How to Respond to Those Who Say There are Many Ways to God (i.e., How to Respond to Religious Pluralism)

14 Aug

I’ve mentioned it here before, but I cannot recommend Joe Coffey’s book, Smooth Stones: Bringing Down the Giant Questions of Apologetics, enough!

Seriously, for Christians who desire to bolster up or want to prepare to give the “reason for the hope” (1 Pet. 3:15) that is within them (“with gentleness and respect,” I might add), then this resource is crucial. It’s only going for $10.00 on Amazon for paperback and only $6.00 if you have a Kindle.

But, if I had to describe it to somebody, it’s sort of like Tim Keller’s Reason for God, only presented in a much more accessible, concise way (it’s only about 100 pages!). Coffey addresses questions of God’s existence, the trustworthiness of Scripture, the exclusivity of Christ and several others in an intelligent, winsome, and oftentimes, entertaining way.

Last time, I shared his thoughts regarding the existence of God. This time, I wanted to share a little of what he wrote concerning the issue of plurality – or, the belief/claim that “all religions are correct and they all lead to God.”

As he often does, Coffey offers two easily-rememberable (that’s an actual word in the dictionary – look it up) metaphors to address these claims. I’ll offer one today, namely, the House on Fire metaphor. He says:

Suppose my house is on fire and it is full of people I care about. My son, Jeremy, is a big guy. Suppose Jeremy runs up to me screaming, ‘Dad! The house is on fire! I’m going to throw myself against the burning door and break through it to give people a way to get out!’

I would say, ‘If you do that, you’re going to fall right into the flames!’

But he says, ‘Yeah, I know, but it’s the only way.’

I could picture myself maybe saying, ‘Go!’ And the son I love, my only son, would run and break through the burning door and die an excruciating death, but then all the people who were in the house would be saved. THAT SACRIFICE MAKES SENSE.

But suppose somebody says, ‘There are dozens of ways out of the house, and some of them are really easy ways. All you have to do is walk and you’re out of the house.’

Let’s say there are 48 different ways out of the house. In that case there is no way any father would send his only son to die an excruciating death to make the 49th way. THAT MAKES NO SENSE! And it makes no sense to say that you believe Christianity is just one of the many ways.

In other words: IT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE FOR CHRIST TO HAVE DIED THAT EXCRUCIATING DEATH ON THE CROSS IF THAT WASN’T THE ONLY WAY.

Or – to put it positively – the reason that Christ willingly endured that humiliation and excruciating death on the cross for our sake (1 Cor. 5:21) was because it was the only way for sinful people to be reconciled to a just God. Why else would he endure that if he didn’t have to? (Isa. 53:7; 1 Cor. 15:3, ETC.)

And for those particularly skeptical – yes, Jesus did actually exist, as evidenced by the fact that he repeatedly showed up in the accounts of the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus – both of whom were not Christians.

This brings to mind one thing that my professor John Thompson said in one of his lectures: “Dying for someone only makes sense when there is a threat.” The wrath of God against our sin was a real threat; Jesus’s death on the cross – and it alone – removed that threat once for all… nothing else.

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One Response to “How to Respond to Those Who Say There are Many Ways to God (i.e., How to Respond to Religious Pluralism)”

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  1. How to Respond to Those Who Say the Disciples Stole Jesus’ Body | One Pilgrim's Progress - October 4, 2011

    […] these past two posts, I’ve posted up short excerpts from Joe Coffey’s book, Smooth Stones: Bringing […]

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