How to answer tough questions

It's Intolerant to Tell People They're Going to Hell

Conversation Stopper

Many people take offense at the exclusivity of Christ. To tell people that their choice to reject Jesus has eternal consequences smacks in the face of a relativistic campus worldview. This however separates evangelical Christianity from universalism- following Jesus is not one of many paths to God, it is the only way into relationship with God. While this can be one of the most difficult areas of Christianity to talk about, the tone of the conversation is almost as important as the content of what is communicated about the exclusivity of Christ.

Assumptions

For students and schools that take issue with Christians proclaiming the exclusivity of Christ there is often an underlying assumption that it is based out of intolerance towards other religions. The negative images of sandwich board preachers on campus yelling at people that they’re going to hell is what many students or administrators assume how all Christians act and what they believe. Assumptions that Christians who believe in hell are ignorant, judgmental, and not thoughtful are what run through the minds of many when the issue of hell is brought up. In this sense Christians often aren’t on a level playing field with people that hold these caricatures to be true- Christians are close-minded, intolerant, etc. Dialogue and trust-building are essential especially with key people in the university setting that have the authority to prevent evangelical groups from meeting.

Talking Points

  • If the university does in fact have a climate of tolerance and respect than each student regardless of religious beliefs should be able to practice them in accordance with their religious tradition. To exclude Christians from the dialogue is in fact a violation of tolerance.
  • Invitation into a respectful disagreement. College is a place where people can learn to listen, be open and respectfully disagree with others. This should include students from evangelical Christian backgrounds to represent the fullness and diversity of beliefs within the university.
  • Invitation to a GIG- Exploring the teachings of Jesus for the person to see why our choices make a difference now and forever and why God cares about these choices.
  • We have reasons for believing what we believe. Christians don’t pick a faith that they think will anger others. We are convinced that God has revealed himself uniquely in history through Jesus. We seek to respectfully share our views and thoughtfully engage with others who have differing beliefs.
  • Everyone is excluding someone so there is no “inclusive position.” To say that all religions are basically the same is in essence imposing a “super-religion” on the beliefs of others. This is disrespectful to people of diverse faith backgrounds and is intolerant of the distinct differences.

Additional Resources

What are some ways that you have used to still love someone, but tell them something difficult that was the truth?

Share some helpful stories of you showed such love in a comment below.

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