Jesus The Only Way To Heaven
- Friday, June 24, 2005
In the Jesus Movement of the 1960s and '70s, the "One Way" sign-the index finger held high-became a popular icon. "One Way" bumper stickers and lapel pins were everywhere, and the "One Way" slogan for a time became the identifying catchphrase of all evangelicalism.
Evangelicalism in those days was an extremely diverse movement. (In some ways it was even more eclectic than it is today.) It encompassed everything from Jesus People, who were an integral part of that era's youth culture, to straight-line fundamentalists, who scorned everything contemporary. But all of them had at least one important thing in common: They knew that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. "One Way" seemed an unshakable belief that all evangelicals held in common.
That is no longer the case. The evangelical movement of today is no longer unified on this issue. Some who call themselves evangelicals are openly insisting that faith alone in Jesus is not the only way to heaven. They are now convinced that people of all faiths will be in heaven. Others are simply cowardly, embarrassed, or hesitant to affirm the exclusivity of the gospel in an era when inclusivity, pluralism, and tolerance are deemed supreme virtues by the secular world. They imagine it would be a tremendous cultural faux pas to declare that Christianity is the truth and all other faiths are wrong. Apparently, the evangelical movement's biggest fear today is that Christians will be seen as out of harmony with the world.
Why has this dramatic shift taken place? Why has evangelicalism abandoned what believers once all agreed is absolutely true? I believe it is because church leaders, in their desperate quest to be relevant and fashionable, have actually failed to see where the contemporary world is going and why.
The dominant worldview in secular and academic circles today is called postmodernism. To the postmodernist, reality is whatever the individual imagines it to be. That means what is "true" is determined subjectively by each person, and there is no such thing as objective, authoritative truth that governs or applies to humanity universally. The postmodernist naturally believes it is pointless to argue whether opinion A is superior to opinion B. After all, if reality is merely a construct of the human mind, one person's perspective of truth is ultimately just as good as another's. "Truth" becomes nothing more than a personal opinion, usually best kept to oneself.
That is the one essential, non-negotiable demand postmodernism makes of everyone: We are not supposed to think we know any objective truth. Postmodernists often suggest that every opinion should be shown equal respect. And therefore, on the surface, postmodernism seems driven by a broad-minded concern for harmony and tolerance. It all sounds very charitable and altruistic. But what really underlies the postmodernist belief system is an utter intolerance for every worldview that makes any universal truth-claims-particularly biblical Christianity.
Postmodernism and the Church
The church today is filled with people who are advocating postmodern ideas. Some of them do it self-consciously and deliberately, but most do it unwittingly. (Having imbibed too much of the spirit of the age, they are simply regurgitating worldly opinion.) The evangelical movement as a whole, still recovering from its long battle with modernism, is not prepared for a new and different adversary. Many Christians have therefore not yet recognized the extreme danger posed by postmodernist thought.
Postmodernism's influence has clearly infected the church already. Evangelicals are toning down their message so that the gospel's stark truth-claims don't sound so jarring to the postmodern ear. Many shy away from stating unequivocally that the Bible is truth and all other religious systems and worldviews are false. Some who call themselves Christians have gone even further, purposefully denying the exclusivity of Christ and openly questioning His claim that He is the only way to God.
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