Frequently Asked Questions
Why Should I Commit My Life to Jesus Christ?
There is no compulsion in being a Christian. The Christian message is a warm invitation, not a threat. It is God’s invitation for us to be part of his great purpose. He invites us to open our lives to his love. We need God in our lives. We need his love, his joy and his peace. We need his forgiveness and mercy. We need his wisdom and guidance as we try to live complicated and challenging lives. We open our lives to all the love and grace of God by following Jesus.
Is Christianity the Only True Way to God?
All religions have the same reference point – God. They also support certain basic moral values. Nevertheless, there are also very real points of difference between the world’s religions.
One point of view is to regard all religions as being equally wrong. This is the view of atheism, which regards the basic reference point of religion – God – to be false.
Another point of view acknowledges that God might exist, but maintains that there is no reason to believe that any one religion is closer to the truth than the others. This view, known as relativism, fails to accept the distinctive truth claims of any of the world’s religions, and it is itself a position of faith.
The adherents of the world’s various faiths would each claim that their particular faith is the truest path to God. Certainly, Christians would want to affirm that Jesus is unique as the incarnate Son of God. He is not merely a way to God, but the way. As he himself said:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Nevertheless, many Christian would be happy to affirm and learn from the good in other faiths, and accept the sincerity and spirituality of others who are seeking God. They believe it is possible to do this without denying the distinctive beliefs of their own faith.
Can a Person Achieve Salvation Apart From Explicit Faith in Jesus Christ?
This is a related question. If the answer is ‘no’ then vast numbers of humanity are precluded from salvation:
- those who lived before the time of Jesus
- those who die before reaching an age where they are capable of having faith in Jesus
- those who have learning difficulties so severe that they are incapable of responding in faith
- those who live in a culture where the opportunities to hear and engage with the Christian message are non-existent or severely limited
Christian theologians would, on the whole, want to give a more nuanced answer to that question, allowing for the possibility that a person may be capable of receiving God’s grace and ultimately being saved through Jesus Christ, without coming to explicit faith in him during their lifetime. This is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes the teaching of the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium:
§ 847 Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.
Such seekers will, it is argued, discover the true Author of their salvation in eternity.
Many Protestant theologians would broadly agree with this position, believing that:
God our Saviour… wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
What Church Should I Join?
Mainstream Christians are in broad agreement on the essentials of their faith. However, there are different styles and emphases within the Christian family, and differing views about secondary issues. No one church or denomination has a monopoly on the truth. The perfect church does not exist. We are not going to recommend a particular church or denomination here. However, we would suggest the following:
(1) Look for a church that is faithful to mainstream Christian teaching and accepts the Bible as the written Word of God.
(2) Look for lively worship and heartfelt, joyful faith. Avoid churches where people appear to be going through the motions without it really engaging their hearts and lives.
(3) Look for kindness and acceptance. Avoid a church where people are manipulative or where the leaders are domineering. Jesus said, “If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35)
Do You Have to Go to Church to Be a Christian?
It’s not about going to a building, or attending a meeting; it’s about belonging to a community. God has created us as communal beings. Jesus gathered a community of followers around him and said, “I will build my church”. If we want to follow Jesus authentically, we must travel on the journey of faith with a band of brothers and sisters. That’s the way he intended it to be.