Why I am not a Unitarian

I’ve always wrestled with Christ’s claim that He is the only way to God. How could He be the only way?

I was given the opportunity to speak about this at my church last Sunday, and in doing so I dove headfirst into the historical evidence for the life of Christ. What I discovered literally blew me away.

You can listen to my sermon or download it here:

http://www.jcboston.org/audio/4-22-12KellySteinhausIsChristtheOnlyWay.mp3

First, I asked people in Harvard Square about what they think about Jesus, and what they think about His claim that He was the only way to God. Listen to their responses here:

As you can see, pluralism is the prevailing mindset of people in this area.

Why am I not a Unitarian? First, I came to understand that all religions cannot all be correct because they believe contradictory claims. 

Either the Jews and the Muslims are correct in saying that Jesus was a prophet, or the Christians are right in saying that Jesus is more than a prophet, He is the son of God – but Jesus cannot be both God and not God at the same time.

Either there is one God like Christians & Muslims believe, or there are many Gods like the Hindus believe, or there is no God like the atheists believe, but they all can’t be true at same time because they flat-out contradict one another.

It’s illogical to think that God would go over to one side of the world and tell people “here’s one way to become reconciled with me” and then go to another place and say “no, here’s a completely contraductory way to please me,” and so forth.

So we acknowledge that all religions cannot be correct because they are contradictory to one another. So why Christianity? Why believe that Jesus is the way, as opposed to Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Buddha or any other religious figure?

We have to find out what is true – and in order to do this we have to look into the evidence to support a particular belief.

Historians do not debate about the existence of Jesus Christ – looking in ancient sources outside the bible, there are more than 39 secular sources which talk about the person of Jesus, and affirm that there was a man named Jesus who was from Nazareth, lived a virtuous life, performed unusual feats, was crucified in Judea under Pontius Pilate, and whose disciples multiplied rapidly and worshiped Christ as God.

 So the man named Jesus actually lived. But what evidence is there that Christ claimed to be God?
-John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes the Father except through me.”
-Tells people he forgives their sins (Mark 2:1)
-Refers to himself as the messiah, the Christ (John 4:25, Mark 14)
So we see that Jesus didn’t just live, actually claimed He was God on earth. But everyone is free to make the claim as Jesus did that they are the way, the truth, and the life. I can say it or you can say it but that wouldn’t make it true. How do we know that Jesus was telling the truth? What evidence is there that Jesus is who He says He is?

1. Jesus’ life was characterized by extraordinary miracles which defied the laws of nature

Healings, deliverances, signs & wonder followed Him wherever He traveled – Jesus stilled a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee, turned water into wine at a wedding, fed a massive crowd of 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. You don’t see anyone else doing that.

Thousands of people saw and experienced these miracles. Christianity is unique in that it provides publicly verifiable evidence for the life of Christ.

2. Jesus fulfilled ALL the prophecies of the Hebraic scriptures

The Old Testament documents the story of the Jewish people and documents God speaking through people that someone would be coming, a Messiah that the entire Old Testament points towards. There are over 60 major messianic prophecies with 270 ramifications, and every single one of them was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Some may argue that this happened by chance. Peter Stoner calculated the chance that any man might have lived and fulfilled just eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. If you were to take that many silver dollars, lay them throughout the face of Texas, covering the state two feet deep, then mark one dollar, blindfold a man and tell him to pick the right one, the man would have the same chance of picking the right coin as writing eight prophecies that came true on any one man. That’s just eight prophecies, but there were more than 270.

No other religion I know about has prophecies given hundreds and thousands of years before were fulfilled in one person.

3. Jesus had a unique moral character 

Jesus claimed to be God – and because God is perfect, Jesus had to be perfect. There is no evidence that Jesus ever sinned in his life on earth. In none of the gospels we find any confession of sin – and others such as Pontius Pilate, John Paul and Peter write about the morality of Christ. This is contrary to saints and mystics in the ages, who as they drew closer to God they got more overwhelmed with their own failure and shortcomings.

4. His Resurrection

Jesus lived, was beaten and crucified on cross, then placed in tomb which was guarded by a huge stone and Roman soldiers, three days later no one could find His body, and then He appeared to over 500 people afterwards. Dr. Simon Greenleaf, the Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University, determined that there is more evidence for the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history

We worship not just a man who lived and died but a God who is bigger than death, who is alive and living through His followers today.

Because of all these reasons, we must trust that Jesus is who He says He is. He must be the way to God.

Still not convinced?

CS Lewis said “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Was Jesus a liar? When he made the claim that He was God, He knew He was not God, then he was lying deliberately and deceiving His followers. This would make him a hypocrite because He told others to be honest at all costs. This view of Jesus as a liar doesn’t coincide with what we know of Him or the results of His life or teachings.

Was Jesus a lunatic? Couldn’t he have thought He was God, but been mistaken? But Jesus spoke some of the most profound sayings ever recorded, that are commonly quoted and known throughout society. The skill and depth of his teachings support total mental soundness.

It doesn’t seem that Jesus was a liar, nor a lunatic, so was He the Son of God? Yet one has only so many choices…

But WHY? Why would God send His son in the world to die?

I agree that Christians would be narrow-minded if there really were many paths and they were saying that theirs was the best way. But we’re not saying that – we’re saying that the truth of the matter is that someone had to pay for the penalty of the wrongdoings that keep us from God – and because of Jesus’ sinlessness, He is the only one who can substitute.

When Jesus said He was the way, the truth, and the life, He wasn’t saying it out of arrogance but out of great compassion. He knew that there something that separated us from God, that only by trusting in Him could the penalty of sin be paid.

I don’t believe Jesus because it makes me feel good, I believe in Jesus because true, only because of what He did that I can be in relationship with God

Acts 4:12 says that there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

John 20:31 says “But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life in His name.”

What about you?

What do you believe? What evidence do you have to support your beliefs?

As CS Lewis said – You must make your choice. If Christ is who He says He is, it demands a response from us.

If you’d like to give your life to following Jesus, you can pray, “Jesus – I’m sorry that I’ve lived far from you. I thank you for dying on the cross for me. Please enter my heart today. I want to give my life to you.”

I guarantee your life will never be the same. Jesus radically transformed the world when He came, and He will continue to overcome evil with good by living through His followers.

If you’re not there yet, say a simple prayer to ask God to reveal Himself to you. Just talk to God openly. You will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart.

Resources:

Josh McDowell’s book A Ready Defense – http://www.greatcom.org/resources/areadydefense
Lee Strobel’s article “Is Jesus the Only Way to God” – http://www.jesuschristonly.com/sermons/lee-strobel/jesus-the-only-way-to-god.html
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