What is your notion of Christian exclusivity?

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O'Darby

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Christian exclusivity is the core doctrine that only Christians will be saved. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6, NKJV.

The common understanding is that non-Christians are destined for eternity in hell. Is this your understanding - i.e., all Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, atheists and other non-Christians are destined for hell? Considering the widely different circumstances of people across the globe - the widely different odds of them ever hearing about Jesus in a meaningful way or turning to Him even if they do - I find this difficult if not impossible to believe.

William Lane Craig has suggested that perhaps God has "arranged things" so that those He foreknew would turn to Christ are geographically located so they will hear and respond. A kid born into a Southern Baptist family in the Bible belt and a kid born into a low-caste Hindu family in New Delhi are where they are because God foreknew the former would respond to Jesus and the latter would not. Not very convincing, at least to me.

Calvinism has less of a problem with this issue, it seems to me. All humans are depraved and deserving of hell, God's predestined elect will be saved no matter where they are because this is what God has decreed, and those who aren't saved simply weren't among the elect. All fairly neat and tidy, although perhaps not much different from what Craig suggests.

Universalism has less problem as well. All will eventually be saved, even if it takes eons in hell before some of them turn to God. Exclusivity ultimately isn't exclusive at all!

Another approach that occurred to me is that perhaps "No one comes to the Father except through me" means something different from Christian exclusivity as commonly understood. Perhaps it means Jesus is the gatekeeper - He decides who is saved, but this could include Hindis, Buddhists or anyone else. I recall Billy Graham once causing a furor by suggesting there might be "secret Christians" who didn't even know they were.

After reading a large mountain of theology and apologetics over the decades, I really don't have a satisfactory answer. (Yes, I know, God's ways are not my ways and don't have to make sense to me.)

Some 54 years ago, when I was almost a newbie, the Campus Crusade staff member at our university asked me to fill in for him one night. A girl named Sherry asked, "Do we really think all Buddhists are going to hell?" I responded, "We have to believe and trust that God will deal with Buddhists in a way worthy of who we believe Him to be." I don't think I have a better answer now. Yes, it is kind of punting on the issue - chalking it up to a divine mystery - but I find this more satisfactory than pretending I really believe God is condemning vast swaths of humanity to eternal torment in hell. (Actually, I do the same with the doctrine of hell - whatever hell is, we will see how it is worthy of the God in whom we believe.)

(The next day, the staff member smilingly said "Hey, I don't know what you told Sherry, but it really helped her!" I told him what I'd told her. "Great answer!" he said. "Of course, they ARE all going to hell." I knew then that I probably wasn't Crusade staff material.)

How do you make peace with the doctrine of exclusivity? Or perhaps it doesn't trouble you at all?
 

Lambano

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Another approach that occurred to me is that perhaps "No one comes to the Father except through me" means something different from Christian exclusivity as commonly understood. Perhaps it means Jesus is the gatekeeper - He decides who is saved, but this could include Hindis, Buddhists or anyone else
A couple of years ago, I aroused the ire of many on this board for speculating that the Parable of the Sheep and Goats MAY mean that Jesus MAY allow into His kingdom those who have shown compassion to those He considers to be His brothers and sisters ("Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these My brothers and sisters, you have done it to Me", Matthew 25:40), regardless of whether they acknowledged Him as Lord during their lifetime. (I was thinking of speaking up for a Jewish family and a couple of Muslim families who brought my family food when we needed it and who took me into their homes when I was a stranger in a strange land.)

Yes, it violates sola fide, but not sola Christus. The key principle is that Christ IS Lord (does anyone want to contend that?), Christ is sovereign over His Kingdom, and Christ can let into His kingdom anyone He bloody well pleases. If anyone wants to tell Him, "Lord, you can't do that!", you go right ahead.
 

Randy Kluth

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Christian exclusivity is the core doctrine that only Christians will be saved. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6, NKJV.
It's a great question, and obviously some people simply don't find a need to answer the question--they just wish to share the Gospel and hope people respond. Accepting Christ guarantees eternal life. What others on the other side of the world don't know is beyond my reach regardless.

But I have asked the question, and I'm no newbie. I've gotten more tolerant down through the years, but insist that I'm not compromising the truth. God has indeed predetermined the full number of His children, whether they decide to be obedient or not. I'm somewhat Calvinist.

But I'm also a free will advocate, which is somewhat contradictory to Calvinism. I believe God is not responsible for those who choose not to do what would be consistent with being children of God. They are not drawn to the Father due to the fact the foundation of their birth is based on independent thinking and rejection of God's control. They appear to have been "born on the wrong side of the tracks," and I don't think God can be blamed for that?

