By Jason Carlson
Don’t all religions lead to God? Isn’t one faith as good as another? Isn’t it arrogant to say that only one religion leads to salvation? These are some common questions that people in our pluralistic world are wrestling with today. In a world full of religious options, many people of goodwill, including Evangelical Christians, have trouble with the idea that there would only be one way to enter into a saving relationship with God. However, this is exactly what God’s word tells us; salvation is only found in a relationship with Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).
The problem that many Christians often face when communicating this biblical truth, is that many non-Christians will simply reply, “but I don’t believe the Bible”. So, how can we as Christians convey this critical biblical truth to people who don’t necessarily accept the scriptures as God’s word? This is where a simple little philosophical argument can be extremely helpful; it’s called the “Law of Non-Contradiction”.
In the philosophical discipline of Logic, there are numerous rules that govern the process of forming a coherent and rational argument. One of these rules is the Law of Non-Contradiction. The Law of Non-Contradiction formally stated is that “A cannot be non-A”. In plain language, this simply means that something that is true cannot be anything but that thing which is true. For example, if it is true that Jason Carlson alone wrote this article, nobody but Jason Carlson could have written this article. Either Jason Carlson alone wrote it or he did not. To say that Jason Carlson and Jane Doe both individually wrote this article would be a violation of the Law of Non-Contradiction.
When it comes to the questions of religious pluralism and promoting the Christian claim of exclusivity (salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone), the Law of Non-Contradiction can serve as a valuable resource in a Christian’s apologetic tool-box. Here’s how it works:
All religions in the world make absolute truth claims regarding the way to salvation…
- Christians proclaim that salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
- Hindus claim that salvation (liberation) is achieved when a person transcends this world of illusion by building up enough positive karma (good works) to escape the cycle of reincarnation.
- Muslims state that the possibility of salvation* results from submitting one’s life to Allah and faithfully carrying-out the Five Pillars of Islam.
- Buddhists say that salvation (Nirvana) is the result of detaching one’s self from the desires of the physical, material world.
Each of the world’s religions claims to promote the true path to salvation, but each of these religions provides a distinct and contrary path from all of the others. Thus, one of these paths to salvation is true, or none of them are true, but they cannot all be true at the same time; this would be a violation of the Law of Non-Contradiction.
For the Christian who uses this apologetic argument in response to the questions of religious pluralism and to promote the Christian claim of exclusivity, it is important to understand that this argument does not prove that Jesus is the one true path to salvation. What this argument demonstrates is that from a philosophical standpoint, it is irrational to claim that all religions are equally valid paths to salvation. The idea of religious pluralism (“all roads lead to God”) is philosophically invalid according to the Law of Non-Contradiction.
In order to show that Jesus Christ is the one true way to salvation, Christians must be ready (1 Peter 3:15) with other apologetic tools: arguments for the historicity of Jesus Christ, the reliability of the gospels, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, etc. There are terrific reasons for believing each of those truths; however, we will have to save those for another posting.
*In Islam there is no certainty of salvation. Allah, the god of Islam, is capricious by nature and therefore even the most devout Muslim has no certainty of salvation. The only certainty of salvation in Islam is to die as a martyr in Jihad or holy war.