by Bill Nugent
The auditorium was packed for the annual Ultimate Meaning of Life Debate at a midwestern college. This year the debate was between a philosophy professor and a Christian minister. At this time in the debate it’s the professor’s turn to confront the minister with a difficult question, a question that the professor hopes the minister cannot answer or is forced to answer in such a way that would undermine his position.
The professor then cleared his throat and asked his opponent or should I say confronted his opponent with the following: “You maintain that the Bible is the word of God and in the Bible, in John 14:6, Jesus said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.’ Therefore my question to you tonight is ‘Do all Jews go to hell since they don’t believe in Jesus?'” The professor’s cheering section came alive with approving twitter. They thought the minister would look bad no matter how he would answer this one.
The minister said “Let me begin by saying that all religions, explicitly or implicitly claim to be the one true religion. All religions — and philosophies — make truth claims and by making such truth claims deny the validity of all opposing truth claims. Anyone who has studied logic should know that there can’t possibly be two or more true religions. There has to be only one true religion because all religions contradict each other at very basic levels regarding salvation. Anyone who approaches this logically knows that it is impossible for two contradictory truth claims to both be true.
“Let me clearly state that when I use the terms ‘Jews’ and ‘Judaism’ in answering the professor’s question I refer to traditional Rabbinic Judaism which has rejected Jesus as Messiah.
“In our pluralistic American society we may try to say that Judaism and Christianity are saying basically the same thing but any logical examination of the truth claims of both faiths reveals the folly of such a statement. In regard to morals, Judaism and Christianity have some real points in common but in regard to salvation, that is the receiving of forgiveness from sins, the two faiths are directly contradictory. The two faiths can’t possibly both be true. One must be false.
“The professor singles out Christianity as being narrow and exclusive and that it teaches that Jews don’t reach paradise. Let me mention here, to put this in perspective, that Islam regards Jews as lost infidels, Hindus regard Jews as those who’ll be reincarnated in lower positions in life.
Secular Humanists — like the professor I’m debating tonight — regard Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as mere descendants of apes that had no souls and the Secular Humanists also regard Jewish dietary laws and holidays as mere superstition and Secular Humanists also believe there’s no afterlife at all — no one goes to heaven — but death results in the abolition of consciousness.
“Even the faith that says that ‘anyone who lives a decent moral life goes to heaven’ certainly would regard a large portion of humanity — including many Jews — as not measuring up to decent moral standards and therefore missing out on heaven. Would anyone fairly regard this as anti-Semitism? No, because to simply disagree with the truth claims of Judaism is not anti-Semitic.
“All logical, intellectual inquiry seeks to find solid, objective TRUTH. I believe that Christianity is the one true faith because of the sound, rational evidence that supports it. Our faith is not a blind faith but is based on historical facts that can be apprehended by logical reasoning. Jesus came to ancient Judea in fulfillment of literally hundreds of Bible prophecies. Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel.
Christianity is the fulfillment and extension of biblical Judaism. Centuries before Jesus’ birth, Jewish prophets prophesied of His birth (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6), and foretold facts about His life, His ministry, His being betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12-13), His death by crucifixion, His death for our sins (Isaiah 53), and His resurrection. No religious figure beside Jesus in all history has anything like these credentials.
“I do maintain that Jews and all other people must turn to Jesus who died for the sins of all people. There is a growing number of Jews who believe that Jesus is the Messiah. They have received Jesus into their hearts and they follow Him as Lord and Savior. They call themselves ‘Messianic Jews’ and have established Messianic Synagogues in more than a dozen countries.”
The minister’s cheering section came alive with enthusiasm. The minister had answered the question well.