Challenge Response: Exclusivity Is Petty and Dangerous

Here's my response to this week's challenge:


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Is, exclusivity petty, dangerous and does it run against the moral character of Christ? Well, I don't think so, and there are a couple things I think we need to say when it come to this challenge.

Number one, we want to define exclusivity. Is this challenger saying any exclusive claim is dangerous? Or are they just saying it's merely religious exclusive claims that are dangerous? Because, of course, if it's any exclusive claim that's dangerous, well then this claim would be dangerous as well because the claim is “exclusivism is petty and dangerous” and that itself is an exclusive claim.

I'm going to guess they’re going to say that when it comes to religion, if you claim that your religion is the one true religion, then that is petty and dangerous. Well, the whole idea of being petty I think is just really silly. If something is true, it's true. It's not petty to affirm something that's true. That's just the nature of reality. Reality is narrow, right?

If there's a car coming down the street and I step out into the crosswalk, that car is going to hit me. I'm going to get hurt, and that's the exclusive truth. That's the narrow truth about reality. Is it petty? Well, I think the primary question is whether or not it's true. Certain claims are true. 

Now, is it dangerous? Again, I think this is where we need to go to the question: What is true? If you look at the teachings of Christianity, I would say, no they're not dangerous even though they’re exclusive because of what is being affirmed. Are exclusive claims dangerous? Again, what is the nature of reality? If something is true, that means it corresponds to reality, then we need to affirm it. When it comes to the religious claims – Jesus being the only way – I don't see how it follows that that claim is dangerous to affirm that there is a singular truth. 

For instance, I go to the doctor and the doctor says, “You're sick. You have this disease. Here's the only cure.” Do I look at the doctor and say, “You are just being petty,” or do I say, “Oh, that's dangerous that you would affirm there's only one cure. You're not open minded, doctor.” Of course not. I would say, “If that's the one cure that works, give it to me because I need to take that.” That is the appropriate analogy for Christian exclusivism. 

Jesus is the medicine that cures the disease that we all are dying with. So in this case, it would actually be dangerous not to affirm the exclusivity of the one true cure. You can't claim that exclusivity itself is dangerous. 

Does this run against moral character Christ? No, it's what he taught. In John 14:6 we have a reliable account of what he has said about himself. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That is an exclusive claim that Jesus made himself, and his closest followers say the same thing. See how Peter in Acts 4:12 says that there is no other name under heaven by which man must be saved. So Jesus’ closest followers affirm this exclusivity. 

Again, this doesn't run against Christ’s moral character. If Jesus is the one true medicine and the cure that we need for our disease of sin, then it actually fits with his moral character. As a good loving God, he has revealed to us the only way to salvation, the only cure, and so we've got to take it. Rather than bump up against these claims of exclusivity and rail against them, we need to embrace them because it's the truth that will set us free.

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Brett Kunkle