Truth, Exclusivity, and Christianity with Ravi Zacharias

“You know professor, I think the time has come for us in the Islamic world to stop asking if Jesus Christ died and to start asking why.”
(Top Shiite Cleric in Damascus, Syria) Sheikh Hussein in a conversation with Ravi Zacharias about Islam and Christianity.  

While responding to a question, “How do you know that Christianity is the one true worldview?” Ravi Zacharias discussed the cross of Christ, the resurrection, and revealed a conversation he had permission to tell from a top Islamic cleric.  The cleric turned to Ravi, admitted that the Muslim belief in the “swoon theory” (basically, Jesus passed out but did not die on the cross) didn’t hold water factually.  Sheikh Hussein’s comment, “You know professor, I think the time has come for us in the Islamic world to stop asking if Jesus Christ died and to start asking why,” is a demonstration of a man who is starting to seek “true truth” and not just “preferred truth.”

For the entire video and the context of the quote, check out the video:

 

Pluralism’s Intolerance

Is Pluralism More Tolerant than Christianity?  Jonathan Dodson addresses this question in his “Is Jesus the Only Way?” series.  Through a look at the duplicity of pluralism’s claims, Dodson displays that pluralism turns out to be another “intolerant” religion.  In the attempt to say all religions lead to God, pluralism actually assumes a religious stance that seeks to overrule the faith claims of other religions.  Pluralism is a classic example of intolerance in the name of tolerance.

Is Pluralism More Tolerant Than Christianity?
(by Jonathan Dodson)

In the prior three posts, we have examined the claim that Jesus is the only way to God is both unenlightened and arrogant. As it turns out, it’s actually the opposite. It is religious pluralism that is rather unenlightened and carries an air of arrogance. In this post we will examine the important idea of tolerance. Is religious pluralism more tolerant than Christianity?

Is Religious Pluralism Truly Tolerant?

Very often people hold to religious pluralism because they think it is more tolerant than Christianity. I’ll be the first to say that we need tolerance, but what does it mean to be tolerant? To be tolerant is to accommodate differences, which can be very noble. I believe that Christians should be some of the most accommodating kinds of people, giving everyone the dignity to believe whatever they want and not enforcing their beliefs on others through politics or preaching. We should winsomely tolerate different beliefs. Interestingly, religious pluralism doesn’t really allow for this kind of tolerance. Instead of accommodating spiritual differences, religious pluralism blunts them. Let me explain.

The claim that all paths lead to the same God actually minimizes other religions by asserting a new religious claim. When someone says all paths lead to the same God, they blunt the distinctives between religions, throwing them all in one pot, saying: “See, they all get us to God so the differences don’t really matter.” This isn’t tolerance; it’s a power play. When asserting all religions lead to God, the distinctive and very different views of God and how to reach him in Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam are brushed aside in one powerful swoop. The Eightfold Noble Path of Buddhism, the 5 Pillars of Islam, and the Gospel of Christ are not tolerated but told they must submit to a new religious claim–all ways lead to God–despite the fact that this isn’t what those religions teach.

The Religion of Pluralism

People spend years studying and practicing their religious distinctives. To say they don’t really matter is highly intolerant! The very notion of religious tolerance assumes there are differences to tolerate but pluralism is intolerant of those very differences! In this sense, religious pluralism is a religion of its own. It has its own religious absolute—all paths lead to the same God—and requires people of other faiths to embrace this absolute, without any religious backing at all. It is highly evangelistic! Religious pluralism is highly political and preachy. Yet, it does so under the guise of tolerance. It is a leap of faith to say there are many paths to God; it is not a self-evident fact. It isn’t even an educated leap, nor is it as humble and tolerant as it might appear.

Recall Stephen Prothero’s comment [in his book God is Not One] regarding religious pluralism:

“But this sentiment, however well-intentioned, is neither accurate nor ethically responsible. God is not one.” He goes on: “Faith in the unity of religions is just that—faith (perhaps even a kind of fundamentalism). And the leap that gets us there is an act of the hyperactive imagination.”

Enlightened, Humble, Tolerant?

As it turns out, the reasons for subscribing to religious pluralism—enlightenment, humility, and tolerance—actually backfire. They don’t carry through. Religious pluralism isn’t enlightened, it’s inaccurate; it isn’t humble, it’s fiercely dogmatic; and it isn’t really all that tolerant because it intolerantly blunts religious distinctives. In the end, religious pluralism is a religion, a leap of faith, based on contradiction and is highly untenable. Christianity, on the other hand, should respect and honor the various distinctives of other religions, comparing them, and honoring their differing principles–Karma (Hinduism), Enlightenment (Buddhism), Submission (Islam), and Grace (Christianity). In the next and final post, I will examine Jesus’ exclusive claim, and the charge that his teachings in Christianity are unenlightened, arrogant, and intolerant. In particular, we will examine the unique principle of grace.

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

Not that long ago an interview was done with author and Yale Divinity School theologian Miroslav Volf on his book Allah.  In his new book, Volf claims that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.  He does a lot of theological dancing around the massive and fundamental differences between the Bible and the Koran regarding the nature of God in order to assert his claim.

The Gospel Coalition decided to do a short response to Volf’s book through an interview with former practicing Muslim, and now Christian pastor, Thabiti Anyabwile.  The short answer to “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” is “No.”  In the five minute interview, Anyabwile gives his theological and first-hand experiential reasons why Volf’s conclusions simply fall apart:

Preaching Christianity

“The great difficulty is to get modern audiences to realize that you are preaching Christianity solely and simply because you happen to think it is true; they always suppose you are preaching it because you like it or think it good for society or something of that sort.”
-C.S. Lewis

The Anvil of Christianity

“The problem with Christianity is not that is has been tried and found wanting, but that it has been found difficult and left untried.”
-G.K. Chesterton

What’s So Great About Christianity? Book Review

“The Christian is told in 1 Peter 3:15, ‘Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reasons for the hope that is within you.” But in order to give reasons, you must first know what you believe. You must also know why you believe it. And you must be able to communicate these reasons to those who don’t share your beliefs. In short, you must know what’s so great about Christianity” (p xiii).

The world has never been friendly to authentic Christian beliefs and Christians have always been called to give reason for their faith.  What’s So Great About Christianity? has emerged as an intelligent response to attacks on the faith in regards to the future of Christianity, Christianity in the West, Christianity and science, Design, Philosophy, Suffering, Morality, and You as an individual.  Dinesh D’Souza intelligently and accurately presents the arguments against Christianity that constantly get recycled as well as those being stated by the “new atheists” movement. D’Souza then unravels the case against Christianity and builds the logical evidence for a biblical worldview. What’s So Great About Christianity? is an excellent tool to help equip a person to intelligently remove mental barriers to the faith and open a door to share the gospel. I give this book a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars.