Solus Christus, “Christ Alone” for salvation is Christianity’s central scandal. How could anyone make such an exclusive claim and still be considered the foundation of love and justice?
Well, let’s agree for argument’s sake that Jesus did make, or at least could have made, the claim that he is the only way to God. Does it still seem unfair to a world of multiplicity of religions?
One way to approach this seemingly intolerant attitude is to ask what the logical alternatives would be. If Jesus is not the only way—if he is merely one way among many—how would that look or work out in practical terms?
On the surface of things, the idea of many ways to salvation sounds caring. It gives an appearance of being open-minded, fair-handed, and loving. But a careful look reveals the logical quagmire this thought creates in real life. Now keep in mind, if we really want to be consistent and fair to everyone, then we must insist that each and every religious claim (from Christianity to every pagan observance) gets a fair hearing. We can’t be selective in this process and accept the religion of one person while excluding that of another. We need to bring every religious claim from the north, south, east, and west—from the wisdom of the ancients and the moderns to the simple and the profound. Honesty would demand this.
But notice a curious occurrence. When we start analyzing all the different belief systems we discover a myriad of opposite and contradictory ideas:
-God is pleased when hatred is directed toward those outside the group.
-God is pleased when love is expressed to those of another belief system.
-God is honored by the violent death of the unbeliever.
-God is honored by love and mercy extended to the unbeliever.
-God is incapable of revealing his will to human beings.
-Ultimate salvation comes about by doing works of the law, keeping the rules, performing the rites, fulfilling the requirements of the religion.
-Salvation comes by trust in God alone and in what this God has done for the believer.
-We’re saved from sin.
-We’re saved from the false belief that there is such a thing as sin.
-Future salvation is redemption and a renewal of the physical world.
-Future salvation is the annihilation of the physical world.
-The human personality will survive death and there will be a reunion of friends and loved ones.
-Personality and consciousness will be absorbed and disappear altogether for eternity into a great universal oneness.
It should become obvious, without belaboring the point any further, that the more religions we study, the more varied, creative, and even shocking are the ways salvation is thought to be achieved. In fact, the most common characteristic of the world’s religions is this: It’s something achieved. It’s the product of one’s own efforts. In whatever distorted or twisted form, the method remains the same. It’s believed to come from the work and efforts of the devotee, or not at all.
This is the expressed antithesis of the Christian faith. On the authority of Jesus Christ, salvation comes to us as a free gift—totally unearned and unearnable, granted by the sheer mercy and grace of the God who created us. It’s a finished work accomplished by the death of Jesus on the cross and can’t be improved upon or embellished by our efforts. It’s not in any way achieved. It’s freely and humbly received as a child accepts a gift, or it’s not received at all.
How do we know that what Jesus said is the ultimate truth? Because he is the only one who died (was crucified), buried, and rose to attest to the truth of the resurrection. His resurrection was something that was believed and documented not just by his followers, but by skeptics who had every reason to want to expose him for being a fraud.
No other religion can claim this of their leader. We’ll discuss more on Sunday.