It’s far more likely in our culture to be attacked with emotions than it is to be confronted with arguments. In a pluralistic society, the enlightened/modern thing to do is to merely accept the absolute truth that there is no absolute truth. Whatever is true for you is fine, so long as you don’t bother telling others that what is true for them is wrong. If Christians say that they know the truth, to the exclusion of all others, not only are they certainly wrong, but they are also in bad form.
The problem is that if we are to claim the name of Christ, we have no other choice. Jesus Himself said that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). So by sticking to what Jesus said about Himself, we have to be prepared to be looked at as arrogant. However, the question we have to ask is whether or not the accusation is true or not.
Firstly, we must acknowledge that the statement is at least possibly true. It’s easy to envision a Christian looking down their nose at someone for being wrong. However, I believe the accusation rests wholly on the idea that exclusivity in an age of plurality is something to be looked down on, and berated. This presupposition is merely a cultural understanding, and is something that would have to be proven, and not simply assumed. It would have to be shown that there is an absolute understanding that no exclusive truth claims can be valid, and everything must be relative. Unfortunately, most people aren’t ready to engage in that level of discussion. So, what are we to do? How can we respond in a way that is both winsome and engaging?
Well, the first thing we have to do is explain that we are merely following Jesus, and if He makes the exclusive claim, than we have to as well. Secondly, what I’ve found fairly useful is to say that the accusation would be correct only if the claim is false. If the claim is true, that there is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus, then it is not arrogant at all, it is simply fact. Not only is it fact, but it is a very loving thing to tell someone, because you’re showing that you care enough about the person to try and help them.
Interestingly, every viewpoint is exclusive to some degree, whether or not people are willing to admit that. Even a belief that says all beliefs are valid has to exclude the belief that says that only one way is valid. In this way, even the enlightened modern person is excluding the Christian. They would never say that, but you see it come out in statements on how nobody has the right to judge others, even though that statement is a judgement of those very people.
1. Every belief is exclusive to some degree, and if being exclusive is wrong, it must be shown and not simply assumed/stated.
2. The only legitimate way the Christian claim of exclusivity can be considered arrogant is if it is shown to be a false belief.
3. If Christian exclusivity is a true belief, than not only is it not arrogant, but it is the most loving position that can be shared.
4. If we take Jesus seriously, we must believe what He said about Himself, namely that He is the only way to God.