It should be evident to anyone having only a passing familiarity with the New Testament that Joel Osteen is simply pretending not to know the answer to the rather direct question posed to him by Larry King. At least two inter-related motives (for his decision to feign ignorance) are rather obvious.
1. Joel is getting rich from book sales and is concerned that telling the truth about the exclusive truth claims of Christianity would result in a loss of income. It should go without saying that avoiding the truth results in a loss of souls for Christ. But Joel Osteen seems to care more about lost income than he does about lost souls.
2.Joel Osteen has a really big church and is concerned that telling the truth about the exclusive truth claims of Christianity would result in a loss of congregants. Of course, many pastors are overly concerned with the size of their churches. When they gather at conferences, “How big is your church?” is always the question most frequently asked by one pastor to another. And, of course, the bigger churches do tend to be the wealthier ones. It all goes back to the choice between lost souls and lost income.
Clearly, pastors who can’t figure out – or pretend to be unable to figure out - the clear meaning of John 14:6 will have some explaining to do when they reach the other side. Much is expected of those entrusted with the awesome responsibility of leading a church.
Perhaps less is expected of the nominal Christian who flippantly dismisses the exclusive truth claims of Christianity. But, regardless, he is wrong to do so for at least two reasons:
1. When people shy away from exclusive truth claims they reinforce a dangerous trend in our society; namely the spread of relativism as a moral philosophy. Nowadays, people so frequently utter the phrase “It’s true for you, but not for me” that the words “truth” and “belief” are seen as synonymous. They are not.
2. The moment a nominal Christian denies John 14:6 he becomes an ex-Christian. If a man says that many religions provide a path to salvation he is, in effect, saying that Jesus was not telling the truth when he said otherwise on numerous occasions. If Jesus was not telling the truth then he did not lead a sinless life. If Jesus was not telling the truth he could not be God or even a “great moral leader” as some prefer to call Him.
There is a powerful tendency these days for men to want to appear to be, above all things, tolerant. But G.K. Chesterton said it best when he said that tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions. It might also be said that tolerance is the virtue of a man without salvation. Every man must choose between Truth and tolerance. He cannot choose both and expect to dine at the Great Supper.