Truth is always exclusive. While it’s a big statement it’s been discussed already in a recent post here: https://thinkingbetweenthelines.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/exclusive-should-christians-claim-to-have-the-only-way/.
For now suffice it to say that all religions are making exclusive truth claims (saying that what they say is the only true option. Now, some are more willing to try to take in other beliefs, something like trying to bring a lion into your house because you thought it needed a home. But wild lions make poor pets and religious beliefs don’t live well within other faiths. For example, Hindus have historically tried to see Jesus Christ as an incarnation of Krishna. The omnivorous Unitarian Universalists would bring just about any truth claim into their circle. So when the lion comes to live in your house you must control it; when you take in another truth claim you must castrate it to make it safely fit.
We cannot have non-exclusive truth. Somebody is always wrong. And there is comfort in that: nobody wants to live in a land without borders. But if we cannot have non-exclusive truth would we prefer non-exclusive love? Perhaps.
Think of this: there are different types of love (the Greek language of the New Testament categorizes several – brotherly, romantic, unconditional, and familial). Of these only one is exclusive: romantic love. By its very nature it falls apart if it gets spread around. All the others can go from myself to any number of people and only grow by being given away to all and sundry. But if I tell someone I love romantically that I feel free to love any number of other people exactly the same do I truly love that person at all? How would you feel if the tables were turned on you?
Sometimes we are confused that Jesus expresses unconditional but not un-exclusive love. He loves just because that is His nature (I John 4:8). But love and truth are always wed and God can’t love everything. Would we want Him to? Would we want evil and good to be equal in His eyes? Would we want promises that we are told we can trust but that are not exclusive and can change at any time?
No, love chooses. It is the nature of love. Truth chooses. God chooses. We choose even if we choose to not choose. The beauty is that God chooses us (John 15:6). Truth and love require choice but they also require commitment and we don’t have a God who commits to move in with us but to marry us (in fact this analogy is used across the whole of Scripture). Because of this Love we need not merely shack up with the Truth.
There is a great outcry against the claims of Christianity to be the one right way and that Jesus Christ is the one true God. How could one religion have the arrogance to say that it is the only right way and that it has a monopoly on truth?
Something that must be understood is that truth must be exclusive. If it doesn’t claim to exclude falsehoods it cannot claim to be true. So all statements of truth are exclusive statements. Because of this each religion is making a claim to exclusive truth. Some are more willing to try to include (or really to co-opt) others but even they do so within the parameters of what they say is true. But no belief system can be a belief if it’s designed to not be believed. That would be a bit silly.
I think one would also find it rather uncomfortable. Nobody wants to live in a land without borders. You see, if Jesus might be admired but is not making claims at the expense of other claims then we cannot even bother to trust him. If we say that there must be another “way” we automatically beg the question: another way to what, exactly? At that point we cannot even say what the goal is anymore. That is because goals that are not exclusive will never be reached. And what about Christ’s claim of love? Would we prefer a non-exclusive love? Would we like it better if Jesus loved not only goodness but also evil? Or that he makes promises we can trust but they are not exclusive? You cannot be satisfied by a belief with which you are merely shacking up.
But the offer of Christ is not exclusive. The gospel is not only for those of the right ethnicity or the right gender. It is not for the healthy and strong or the intelligent or wealthy. You do not have to be good enough for Christ, if anything you might have to be bad enough.
In our world we have “exclusive” clubs making the word synonymous with luxury and elitism. Places are said to be better because of the people they keep out: those who not good enough. The kingdom of heaven could understandably make the same claim. In fact, no institution of man really has the right to call itself great because it keeps out other men. Only the realm of God in all its holiness can do something like that. But God did not choose that way. He made a place that was magnificent not because of whom it kept out but because of who gets to come in.
Of course not all are accepted and this is one of the aspects of the kingdom which many are offended by. But it does not exclude because of who you are; it excludes those who cling to who they are… shall we say “exclusively”.
The truth of Christ is exclusive; the offer of Christ is not.