Since being predetermined to be a child of God does not necessitate one hearing the Gospel, the message of Salvation and "being Saved" are two distinct things. The message of Salvation is designed to give one *assurance* of his Salvation, as well as to reflect the glory of God in a person's life. One may get Saved in their ignorance and paganism because they "know not what they're doing." They may actually have a longing for truth and for Salvation itself without knowing what that entails.

The Scriptures indicate people will be judged by what they do, whether they are Christians or not. This implies that all have a conscience, even if they don't have a full knowledge of the truth. God understands temptation, upbringing, circumstances, and ignorance. Many will be Saved who are in other religions and who do great wrong. What God will judge them by is by their expressed wish to embrace truth and justice in some way, no matter how limited it appears to us.
 

O'Darby

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I live in a very rural area. When I work out or putter around in the garage, the only radio station that comes in clearly is American Family Radio, which apparently has a transmitter on a tower right behind my house. Numerous programs, and one Saturday morning one in particular, are hosted by characters who are so smugly confident about who is saved and who is not that it's almost breathtaking. Not only is every last non-Christian destined for eternal torment in hell, but so are about 85% of those who think they are good Christians - not just Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses by any means, but huge swaths of what many people would regard as mainstream Christianity. Being saved is almost entirely a matter of slavish, one-dimensional Bibliolatry. 98% of these programs are focused on the defects in other understandings of Christianity. The recent Alistair Begg kerfuffle was worth two separate hours of wringing our hands over what a lost soul poor Begg has become. The notion of billions and billions of people spending eternity in hell, far from being highly problematical and troubling, seems to strike these folks as almost appealing. Increasingly, I've reached the point where I just turn off the radio after a few minutes.

I was struck by an atheist's review on Amazon of a really serious work of systematic theology that I had also read and enjoyed. The atheist wrote: "I read and understood this, just as I have read and understood large amounts of Christian theology and apologetics. And yet I remain an atheist. I can't make myself believe things that I am simply constitutionally incapable of believing." I appreciated the honesty.

I believe Christianity is essentially true in broad terms. I believe it captures essential truths about reality and human nature. And yet, I suspect that we - meaning all Christians - are missing or misinterpreting really essential aspects as to "how it works." I suspect that most of the pissing contests between cocksure Christians on forums such as this are between cocksure people who are largely clueless and will end up being very surprised. I don't pretend to be cocksure anymore, nor do I pretend to believe, or try to will myself into believing, things that I am constitutionally incapable of believing. I am simply incapable of believing that avoiding eternity in hell is a matter of believing exactly the right things or that the vast majority of people who ever lived are destined for torment. COULD that be true? SURE - but I am constitutionally incapable of believing it. So I make my peace by attempting to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling and punt to the default position that we will see in the end how all is worthy of the God in whom we trust.

On every forum on which I've ever participated, I've started a thread along the lines of "Give us your absolute bottom-line Christian essentials." It never goes well, so I probably won't start it here. But I often wonder if those essentials are really anything more than (1) recognizing you are a God-created being in a God-created universe; (2) recognizing you will be answerable to this God for your life; (3) recognizing your eternal fate is in the hands of this God and completely dependent on his mercy; and (4) sincerely attempting to lead a life according to the moral precepts that virtually all religions teach. Would this be enough for Jesus? I don't know, but I suspect it might. The Jesus of the gospels - the Synoptics, anyway, which are surely more historically accurate than John - certainly seems to me to place greater emphasis on "how you live" than "what you believe."
 

amadeus

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Christian exclusivity is the core doctrine that only Christians will be saved. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6, NKJV.

The common understanding is that non-Christians are destined for eternity in hell. Is this your understanding - i.e., all Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, atheists and other non-Christians are destined for hell? Considering the widely different circumstances of people across the globe - the widely different odds of them ever hearing about Jesus in a meaningful way or turning to Him even if they do - I find this difficult if not impossible to believe.

William Lane Craig has suggested that perhaps God has "arranged things" so that those He foreknew would turn to Christ are geographically located so they will hear and respond. A kid born into a Southern Baptist family in the Bible belt and a kid born into a low-caste Hindu family in New Delhi are where they are because God foreknew the former would respond to Jesus and the latter would not. Not very convincing, at least to me.

Calvinism has less of a problem with this issue, it seems to me. All humans are depraved and deserving of hell, God's predestined elect will be saved no matter where they are because this is what God has decreed, and those who aren't saved simply weren't among the elect. All fairly neat and tidy, although perhaps not much different from what Craig suggests.

