How to respond to people who say their religion is the only way?
Transcription by- Keshav Gopal Das
Question- Some people say that – Jesus is the only way. How can we respond to such people?
Answer- First we need to understand that God is unlimited. Now if we say that path to God is limited to only one then essentially we are limiting God. We are making God a monopoly of a particular tradition. We are making the unlimited limited by claiming monopoly on access to him. This is actually narrow mindedness.
Now if we say, Jesus is the only way, then what about all the people who live and die without coming to know about Jesus? To many people to whom there is no preaching done, what happen to those, are they going to hell?
I once met once a Christian like that. I asked him, what happens to all the children who are aborted? Their idea is that if you accept Jesus as your savior then you are going to go to heaven otherwise you are going to hell. Then I asked, what happens to children who are unborn who never got a chance to accept Jesus. The Christian responded that since the unborn children are innocent, they will be taken care by God directly. I replied, if that is the case, then we should abort everyone, because after taking birth, they may or may not surrender to Jesus, they may go to heaven or they may go to hell also. There is a risk, but you abort them directly, then they are guaranteed to go to God. This argument is completely illogical.
Then what about all the people who lived before Jesus? How are they going to be delivered?
The basic point to understand here is that all this is based on an exclusivist statement which needs to be understood properly. Purpose of the exclusivist statement is to inspire focus. It is not an absolute truth. We can understand this with the help of an analogy of doctor and patient.
A patient comes to a particular doctor for treatment but after consulting many other doctors in the town. This doctor gives some prescription to him tells that you will be cured if you take this prescription. Now the patient starts arguing with the doctor- oh no I have been to this doctor and that doctor and like that this patient starts arguing with the doctor. Hearing all his rumbling the doctor stops the patient and tells him firmly – forget everything and just do what I am telling and you will be cured!
Now this statement is not to imply that all the other doctors are quacks. The point is to create a focus. Similarly the purpose of such exclusivist statements in scriptures is to create a focus. Hence we need to understand the purpose and not make them into absolute truth.
As far as removal of sins is concerned, Krishna clearly tells in Bhagvad-gita:
sarva dharman parityajye, mamekam sharanam vraja
aham tvam sarva papebhyo mokshyishyami ma shuchah
Krishna mentions that – I’ll free you from all sins. It is not that any particular tradition or teacher has a sole right to free someone from sins. The principle is that if we devote to Krishna (or God) then he will free us from all sins, or he may use different instruments for that.
Also understand that there will be some hardline Christians (or any other religionist) who will not appreciate reason, so leave them alone. Some others would be more open minded to whom you can preach. If you try to preach a hardliner again and again then the whole thing will degenerate into an argument with nothing achieved. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. I suggest that we find other people who would be more receptive and open-minded.