Points of Exclusion

Note:  This is the third in a series on truth.  You can find part one here and part two here.

exclusivity1I closed out part two (link above) on the Laws of Thought and Noncontradiction with a couple of statements:

So then, we can conclude, there is absolute truth.  If Jesus makes these claims, we also see they are diametrically opposed to many other truth claims in our world.  Perhaps non so strong as the one made at the Last Supper:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6).

So why would I close with this statement?  Why this quote from Jesus?

If we can apply all the Laws of Thought, which include the Law of Noncontradiction, then we have to take a statement like the one Jesus makes, and we need to take a look at it.

Why?

In this statement we find a claim of exclusivity.  With all the religions in the world, how can any one of them claim exclusivity?  How can a Christian claim exclusivity?

The interesting thing about those questions is this:  Christianity is the only religion this is frequently asked of.  If we’re being truthful, we realize that every religion in the world claims exclusivity, and every religion has a point of exclusion.

What example can I give?  Well, let’s look to the Hindu religion.  Hindus believe in two basic doctrines that they will never compromise on:  karma and reincarnation.  If we take a look at history we’ll see the Buddhist religion was born out of a fundamental rejection of two other Hindu doctrines.  Buddha refused to submit to the authority of the Vedas (most ancient Hindu scriptures) and the caste system (a class structure determined by birth) of Hinduism.

As Ravi Zacharias writes,

“The issue here is not who was right or wrong. The truth is that they were systematically different—both claiming rightness.”

Let’s look at Islam.  The religion of Islam is crystal clear in its belief in its exclusivity of God.  You will never hear a Muslim tell you that you can believe whatever you want and all religions are equally valid.

In our Post-Truth and Alternative Facts culture, these kinds of claims often engender anger and scorn. We’ll brandish the terms politically incorrect or narrow-mindedness.  Before we let those thoughts in, however, we have to remember that it is the sheer essence of truth that points us to this reality:

Truth, by its very definition, is exclusive.

Here’s what I mean (and you might need to go back and read the first two posts to bring yourself up to speed on what I’m about to say):  everything can cannot be true.

If everything is true, then nothing is false. And if nothing is false then it would also be true to say everything is false. It can’t be both ways. Ever. It’s philosophically and logically impossible.  It doesn’t fit into reality.

The brass tacks is that even those who contest truth’s exclusivity virtually exclude those who do not deny it. The truth quickly comes to the surface. The law of non-contradiction, then, does apply to reality: Two contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense. Therefore, to contest the law of non-contradiction is to agree with it simultaneously. So that means:

Truth is all-inclusive exclusive.

Where do we land the plane here?  First, we shouldn’t be surprised by truth-claims, but rather hear them and research them before we believe them.  If we put this scientifically: if the test authenticates truth, then we are morally constrained to believe it!  This is where many folks try to run away and flee for fear of being exclusive, or where the cultural maxim of tolerance tries to trounce exclusivity.

As G.K. Chesterton said,

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” – G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World?

Now back to the statement Jesus made at the Last Supper:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, ESV) 

This isn’t the only place Jesus makes these exclusive claims about Himself.  The ” Seven I AM sayings” of John’s Gospel assert a point of exclusion as well:

  • I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35)
    • 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
  • I am the Light of the World (John 8:12)
    • 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • I am the Door (John 10:9)
    • I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
  • I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11)
    • 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
  • I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
    • 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live…
  • I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)
    • “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.
  • I am the True Vine (John 15:1)
    • “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

The Apostles also said similar things.  Peter preaches this:

“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole…Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12)

Paul writes:

“But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” (1 Cor. 10:20-21)

And also:

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols?  (2 Cor. 6:14-16a)

There are a few others in the New Testament, but for time’s sake we’ll leave them out.

So what does this have to do with anything?

Well, since we’re talking points of exclusion and statements of exclusivity, we find ourselves at a quandary.  What is it you ask?

If Jesus (and His Apostles) said these very exclusionary statements, then what they are saying is that Jesus is the only way for a human being to be reconciled to God.

I leave you with this thought until the next post: Jesus Christ is either the inexhaustible God or one dismally lost.

Next  post we’ll ask the Question:  Is Jesus the Only Way to salvation? Or to put it another way:  is Christianity true and all other religions false?

I love you.  God loves you so much more,

Scott

 

 

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