Universalism has less problem as well. All will eventually be saved, even if it takes eons in hell before some of them turn to God. Exclusivity ultimately isn't exclusive at all!

Another approach that occurred to me is that perhaps "No one comes to the Father except through me" means something different from Christian exclusivity as commonly understood. Perhaps it means Jesus is the gatekeeper - He decides who is saved, but this could include Hindis, Buddhists or anyone else. I recall Billy Graham once causing a furor by suggesting there might be "secret Christians" who didn't even know they were.

After reading a large mountain of theology and apologetics over the decades, I really don't have a satisfactory answer. (Yes, I know, God's ways are not my ways and don't have to make sense to me.)

Some 54 years ago, when I was almost a newbie, the Campus Crusade staff member at our university asked me to fill in for him one night. A girl named Sherry asked, "Do we really think all Buddhists are going to hell?" I responded, "We have to believe and trust that God will deal with Buddhists in a way worthy of who we believe Him to be." I don't think I have a better answer now. Yes, it is kind of punting on the issue - chalking it up to a divine mystery - but I find this more satisfactory than pretending I really believe God is condemning vast swaths of humanity to eternal torment in hell. (Actually, I do the same with the doctrine of hell - whatever hell is, we will see how it is worthy of the God in whom we believe.)

(The next day, the staff member smilingly said "Hey, I don't know what you told Sherry, but it really helped her!" I told him what I'd told her. "Great answer!" he said. "Of course, they ARE all going to hell." I knew then that I probably wasn't Crusade staff material.)

How do you make peace with the doctrine of exclusivity? Or perhaps it doesn't trouble you at all?
My answer to your basic question for me is found here:

Lu 12:48But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
"...much is given...much required..."

What is it that each person does with all that God has or has not given to him? If he was born materially rich or poor; if he was born in the lowest class of what we call a third world country; if he was born to good Christian parents; if he grew up under atheistic parents; and so forth; and so then will God not judge based on the have or the have not? Will He not supply according to the heart's needs when they are directed at Him?

Will one among the "have nots" seek something better? Will God not see the hungry heart and feed it accordingly?

Mt 5:6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Cannot a child born in a place where there is little or no Christianity or Bibles available and yet be hungry and thirsty after righteousness? Were not Jesus' words directed to that child as well as to those living with a Christian parent or close Christian neighbor? Is God not seeing everything in every heart in every situation? Will God not provide what is needed?
 
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Randy Kluth

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On every forum on which I've ever participated, I've started a thread along the lines of "Give us your absolute bottom-line Christian essentials." It never goes well, so I probably won't start it here. But I often wonder if those essentials are really anything more than (1) recognizing you are a God-created being in a God-created universe; (2) recognizing you will be answerable to this God for your life; (3) recognizing your eternal fate is in the hands of this God and completely dependent on his mercy; and (4) sincerely attempting to lead a life according to the moral precepts that virtually all religions teach. Would this be enough for Jesus? I don't know, but I suspect it might. The Jesus of the gospels - the Synoptics, anyway, which are surely more historically accurate than John - certainly seems to me to place greater emphasis on "how you live" than "what you believe."
The question, for me, is not just whether we'll make it to Heaven, though that is in itself critically important. But also important is living the Saved life.

I personally believe people throughout history, in other lands, and in other religions, will find a place "in Heaven." They will be judged on what they know, and not on what they don't know. They will make a choice in their conscience, even if they lack tools to live a Saved life.

But unless they know and understand the "Saved lifestyle," they will not exhibit what "making Heaven" is all about. They will not know that living in Heaven means being like God and knowing Him personally. And God wants all men to know this so that they can begin living this way now, and not just in the future.

The reason for a Saved life is not just to "get to Heaven." It is to bring glory to God, representing in our Saved lives what Christian Salvation means for mankind.

To be completely delivered from self-interest, from self-autonomy, we need to be regenerated by the word of God. And that only comes when we are offered a covenant relationship with God, premised upon a full commitment to His word.

If we are to do that we of course must have this option offered to us. That doesn't happen for all people, and God certainly notes that. We are commissioned with the Gospel message precisely so that more people can understand that they have this option. It is tragic that not all people have heard the Gospel message.

So we may talk about who may "make it to Heaven." And this is certainly vital. However, we should not neglect the importance of living regenerated lives, to make clear to the world what true righteous living is, which is not just "making it to Heaven," but much more, living with God and being like Him. We can live this now, and not just 'make Heaven."
 

