and not God incarnate (Judaism, Islam) at the same time and in the same respect. Affirming the dictates of reason does not violate any acceptable standard of tolerance.
     
  3. We can make an apologetic case for the truthfulness of Christianity. Believers can present persuasive arguments for the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3) and point out difficulties in alternative, non-Christian belief systems (2 Corinthians 10:5). For example, the Apostle Paul made an affirmative case for Jesus’ resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3–8) and the Apostle John criticized the Docetist heresy that claimed Jesus hadn’t come in the flesh (1 John 4:1–3).
     
  4. We should admit that societies significantly influenced by Christianity have at times promoted or permitted genuine intolerance (e.g., anti-Semitism in twentieth-century Europe). Christians are forgiven sinners and they should personally and corporately admit their constant struggle against sin. They can, however, point out that Christianity itself affirms genuine tolerance as a virtue via the biblical view that all people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27) and are thus deserving of respectful and dignified treatment. Jesus himself set a moral example of treating people with respect and tolerance when he initiated a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7–26). Usually rabbis didn’t speak to women in public and Jews avoided interacting with Samaritan people (see John 4:9).
     
  5. Christians are called to witness to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with both their words (preaching) and their lives (ethical conduct). The world needs to see the power of lived truth. These two things can be accomplished when believers are personally and socially tolerant of people while simultaneously intellectually intolerant of conflicting truth-claims.

At the heart of the Christian faith is the conviction that “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Mark 12:35–37; John 20:28; Romans 10:9–13; 1 Corinthians 8:5–6; 12:3; Philippians 2:11). Remember, the exclusive claims of Christ’s Lordship are no more politically correct today in Canada (or anywhere) than they were 2,000 years ago in the ancient Roman Empire.

Subjects: Logic, Religious Pluralism

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @ Reasons.org

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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