How do I convince a person that Christianity is the only true faith without appearing intolerant of other religions?
How do you convince people that Christianity should be the only religion/faith in this world? So many people make it seem like it’s impossible and ridiculous to think this and they make you feel like in a sense that you’re being intolerant.
First of all, you cannot convince anyone of something they are not willing to be convinced of. All anyone can do is present a reasonable case for any particular belief and people will decide whether or not they will listen to such evidence and argument.
Second of all, Despite so many saying that all religions are more or less the same and they are “different paths to the same goal,” this idea is utter nonsense. If Islam is true, then Buddhism is not true. If Hinduism is true, then Christianity is definitely not true. Two diametrically opposed claims cannot both be true at the same time. Let me explain what I mean by this. For example, according to Hindu thinking, there is no personal God, but rather there is a universal force or energy which pervades the universe which is known as brahman. We are all part of this thing. In essence, in Hinduism we are all God, or we all contain God or God is in us or something like that. This is known as pantheism. If pantheism is true, then the universe must be eternal because the universe and God are co-existent. If pantheism is true, then Christianity is definitely not true, as Christianity claims that there exists a personal God who created the universe out of nothing. The Buddhist idea of God is a bit hard to tie down, as Buddha was officially agnostic about God, but everything I see in Buddism tells me that it is essentially pantheistic as well. God pervades the universe and we have a spark of God in us. We need to discover the God in us. Again, if Buddhism is true then Islam is a lie, as is Christianity. If atheism is true, then surely all major world religions are false.
What about Islam? Essentially, Islam’s world view is that of theism–which proposes a created universe; one which was created by a personal God. So, up to this point Christianity and Islam could both be true. However, in Islam God (or Allah) is distant an unknowable. He is a God of love and of mercy, but not one of love. In Islam, the idea of a personal God coming to earth in the form of a human is blasphemy. But according to Christianity this is exactly what happened. Islam and Christianity cannot possibly be true. If we claim that the Bible is inspired, we must say, in order to behave in a rational way, that Muhammad is a false prophet and Islam is a false religion, as the Qur’an is very definite that Jesus is not God and that he was not crucified on a cross.
Therefore, one must decide, based on the nature of reality and on other external evidence (such as reliability of inspired texts, historical believability, correspondence of claimed cosmology with known facts about the universe, fulfillment of prophecy and other types of rational arguments) which of the world religions is true. Either that or they are all false, but the CERTAINLY cannot all be true and none of the major world religions can simultaneously be true.
By the way, it is true that most religions have certain things in common. Most religions have a basic list of moral rights and wrongs that are similar. To this extent they are related, and this is because God has put a basic conscience in all of us and we inherently know, to some extent, right from wrong. However, the similarities are on the surface and the essential nature of these different religions are entirely different.
Jesus said that no one comes to the Father but by him (John 14:6). The apostle Peter declared boldly that “there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Now, these statements are either true or they are false. These are the only two options. What we need to do is to decide if Jesus has the right to say this and if it is true. Given the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead, that he worked incredible public miracles and that he fulfilled dozens of very specific prophecies, I conclude that what he says is true.
Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that a person claims that Christianity is true, and that, therefore Islam and Confucianism and Bahai and atheism and Hinduism and Buddhism are simply false religions, is this an intolerant statement? The answer is that the statement is not intolerant. Are some Christians intolerant? Unfortunately, yes. Let me explain. What if I tell you that two plus two is four and you tell me that two plus two is five. I will tell you that you are wrong. Is this an example of intolerance? No it is not. If I tell you that two plus two is four and anyone who believes that two plus two is five ought to be thrown in jail, excluded from citizenship or declared publicly to be a bad person, then that would be intolerance. Saying that one thing is right and another is wrong is not intolerance. Saying that people do not have a right to believe something or persecuting them for disagreeing, that is intolerance. Again, some who claim to be Christians are intolerant. They are intolerant of Muslims or of Communists or of Democrats or of homosexual people. All such behavior is unacceptable. Jesus was tolerant of many kinds of people, including “sinners.” He did not agree with sinful behavior and he did not agree with the claims of other religions, but he was a tolerant person in that he loved people, even when he disagreed with them.
Sorry for such a long answer, but your question really had two parts:
1. Whether, in fact, Christianity is true, which would mean that other supposed ways to God are false ones.
2. Whether holding to this makes one intolerant.
I believe the first is true, but the second is false.