Davy

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Christian exclusivity is the core doctrine that only Christians will be saved. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6, NKJV.
....
The 'idea' of Christianity can be summed up this way...

Christianity is not a religion, but is the Truth.

All the religions of this world are creations by men. That is why Christianity in reality is not a religion. And the term 'Christianity' refers to the Biblical word 'Christian', which means a follower and believer on Jesus Christ.
 
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Randy Kluth

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The 'idea' of Christianity can be summed up this way...

Christianity is not a religion, but is the Truth.

All the religions of this world are creations by men. That is why Christianity in reality is not a religion. And the term 'Christianity' refers to the Biblical word 'Christian', which means a follower and believer on Jesus Christ.
But Christianity is still a "religion," even if it is the "true religion." And although you're right that a "Christian" is someone who follows Christ, there are those who begin by following Christ and end by not following him.

So the question is, Will people be saved who don't know the truths of Christianity because they were never adequately told? They certainly won't have the spiritual life of a Christian now, not being one. But can they obtain Eternal Life after death when Christ returns? I believe that was the question.

There are people who begin as Christians but end as pagans. Most of these will not be saved, in my opinion. On the other hand, some who have lived their lives as pagans, may soften over the course of their lives and would receive Christ if given the opportunity. I don't think God will hold it against people if nobody properly tells them.
 

Aunty Jane

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Christian exclusivity is the core doctrine that only Christians will be saved. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6, NKJV.
To me, the majority of humans who have ever lived were probably not Christians, but by no means are they forgotten by God simply because they lived at a time or in a geographical location where Jesus and his Father were never mentioned.
Those saved at the end of this age, will definitely be those who not only accepted Jesus as the Christ, but also accepted that Yahweh was his Father. (1 Cor 8:5-6; John 17:3)

It is true that ‘no one can come to the Father except through the son’....but ‘no one can come to the son without an invitation from his Father’.....(John 6:44, 65)

As the majority of mankind are in their graves awaiting the promised resurrection, only those chosen to rule with Christ are resurrected “first”. (Rev 20:6; John 5:28-29)

Since there is no immortal soul to torment in any kind of “hell”, there never was a choice between going to one place or the other after death....the Bible does not teach that...the church does.

The Bible is clear that when we die, we go to “sheol” which the Jewish Tanakh translates as “the grave”...we all go to this “hell”. (Eccl 9:5, 10) There is no conscious existence in that place...there no ability to think, plan or to carry on any activity in sheol ......the dead “sleep”.

Read John 11:11-14 and see where Lazarus was before Jesus raised him.....

The common understanding is that non-Christians are destined for eternity in hell. Is this your understanding - i.e., all Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, atheists and other non-Christians are destined for hell?
The Bible speaks about these ones and how God judges them....
Romans 2:14-16...
“For when people of the nations, who do not have law, do by nature the things of the law, these people, although not having law, are a law to themselves. 15 They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them, and by their own thoughts they are being accused or even excused. 16 This will take place in the day when God through Christ Jesus judges the secret things of mankind, according to the good news I declare.”

So yes, Christians who qualify for life by their obedience to Christ’s teachings, will be granted everlasting life.....but for those ignorant of the Bible’s teachings through no fault on their part, perhaps a living in remote places on our planet, or through circumstances not able to access knowledge of God or his word.
It appears that Paul has them covered in the scripture quoted above.

I often wonder if those essentials are really anything more than (1) recognizing you are a God-created being in a God-created universe; (2) recognizing you will be answerable to this God for your life; (3) recognizing your eternal fate is in the hands of this God and completely dependent on his mercy; and (4) sincerely attempting to lead a life according to the moral precepts that virtually all religions teach. Would this be enough for Jesus?
I believe so, but I also believe that the disunited rabble that is Christendom is not the Christianity that Jesus and his apostles started in the first century....an apostasy was foretold and an apostasy took place as history attests.
We are definitely answerable to the God who sent Jesus to secure our salvation, but we all have to be on the same page. (1 Cor 1:10) We cannot be out of harmony with each other all believing different things.

We are answerable to God for all that we do as imitators of Christ....and our everlasting future is dependant upon our obedience to God in all things. God is merciful, but his mercy is administered without sentiment....God’s justice is pure and will not be withheld when justice is demanded.

Our sincere attempts to serve and worship the God of the Bible will be rewarded but not if we are teaching or accepting of things that are clearly identified as against the principles outlined in God’s word.

