top of page

The Pluralism Problem: Why is Jesus the Only Way? Did Jesus Die for Nothing? (Bonus Section)

SERIES INFO: This series of blog articles will include topics (and bonus sections) I couldn't fit into my book Reintroducing Jesus: Uncovering Jesus of Nazareth in the Misinformation Age.


In the chapter "Spiritual But Not Religious" in my book Reintroducing Jesus, I lay out why Jesus and the first followers of Jesus were not pluralistic; this is, I explained why a Christian cannot believe there are more than one way to God and salvation. Jesus is the only way because his is the only person to ever be both God and human.

If the idea that the savior of humanity must be fully human and fully God is all too theologically heavy, let me sum it up in a digestible, delicious ice cream cookie sandwich.

The Three Natures Argument is a K.I.S.S. way to understand or explain this idea. “K.I.S.S.” stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. Since some of you reading this are proper Christians, we’ll change it to Keep It Simple, Silly-head. The Three Natures Argument goes like this:

Based on the teachings of the Bible, Jesus is the one-and-only savior because of three things:

  1. The Nature of God.

  2. The Nature of man.

  3. The Nature of the God-man.

(1) When we speak of the nature of God, we are speaking of his attributes, characteristics, and qualities. Part of God’s nature is that he is perfectly good, righteous, and holy. Because of this, God is also perfectly just. Because he’s just, he can’t simply overlook the wrongdoings we’ve all done. Justice must be carried out.

(2) The nature of man (that is, humankind—both male and female) is marred by sin. We all miss the mark, and we’re all drenched in shame. Though all people are made in God’s image and God created all things good (Genesis 1:27–31), sin has corrupted God’s good creation and every one of us falls short of glorifying God with our lives; the result is death (Romans 3:23, 6:23). We’re separated from our perfectly good and righteous Creator because we are unholy. The wrongs of humanity must be accounted for.

(3) The nature of the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth, is completely God and completely human. This God-man lived a perfect life that none of us can and died a death he didn’t deserve. As fully human, he can represent humankind. As fully God, his sacrifice can cover all of humankind for all of time. Jesus is the only person to ever be uniquely fully God and fully human.

Therefore, if all that the Bible says is true about the nature of God, man, and the God-man, Christianity must be exclusive. The exclusive gift of salvation could only be won by the exclusive God-man.


In addition, there is yet another big problem with pluralism if the Bible is true.

Jesus died a horribly brutal death on a Roman cross for the sake of all those who would trust in him to be saved from their sin and shame. Jesus did this willingly, yet also prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest and crucifixion, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). In biblical terms, the “cup” Jesus refers to is God’s wrath, God’s justice. God the Son went willingly to the cross, but he also was well aware of the high price he would pay to complete his mission. In Gethsemane, he asks God the Father to spare him from the brutality of the cross if there were any other way to win salvation for humanity.

But there was no other way, so he went to his death willingly.

Jesus of Nazareth was tortured. The flesh was ripped from his back by metal shards woven into a Roman whip. Then, with that same shredded body, he carried his cross toward the place of his death until he could no longer. Spikes were driven through his arms and feet—spikes that held the weight of his body up as the cross was set upright. Then, his slow death began. Hanging naked by his outstretched arms in the desert sun, shocks of pain shot through his shoulders as they likely dislocated. Finally—perhaps going into shock due to blood loss; perhaps his heart giving out—he breathed his last.

Here’s the thing: if salvation could be won by any other means, then Jesus didn’t have to go through all that. If there were any other way—even one—to accomplish salvation from sin, Jesus died for nothing. In other words, if there were a Plan B for saving the world from sin other than Jesus dying on the cross, Jesus would not have died on the cross. He would’ve said, “Let’s go with Plan B.” And if Jesus’ death on the cross were Plan B, he would’ve said, “Plan A works just fine.”

We also have this issue: if there were any other way for God to reconnect with his created people and overlook their sins, and Jesus still died on the cross, then Jesus’ death was needless brutality. In other words, if God knew forgiveness of sins could be achieved through humans simply following some rules or completing some rituals or being “a good person” or doing X, Y, and Z, why would God the Son need to become a man and die?

If pluralism is true, then both God the Father and God the Son made extremely foolish decisions to allow an act of absolute brutality for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Is Jesus a pluralist? No, or else he wouldn’t have gone to the cross.


bottom of page