There may be no more controversial statement that we Christians will make then to claim that Jesus is the only way to God.
You will find that people are going to take offense to this claim, but we should actually expect this. The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:8 that Jesus is “a stone of stumbling and the rock of offense.” It’s Biblical: we should expect people to get offended when we talk about Jesus. So, if you make the claim that Jesus is the only way, the response is going to be quick and fast: I AM OFFENDED.
But once we think through this response, we can test its validity. The fact is that when people respond by being offended, followed by a defensive perspective, it’s often rooted in immaturity. However, if someone wants to grow in their maturity, they need to set aside their issue of offense and ask the more important question: “What is true?”
So be ready, when we talk about Jesus, to be greeted by immature offense. But what we then want to do is help them move from offense and focus on the more fundamental and important question of, “What is true?”
Is it true or false that Jesus is the only way to God?
Now, what we have found is that this question is not only offensive outside of Christian circles, but in our churches as well.
In the book “Soul Searching” by sociologist Christian Smith, it’s reported that only 46% of conservative protestant teenagers in America (Baptists, Evangelical Free, Non-Denominational, etc.) believe that there is only one true religion.When this same question was asked if American teenagers attending mainline protestant churches (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist, etc.) the number of teens who believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation drops to a mere 26%.
Additionally, several prominent authors, speakers and Christian influences are also leaning this way. One such person is Rob Bell who wrote in his book, “Love Wins”:
“A staggering number of people have been taught that a secret few Christians will spend forever on a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.”
Bell then goes on to offer a different view.
So, you see, we have prominent voices even within the Christian Church who come against the idea that Jesus is the one way to eternity with God.