James R. Edwards is a Presbyterian
minister and Professor Emeritus of Theology at Whitworth University in Spokane,
Washington. He wrote a book entitled, Is
Jesus the Only Savior? (Eerdmans, 2005). Edwards’ answer was an emphatic
Yes. It’s not the sort of answer to ingratiate him to the World Council of
Churches, of which his denomination is a part. I wonder if the WCC gave him the
proverbial cold shoulder?
One review of Is Jesus the Only Savior? said:
“After tracing the currents of modernity from the
Enlightenment to the Jesus Seminar, Edwards contends that the assumptions of
most skeptical historical-Jesus scholars are no more intellectually defensible
than the claims of faith. He then assembles extensive support to show that
Jesus considered himself the unique and saving mission of God to the world.”
|"The Last Supper" (1495)|
Leonardo da Vinci
The belief that Jesus Christ alone
is the saviour of humanity and the only way to salvation has been a foundational
tenet of Christianity from its beginning.
At the Last Supper, Jesus spoke to his disciples about the way to heaven.
He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father
except through me.” (John 14.6.)
Jesus went on to promise “I will ask the
Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit
of truth, which the world cannot accept.” (verse 16-17) After Christ’s
Ascension, Peter was filled with the holy Spirit (as promised) and proclaimed
this about Jesus: “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any
other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”
(Acts 4.12) Pretty clear, pretty
exclusive. Saint Timothy was equally clear: “For there is one God and one mediator
between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2.5)
This sort of message is not generally
welcome to our age of pseudo-pluralism where truth is relative and people want to
hear about many paths to God. But if the
testimony of Jesus, Peter and Timothy are to be believed, this is not true. The
only way to God is through Jesus Christ.
Should I believe those who espouse that all religions are basically the
same and there are many paths to God, or should I believe Jesus, Saints Peter
and Timothy. Hmmm, I wonder who it will
Truth is rarely fashionable—but it
is knowable. The truth is knowable
because Jesus Christ is truth and the he is the saviour of the world, and we can can know Him.
Many people in the 21st Century
no longer accept that there is such a thing as truth, and certainly no such
thing as absolute truth. To them, the
only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth—there’s no right and
wrong, only opinions. All ethics are
situational. (Actually, if there’s no
such thing as right and wrong then the concept of ethics is meaningless.) Everybody is tolerant of everything; the only
thing not to be tolerated is intolerance.
People must rely on laws as the
only recourse for moral direction. But even laws can be changed with a simple
majority vote and a stroke of a legislative pen. In a world of relativism, there
is no higher Truth that exists apart from what legislatures declare and
enforce. The final arbiter of truth is power. Change the government and what
was right and true yesterday is usurped by a new set of standards and a
different set of lawmakers. What was previously unthinkable can becomes the law
of the land. Germany showed us that in the last century.
Without a higher moral Law or
standard for people to agree upon and follow (or an author and giver of that
higher Law or standard), all that’s left is consensus of those who are most
powerful and cunning. If there’s no lawgiver, no Messiah to save us from
ourselves, then ultimately most people will find no meaning or purpose to life,
no truth, life will have no intrinsic value.
Society may have to hunt down and
jail criminals like Paul Bernardo or John Wayne Gacy to protect itself. But if we seriously believe there is no such
thing a right and wrong, no truth, then it’s pointless condemning what they
did. After all, when they committed their sexual abductions, tortures and
murders, their personal definition of truth may have been dominance and
self-gratification. Somebody may
interject to say, “They had no right to impose their views on others or kill
those women!” Why not? If there is no right and wrong, then there’s no
basis to make such a claim.
That’s why I find 21st
Century relativists suspect. In one breath they maintain there is no objective right
and wrong, no absolute Truth. In the
next breath they’re decrying the destruction of the rain forests, or using
animals in medical experimentation, or they’re marching in the streets against
globalization. Methinks the relativist believes
in objective truth more than he’s letting on and he expects the rest of us to
agree (or at least acquiesce). Why? Well, according to the relativist, each
person has his personal truth, his own standard of right and wrong, and he must
not inflict his standards or morals on others. But that is exactly what relativists
are doing when they march in the streets shouting and waving banners.
Now, if there is such a thing as objective truth, where does it come from?
Christianity says Jesus is the Truth. His crucifixion and Resurrection
gave rise to a tidal wave of love and hope for millions of people for more than
two thousand years.
Each person must decide if Jesus is
the only saviour of the world. Personally, I’ve concluded the answer is Yes.
Christ has utterly changed my life for close to forty years.