Was Jesus a Religious Pluralist?

Some people, to my surprise, say Jesus never made an exclusivist claim. They believe He never said that Christianity alone is the true religion. Rather, they suggest, He would have considered many approaches to God.

My guess is that these people have not read the Gospels carefully. In fact, even a cursory reading of Jesus’ words would lead you to think He rejected pluralism. Consider just two famous verses.

In John 14:6, Jesus says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” If you want heaven, Jesus is your guy. There’s no one else getting to God unless they’re going through Jesus. That’s straightforward.

The other well-known passage is the Great Commission. Jesus has completed His earthly ministry. He’s mentored his disciples. He’s died and risen from the grave. He’s atoned for the sins of the world. He’s ready to ascend into heaven and initiate the church’s mission. What mission? Jesus spells it out clearly in Matthew 28:18–20. He tells His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Why bother reaching every nation with His message if His way is only one of many ways? These two verses alone clarify Jesus’ view that religious pluralism is false.

There aren’t just two verses, though. There are 100. In fact, Greg put them all in a small book called Jesus, the Only Way. It’s a simple but awesome tool that makes the same point but with a lot more evidence.

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Alan Shlemon

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