Is Christianity “the one true way”?


I believe that it is.  But what does this mean?

To begin, I do not mean that only in Christianity is there truth.  Nor do I mean that one can only understand truth if one is a Christian.  Rather, I mean that only in Christianity do I find love that is fully true and fully “for me” and truth that knows me, affirms me, critiques me, and yet offers me back to myself as more the self I long to be than any other.

Here’s why:

My imagination, reason, emotions—all of my faculties and what it is for me to be human and “me”—and my experiences with and of God point to love and truth as being at the core of human existence.  In other words, they are the most essential elements for and within the existence of human beings.

Now this is a big claim, I know.  And beyond questions about a) the exact nature of love and truth, and b) my response to those who don’t value truth and love as I do, there is another issue: isn’t personal experience rather too limited a basis for one’s beliefs?

For I have not arrived at this conclusion based on an existential comparison of various religions—I have not been a Jew, a Hindu, a Muslim, etc. and then compared such with my experience as a Christian.

No, my claim is not that my experience is more real / meaningful than that of others, but that a) love and truth are more essential to right human existence than all else, and b) that love and truth have their origin in the Christian God love and that in relationship with this God we experience the fulfillment of love and truth in our lives.

So my personal experience must be commensurate with who God claims to be.  Only then will there be reciprocity between my truth, as truth-for-me, and God’s ultimate truth, or Truth.

In other words, examining a religion’s truth claims is crucial, because we can only expect from a religion what it claims to offer.  And for me the biblical truth claims are radically different from what I perceive elsewhere:

  1. God created us to be in loving, truthful relationship with us and so that we might be likewise related with God, the earth, our fellows, and ourselves;
  2. We do things that sunder those relationship, which we call ‘sin’;
  3. God chose a people (Israel) and made an arrangement with them (a covenant) for the purpose of dealing with sin and its result, which is separation from God and ultimately death (more on this later).  By Israel keeping the covenant the whole world was to come into right relationship with God;
  4. However, Israel instead viewed the covenant as a matter of national pride (rather than national responsibility) and distorted its laws, which broke the covenant;
  5. Jesus came to fulfill the covenant by living as Israel was to have lived and by accepting the consequences of Israel having broken the covenant (i.e., death) upon his person, so that Israel was not destroyed;
  6. Fulfilling the covenant did not simply result in continuing the old testamental norms but inaugurated the far grander reality of the Kingdom of God, whereby all of existence is able to be reconciled to God through Jesus;
  7. This “new way” meant that the whole world could now be in right  relationship with God, and that God was not simply our sovereign (as with Israel) but our father (as Jesus taught a revolutionary new way to pray: “Our Father who is in heaven . . .”);
  8. So Christians are essentially characterized in two ways, as reflects who God is: as servants who offer obedient service to God the sovereign (i.e., being beholden to God’s t/Truth) and as children who love God, even as God who is our true Father loves us (i.e., being in love with God, who loves us and is love).

The point is this: love and truth are integral to God’s nature (and to the relationship that God desires with us), yet they are likewise quintessentially human (as essential to becoming fully the creatures that we are meant to be, through being in right relationship with God).

Love and truth: the road and the destination

Before going further I think it important to indicate why I’m writing about this topic: why I think it’s an important topic and what I hope to gain by writing on it.

First, my general topic is evangelical Christianity.  More particularly, given my experience of God “showing up” in my existence, I’m interested in why evangelical Christianity is a good thing and what “works” about it.  However, in order to get there much of what I’m going to write about is why evangelical Christianity is a bad thing and what doesn’t “work” about it.

For some people, holding such a contradictory stance (because I really do mean bad—not just “misunderstood” or “regrettable”—and I really do mean doesn’t work—not just “in process” or “fallible”) is a non sequitur.  This is because in many cases Christianity as a whole is either a very good thing or a very bad thing.  And the matter is settled.  If you are in either of these camps, I hope in the course of my writing to change your mind about this.

Literally.  In other words, if you are a Christian (or are well-disposed towards Christianity) I hope to have you see the very real problems and failures with Christian belief and practice and to embrace better ways of believing and living: ways that orient you toward yourself, others, your world, and God with more truth and greater love.  In essence, “better” because they are more Christian in being more authentically human, and more human in being more truly Christian.

And if you are a non-Christian (or are ill-disposed towards Christianity) I hope in the same course to have you re-consider the possibilities and value in Christianity—I hope to re-open what is likely, for you, a closed discussion.

I hope to do this by offering resources such that accepting these possibilities is not an act of stupidity or desperation but is legitimate and valid.  “Legitimate” in that it is commensurate with your best aspirations for selfhood and your clearest understanding of truth about the world and your existence.  “Valid” because it engages an essential interaction of affirming (you and your beliefs) while yet critiquing (them in direction of your / their ownmost possibilities).  Legitimate and valid, in essence, because their acceptance completes selfhood, understanding, and relationship in the direction of more truth and greater love.

Throughout this writing one of my key presuppositions is that these two things are co-central to both human existence and Christian faith (or more so, to the Christian God): truth and love, love and truth.  Yet this is not only where I’m coming from but, actually, where I’m ultimately headed.

Yes, literally.  As Augustine believed that the goal of human life was happiness (not God or relationship with God), so I believe that that which is most essential to human existence is love and truth (not God or relationship with God).  Now I too, like Augustine, believe that God (the Christian God, whose identity and character do need fleshing out, though we’ll put this off for now) has a good bit to do with how this works out—more on this too, later.

But suffice it for now to indicate my belief that love and truth are the two key constituents to the topic under discussion, both as its goals and its means.