How Can Christ Be the Only Way to God?

William Lane Craig

A rigorous attempt to answer the problem of the fate of the unevangelized and the challenge of religious pluralism.

Introduction

I recently spoke at a major Canadian university on the existence of God. After my talk, one slightly irate co-ed wrote on her comment card, “I was with you until you got to the stuff about Jesus. God is not the Christian God!”

This attitude is pervasive in Western culture today. Most people are happy to agree that God exists; but in our pluralistic society it has become politically incorrect to claim that God has revealed Himself decisively in Jesus.

And yet this is exactly what the New Testament clearly teaches. Take the letters of the apostle Paul, for example. He invites his Gentile converts to recall their pre-Christian days: "Remember that at that time you were separated from Christ, aliens to the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph 2.12). It is the burden of the opening chapters of his letter to the Romans to show that this desolate condition is the general situation of mankind. Paul explains that God’s power and deity are made known through the created order around us, so that men are without excuse (1.20), and that God has written His moral law upon all men's hearts, so that they are morally responsible before Him (2.15). Although God offers eternal life to all who will respond in an appropriate way to God's general revelation in nature and conscience (2.7), the sad fact is that rather than worship and serve their Creator, people ignore God and flout His moral law (1.21-32). The conclusion: All men are under the power of sin (3.9-12). Worse, Paul goes on to explain that no one can redeem himself by means of righteous living (3.19-20). Fortunately, however, God has provided a means of escape: Jesus Christ has died for the sins of mankind, thereby satisfying the demands of God's justice and enabling reconciliation with God (3.21-6). By means of his atoning death salvation is made available as a gift to be received by faith.

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Brazilian Nightclub Fire and Salvation by Works, Question of the week by Dr. Craig

Doctor Craig, first of all I would like to thank you for your mental and spiritual leadership to my life. You have been of great help in my christian faith. I mean it. But I bring important issues to you in my question now. My name is Leander, I'm 20 years old and I do Law school at Universidade Federal de Santa Maria in Brazil.
I don't know if you are aware of the situation in Santa Maria, but here a fire in a nightclub called Kiss killed around 235 young people (all between 18 and 24 years old) and let around 143 hurt in the hospitals in serious condition. The city is passing through a dark moment. There is just sadness and tears everywhere. The parents of the victims are in despair and all the students, like myself, who knew some of the victims are all gloom.
I've been wondering. According to my evangelical christian faith, most of these people are now in hell. It seems to me extremely cruel. They were good people, young, with dreams and hearts full of love for their friends and life. Now let me set some things straight: I read the last chapter of your book "On Guard" and I've been following some of your work and I think I know what you will say. I know according to classical christian beliefs none is good enough to God, and those who live without Christ, without Christ will perish. But again, it seems extremely painful. I just can't look to the parents of the victims and think of that. So this context makes me really wonder about salvation in christianity. In theory is not that hard to accept it, but in reality is seems cruel and meaningless.
Before start going into an evangelical church I was raised in a catholic family. For that I bring some of the catholical doctrines like salvation through good works (but I'm not sure if they preach that). Like, the good go to heaven and the bad to hell. Isn't this compatible with christianity in some way? The priest around here said these people are now with God! But the pastor says they aren't! Who is right?
I think some passages in the Bible also teach salvation through good works: Matthew 5: 1- 12. Matthew 25: 31- 46. John 5: 28- 29.
Could it be that the priest is right? Could it be that the sacrifice of Christ is extended to everyone, leaving the choice of some going to heaven and some going to hell in God's hands, not in ours?
In this practical situation is really hard to accept evangelical doctrines of salvation.
Sorry about my english, and I did not search further into your works because is hard to understand perfectly english.
Thank you for everything,
Leander
Brazil

Click HERE to read DR. Craig's answer

How do You Choose a Religion?

By J.P. Moreland

Hey, I gotta question!" yelled a student from the back of the room. I was sharing the claims of Christ at a University of Massachusetts fraternity house when he interrupted me. "Yes, what is it?" I queried. "I think Jesus is great for you, but I know Buddhists and Muslims, and they're just as sincere as you are. And they think their views are true just like you do. There's no way a person can know his religion is the 'right' one, so the best thing to do is to just believe everyone's religion is true for them and not judge anyone."
Ever heard something like this? It's hard to believe you haven't. What should we make of these ideas? How should we respond? I think there is a good response to this viewpoint and I hope to provide it in what follows. But before I do, we should carefully note what seems to underlie such a claim. The student was assuming that there are no objective principles that, if applied to one's religious quest, would help one make the best, most rational choice of religious options. In the absence of such principles, any choice is either purely arbitrary or totally based on emotion or upbringing. In either case, such a choice would in no way put a person in a position to judge someone else's choice as being wrong.
Are there objective principles to guide one in choosing a religion? Indeed there are. I believe the following four principles should be used to guide one in choosing which religion he or she will follow and, if properly applied, I believe they will point to Christianity as the most rational choice.

