Recently I was reminded "that secular society is quite happy to accept Jesus as a prophet but not as God!"
Those who advocate such an increasingly popular position argue that (1) supracultural truth cannot be founded on historical events or persons and (2) claims about the superiority of Jesus are merely echoes of western imperialism that undergird the Christian missionary movement.
These charges call for a response, a response that neither promotes human alienation nor ignores the religious awareness of others.
What is the nature of the exclusive claims for Christ? They affirm that God has acted decisively in history. Jesus is presented as the One anointed to redeem the world. His claims are vindicated by the empty tomb. The kingdom of heaven has invaded the history of man.
Of those who say that the infinite cannot be expressed in the finite, we ask: "What is the logical conclusion to your assumptions about history?"
The Christian claims of the incarnation of God in history, of the revelation of God through history, give a significance to the here and now. There is good reason for the masses to believe that heaven cares about their poverty and unemployment. There is good reason to believe that suffering and death are not a fate to be accepted but an evil to be overcome. There is good reason to be considerate of our fellowman. There is good reason to give those whom society has demeaned and excluded an invitation to become children of God.
The challenge of the exclusive claims of Jesus lies not in the selfish interests of any religious group wanting to defeat the secular minded by debate in the marketplace of religion. Instead, it is the challenge to set forth another person or ideal or discipline that enables genuine change in the self perception and behavior of people, that gives value and dignity to life in the here and now as well as grace and hope for the hereafter.
Can we imagine how the present world would be if the incarnate God had never entered history? Can we imagine the changes that would occur if the world were to hear that He has come and that He is coming again?