Is Jesus unique?

How does Jesus compare to the founders of other religions? Is Jesus Christ unique with reference to Muhammad, Buddha, or whomever? I believe we want to be in dialogue with people of all faiths, listen to them, learn from them. There’s no reason a Christian needs to be afraid or hesitant to do that. The Christian should recognize the fact that there is truth and ethical wisdom in all cultures.

If it’s true that the carpenter from Nazareth was alive on the third day—that the tomb was empty—and if that strongly confirms his claim to be the only Son of God, God in the flesh, then Jesus’ own statements about who he is are very important. So when Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me,” (John 14: 5-7) then we have to take that very seriously.

Jesus as unique

This is not an imperialistic kind of claim. If we look at the way Jesus claimed it: not as a king, not as top of the heap, but as someone who serves others, loves enemies, cares about all people, and becomes a slave to them [in terms of caring for their needs and serving them no matter who they are or what their religious beliefs are], then that is not a shovel-it-down-your-throat kind of claim.

In the midst of today’s incredible diversity and pluralism, there are Muslims, Buddhists, New Agers, secularists, and people who claim not to believe in anything. Again, look at this Jesus. He’s beautiful, powerful, and claims to be able to bring together black and white, rich and poor, men and women. He claims to be able to break down the barriers that are destroying us in our world: the ethnic conflicts, the clash between men and women, and the incredible division between rich and poor. He claims to do that at his cross and because of his resurrection. Examine his claims. I think they’re true. I think he is the one way to the eternal God.

By Ron Sider – Adapted from a video interview for Turning Toward Jesus video curriculum. Sider is a professor of theology  from Philadelphia, Pa.

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