Facts About Creation

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Why We Raised Our Kids to Believe in God

Dear Dr. Craig,
Thank you for all the work you do in the name of Christ. I was disturbed by a very "front and center" article I found on CNN.com news website from a mother in Texas entitled: "Why I raise my kids without God." The article has already been viewed by over 500,000 people on the website. I posted her reasons below and wondered if you might comment on it (I know this is not typical, but the response she's received has been eye-opening):
  When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.
  For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn't believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn't want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn't make sense, stories that I didn't believe either.
  One day he would know this, and he would not trust my judgment. He would know that I built an elaborate tale--not unlike the one we tell children about Santa--to explain the inconsistent and illogical legend of God.
  And so I thought it was only right to be honest with my children. I am a non-believer, and for years I've been on the fringe in my community. As a blogger, though, I've found that there are many other parents out there like me. We are creating the next generation of kids, and there is a wave of young agnostics, atheists, free thinkers and humanists rising up through the ranks who will, hopefully, lower our nation's religious fever.
  Here are a few of the reasons why I am raising my children without God.
God is a bad parent and role model.
  If God is our father, then he is not a good parent. Good parents don't allow their children to inflict harm on others. Good people don't stand by and watch horrible acts committed against innocent men, women and children. They don't condone violence and abuse. "He has given us free will," you say? Our children have free will, but we still step in and guide them.
God is not logical.
  How many times have you heard, "Why did God allow this to happen?" And this: "It's not for us to understand." Translate: We don't understand, so we will not think about it or deal with the issue. Take for example the senseless tragedy in Newtown. Rather than address the problem of guns in America, we defer responsibility to God. He had a reason. He wanted more angels. Only he knows why. We write poems saying that we told God to leave our schools. Now he's making us pay the price. If there is a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves his children, does it make sense that he would allow murders, child abuse, wars, brutal beatings, torture and millions of heinous acts to be committed throughout the history of mankind? Doesn't this go against everything Christ taught us in the New Testament?

  The question we should be asking is this: "Why did we allow this to happen?" How can we fix this? No imaginary person is going to give us the answers or tell us why. Only we have the ability to be logical and to problem solve, and we should not abdicate these responsibilities to "God" just because a topic is tough or uncomfortable to address.
God is not fair.
  If God is fair, then why does he answer the silly prayers of some while allowing other, serious requests, to go unanswered? I have known people who pray that they can find money to buy new furniture. (Answered.) I have known people who pray to God to help them win a soccer match. (Answered.) Why are the prayers of parents with dying children not answered?

  If God is fair, then why are some babies born with heart defects, autism, missing limbs or conjoined to another baby? Clearly, all men are not created equally. Why is a good man beaten senseless on the street while an evil man finds great wealth taking advantage of others? This is not fair. A game maker who allows luck to rule mankind's existence has not created a fair game.
God does not protect the innocent.
  He does not keep our children safe. As a society, we stand up and speak for those who cannot. We protect our little ones as much as possible. When a child is kidnapped, we work together to find the child. We do not tolerate abuse and neglect. Why can't God, with all His powers of omnipotence, protect the innocent?
God is not present.
  He is not here. Telling our children to love a person they cannot see, smell, touch or hear does not make sense. It means that we teach children to love an image, an image that lives only in their imaginations. What we teach them, in effect, is to love an idea that we have created, one that is based in our fears and our hopes.
God Does Not Teach Children to Be Good
  A child should make moral choices for the right reasons. Telling him that he must behave because God is watching means that his morality will be externally focused rather than internally structured. It's like telling a child to behave or Santa won't bring presents. When we take God out of the picture, we place responsibility of doing the right thing onto the shoulders of our children. No, they won't go to heaven or rule their own planets when they die, but they can sleep better at night. They will make their family proud. They will feel better about who they are. They will be decent people.
God Teaches Narcissism
  "God has a plan for you." Telling kids there is a big guy in the sky who has a special path for them makes children narcissistic; it makes them think the world is at their disposal and that, no matter what happens, it doesn't really matter because God is in control. That gives kids a sense of false security and creates selfishness. "No matter what I do, God loves me and forgives me. He knows my purpose. I am special." The irony is that, while we tell this story to our kids, other children are abused and murdered, starved and neglected. All part of God's plan, right?
  When we raise kids without God, we tell them the truth--we are no more special than the next creature. We are just a very, very small part of a big, big machinewhether that machine is nature or societythe influence we have is minuscule. The realization of our insignificance gives us a true sense of humbleness.

