An Inconvenient Truth—in which is discussed the awkward religious conundrum regarding the bluntly exclusivist claims of Christianity

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

There are certain, rather unfortunate implications of Biblical Christianity. One is that our God died awhile back. (Reports have it that he didn’t stay dead, but you know how reliable some reports are.) A formerly dead God is better than none, I guess, but he’s always going to have that stigma attached to him. Another uncomfortable implication of the Biblical record is that we now have no excuse not to act like God. Some find this empowering (aka: the Holy Ghost people), but for religious realists this leads to a life of embarrassing missteps, relentless rationalization, and quiet resignation. And then there’s the whole “Go ye into all the world” thing, that Great Commiseration also known as evangelism which is perhaps the single biggest pain in the butt for believers who just want to mind their own freaking business (which is most of us).

But without a doubt the far and away, hands-down, number one most disturbing implication of Christianity is the in-your-face, over-the-top, fifty-megaton contention that our guy Jesus is the only one on the planet with the tickets to Godville. With one fell stroke, Christianity axes the religious aspirations of 4.5 billion people with different mascots. That’s right. Taking the Bible at face value would leave (at the moment anyway) 66% of the world’s population in the cold—er, make that, in the hot. And if the one-way rule holds true both backwards and forwards in time, then, out of the approximately 100 billion plus people who have ever lived on earth, over 66 billion of them are going to be at least moderately disappointed with their eternal destiny. It’s enough to make a progressive, culturally hip Christian burn with humiliation.

Yet there it is: a narrow road with cliffs on both sides—and, unless you’re a Biblical contortionist, it’s pretty dang hard to Mapquest yourself another route to the Emerald City. Jesus himself hurls the first categorical salvo: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s about as point-blank as a wannabe savior can get. Later his first-string followers also flash his exclusive rights to save the world. Saint John shoots nearly as straight as his boss: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Like it or not, this Gospel we’re stuck with is binary: you’re either in or you’re dead.

This means, of course, that according to undoctored Christianity all religions are definitely not created equal. The whole finding common ground mutual affirmation thing between diverse faiths so that we can together skip down the yellow brick road to salvation may be a nice idea, but it’s also total crap as far as the Bible is concerned. If Jesus is even halfway right (the votes are still coming in), then all other religions are premium passes to the pit. Islam is a steroid-pumped lie. Hinduism is a cesspool of superstition and ritual. Buddhism is nothing more than religious morphine for lost causes. Even Judaism, that holy headache of a heritage, is stuck in the fog bank of religious privilege. Granted, Christians, by and large, can be royal pains (which is often reason enough to burn them at the stake), but according to the Book they have the only lifeboat on a rapidly sinking ship. You may hate their guts, but if you don’t climb on the Jesus soul train, you’re history, bub. And pa-leeze don’t tell me this is merely a matter of scriptural interpretation. I know how to read, for God’s sake.

The cosmic ultimatum of Christianity is definitely problematic for savvy spiritual sophisticates who try their best to distance themselves from the Bible’s awkwardly narrow prescriptions. But I’m guessing that God probably wouldn’t have stapled his only kid to a pole just to offer the world yet another religious option. A dead Jesus means a one-shot redemption opportunity for us human spawn, and an undead Jesus means that he’s still around to direct traffic. There’s no getting around it: the Christian God is a hardcore nepotist. He also happens to hold all the cards.

So much for the theory of relativity.

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