  I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we--along with the children we love so much--will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope.

  I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It's a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It's not something to be used or worn by strangers. I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair--not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.
Thanks again, for all your hard work.
Sincerely,
Eric

Click HERE to read Dr. Craig's answer

Pt.3 - "Who is Jesus, Really?" - Pastor J.

Can you answer this question during the Christmas season?

(pt.3 of 4)  This is perhaps the most important question, apologetically and evidentially, regarding Jesus Christ in all of the Scriptures.  If the Bible is true, then how a person answers this simple question will determine where an individual will spend their eternal destiny.  Especially at this crucial time of celebrating the Christmas season, are you personally able to answer the skeptic's or seeker's question of "Who is Jesus Christ, really"?

If not, my aim in this 15 min. video is to begin to teach you the 4 central truths concerning the identity of Jesus Christ, as taught in the New Testament.  If you take the time and learn these 4 central truths concerning Christ, it will enable you to not only stay free from error and false teaching about Jesus, but it will also allow you to be much more effective in explaining Christ and His Person to those who will ask you for help and answers this Christmas season.

Here is how to T.H.IN.K. rightly concerning Christ:
  1. T rinity - Jesus is the second Divine Person of the Triune GOD.  He is eternally, God the Son.
  2. H ypostatic Union - Jesus took upon himself a second nature, a human nature, when conceived.
  3. IN carnation - Jesus, the eternal Son, took upon Himself a fully human body and existence.
  4. K enosis - Jesus willingly chose to limit his use of, or access to, His divine attributes while on the earth, though He never lost them or ceased to be God the Son. 

Join me for these 4 short video teachings from a sermon I recently taught.  I hope it will be a blessing to you, and help equip you to be a more effective ambassador for Christ, during this Christmas season!

Be blessed, be bold,  and have an Intelligent Faith this Christmas season!

- Pastor J. 


Pt.2 - "Who Is Jesus Christ, Really?" - Pastor J.

Can you answer this question during the Christmas season?

(pt.2 of 4)  This is perhaps the most important question, apologetically and evidentially, regarding Jesus Christ in all of the Scriptures.  If the Bible is true, then how a person answers this simple question will determine where an individual will spend their eternal destiny.  Especially at this crucial time of celebrating the Christmas season, are you personally able to answer the skeptic's or seeker's question of "Who is Jesus Christ, really"?

If not, my aim in this 15 min. video is to begin to teach you the 4 central truths concerning the identity of Jesus Christ, as taught in the New Testament.  If you take the time and learn these 4 central truths concerning Christ, it will enable you to not only stay free from error and false teaching about Jesus, but it will also allow you to be much more effective in explaining Christ and His Person to those who will ask you for help and answers this Christmas season.

Here is how to T.H.IN.K. rightly concerning Christ:
  1. T rinity - Jesus is the second Divine Person of the Triune GOD.  He is eternally, God the Son.
  2. H ypostatic Union - Jesus took upon himself a second nature, a human nature, when conceived.
  3. IN carnation - Jesus, the eternal Son, took upon Himself a fully human body and existence.
  4. K enosis - Jesus willingly chose to limit his use of, or access to, His divine attributes while on the earth, though He never lost them or ceased to be God the Son. 

Join me for these 4 short video teachings from a sermon I recently taught.  I hope it will be a blessing to you, and help equip you to be a more effective ambassador for Christ, during this Christmas season!

Be blessed, be bold,  and have an Intelligent Faith this Christmas season!

- Pastor J. 


A Question for Christmas: "Who is Jesus Christ, really?" - Pastor J.

Can you answer this question accurately and effectively?

(pt.1 of 4)  This is perhaps the most important question, apologetically and evidentially, regarding Jesus Christ in all of the Scriptures.  If the Bible is true, then how a person answers this simple question will determine where an individual will spend their eternal destiny.  Especially at this crucial time of celebrating the Christmas season, are you personally able to answer the skeptic's or seeker's question of "Who is Jesus Christ, really"?

If not, my aim in this 15 min. video is to begin to teach you the 4 central truths concerning the identity of Jesus Christ, as taught in the New Testament.  If you take the time and learn these 4 central truths concerning Christ, it will enable you to not only stay free from error and false teaching about Jesus, but it will also allow you to be much more effective in explaining Christ and His Person to those who will ask you for help and answers this Christmas season.

Here is how to T.H.IN.K. rightly concerning Christ:
  1. T rinity - Jesus is the second Divine Person of the Triune GOD.  He is eternally, God the Son.
  2. H ypostatic Union - Jesus took upon himself a second nature, a human nature, when conceived.
  3. IN carnation - Jesus, the eternal Son, took upon Himself a fully human body and existence.
  4. K enosis - Jesus willingly chose to limit his use of, or access to, His divine attributes while on the earth, though He never lost them or ceased to be God the Son. 

Join me for these 4 short video teachings from a sermon I recently taught.  I hope it will be a blessing to you, and help equip you to be a more effective ambassador for Christ, during this Christmas season!

Be blessed, be bold,  and have an Intelligent Faith this Christmas season!

- Pastor J. 

How Can Christ Be the Only Way to God?

William Lane Craig

A rigorous attempt to answer the problem of the fate of the unevangelized and the challenge of religious pluralism.

Introduction

I recently spoke at a major Canadian university on the existence of God. After my talk, one slightly irate co-ed wrote on her comment card, “I was with you until you got to the stuff about Jesus. God is 

not

 the Christian God!”

This attitude is pervasive in Western culture today. Most people are happy to agree that God exists; but in our pluralistic society it has become politically incorrect to claim that God has revealed Himself decisively in Jesus.

And yet this is exactly what the New Testament clearly teaches. Take the letters of the apostle Paul, for example. He invites his Gentile converts to recall their pre-Christian days: "Remember that at that time you were separated from Christ, aliens to the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph 2.12). It is the burden of the opening chapters of his letter to the Romans to show that this desolate condition is the general situation of mankind. Paul explains that God’s power and deity are made known through the created order around us, so that men are without excuse (1.20), and that God has written His moral law upon all men's hearts, so that they are morally responsible before Him (2.15). Although God offers eternal life to all who will respond in an appropriate way to God's general revelation in nature and conscience (2.7), the sad fact is that rather than worship and serve their Creator, people ignore God and flout His moral law (1.21-32). The conclusion: All men are under the power of sin (3.9-12). Worse, Paul goes on to explain that no one can redeem himself by means of righteous living (3.19-20). Fortunately, however, God has provided a means of escape: Jesus Christ has died for the sins of mankind, thereby satisfying the demands of God's justice and enabling reconciliation with God (3.21-6). By means of his atoning death salvation is made available as a gift to be received by faith.

The logic of the New Testament is clear: The universality of sin and uniqueness of Christ's atoning death entail that there is no salvation apart from Christ. As the apostles proclaimed, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4.12).

This particularistic doctrine was just as scandalous in the polytheistic world of the Roman Empire as in contemporary Western culture. Early Christians were therefore often subjected to severe persecution, torture, and death because of their refusal to embrace a pluralistic approach to religions. In time, however, as Christianity grew to supplant the religions of Greece and Rome and became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the scandal receded. Indeed, for medieval thinkers like Augustine and Aquinas, one of the marks of the true Church was its catholicity, that is, its universality. To them it seemed incredible that the great edifice of the Christian Church, filling all of civilization, should be founded on a falsehood.

The demise of this doctrine came with the so-called “Expansion of Europe,” which refers to the three centuries of exploration and discovery from about 1450 until 1750. Through the travels and voyages of men like Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and Ferdinand Magellan, new civilizations and whole new worlds were discovered which knew nothing of the Christian faith. The realization that much of the world lay outside the bounds of Christianity had a two-fold impact upon people's religious thinking. First, it tended to relativize religious beliefs. It was seen that far from being the universal religion of mankind, Christianity was largely confined to Western Europe, a corner of the globe. No particular religion, it seemed, could make a claim to universal validity; each society seemed to have its own religion suited to its peculiar needs. Second, it made Christianity's claim to be the only way of salvation seem narrow and cruel. Enlightenment rationalists like Voltaire taunted the Christians of his day with the prospect of millions of Chinamen doomed to hell for not having believed in Christ, when they had not so much as even heard of Christ. In our own day, the influx into Western nations of immigrants from former colonies and the advances in telecommunications which have served to shrink the world to a global village have heightened our awareness of the religious diversity of mankind. As a result religious pluralism has today become once again the conventional wisdom.

The Problem Posed by Religious Diversity

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