We cannot be followers of Christ if we do not accept all that he taught as gospel truth, and imitate his personality and demeanour.
As an example....if Jesus taught us to be “no part of the world” as he was “no part of the world” (John 17:16) what does this mean in real terms? We are “in the world” and we have no say about that....but how can we be “no part” of it? We must imitate Jesus who did not ever teach rebellion against the Roman government under which his people were in subjection, even though they were worshippers of pagan gods and responsible for much bloodshed. He did not meddle with Roman rule but kept the law of God as well as the law under which Israel was subjected. (Romans 13:1-4)

We see that the Jews generally were quite content with their place under Roman jurisdiction even though they did not have rights under Roman Law. There was a rebellious element who wanted to overthrow the Roman government but Jesus was no part of that. Today he expects his disciples to also be no part of the political world with its conflicts and bloodshed. No true Christin can join the military and train to kill enemies of his nation....as they have no sanction from God to do that. (Rom 12:17-21; Matt 5:43-44)

I don't know, but I suspect it might. The Jesus of the gospels - the Synoptics, anyway, which are surely more historically accurate than John - certainly seems to me to place greater emphasis on "how you live" than "what you believe."
Yes....that is true...but what you believe has a bearing on how you live.
 
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Scott Downey

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John 6 has the answers to these questions.
And it shows the purpose and power of God regarding whom he saves, our salvation is not arbitrary...we are chosen for salvation by God who gives us to Christ as His children (brothers)
v29 really starts to tell us the truth of our becoming saved. That we believe in Christ is the work of God in our life.
My take is God never fails to save those He has begun his work in.
The whole chapter is good to study.

*****************************************************

26 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

28 Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

30 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ”

32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”

35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will [f]by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Rejected by His Own​

41 The Jews then [g]complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, [h]“Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who [i]has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes [j]in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”

53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is [k]food indeed, and My blood is [l]drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

Many Disciples Turn Away​

60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a [m]hard saying; who can understand it?”

61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples [n]complained about this, He said to them, “Does this [o]offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

66 From that time many of His disciples went [p]back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the [q]Christ, the Son of the living God.”

70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.
 
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Scott Downey

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Hebrews 2 shows us again how exclusive salvation really is.
That God gives to Christ his children (believers)
God testifies all souls are mine and the soul that sins shall die, and all have sinned, so they are all God's to do with as He chooses.

John 17:6 “I have [c]manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

Christ only helps to salvation the children God has given Him. Also known as the 'seed of Abraham', which is not just Jews, but as in Isaac your seed shall be the called, refers to what Paul describes as the election, and this according to the promise God made to Abraham that Abraham would have a son. And we are as Isaac was a child of the promise God made. God gave to Abraham Isaac as a promised child, and God gives to Christ us as promised children so that we are the family of God. And God saves His family.

Christ is the Great Shepherd of the Sheep, so Christ makes intercession and propitiation to God only for the sheep and does not pray for the world.

Hebrews 13:20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

John 17: 9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.

Romans 9:11
(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),

Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any (OF US) should perish but that all should come to repentance.
*************************************************************************
Peter here is still exclusively speaking of the beloved elect, not the unbelieving world, 'US' are those of the group to which the letter is written.
Paul in Galatians says the bondswoman and her son shall not inherit the kingdom of God, only those who are born of the Spirit inherit eternal life.

Since these children God gave to Christ are flesh and blood, Christ partook of the same nature in order to save the children of God that God gave to Christ, Christ saves all of them as God's will is none of them be lost, but that all of these children come to salvation, and not any others are saved, no children of the devil are saved.

Hebrews 2
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who [g]sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying:

“I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”
13 And again:

“I will put My trust in Him.”
And again:

“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not [h]give aid to angels, but He does [i]give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being [j]tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
 

Nancy

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A couple of years ago, I aroused the ire of many on this board for speculating that the Parable of the Sheep and Goats MAY mean that Jesus MAY allow into His kingdom those who have shown compassion to those He considers to be His brothers and sisters ("Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these My brothers and sisters, you have done it to Me", Matthew 25:40), regardless of whether they acknowledged Him as Lord during their lifetime. (I was thinking of speaking up for a Jewish family and a couple of Muslim families who brought my family food when we needed it and who took me into their homes when I was a stranger in a strange land.)

Yes, it violates sola fide, but not sola Christus. The key principle is that Christ IS Lord (does anyone want to contend that?), Christ is sovereign over His Kingdom, and Christ can let into His kingdom anyone He bloody well pleases. If anyone wants to tell Him, "Lord, you can't do that!", you go right ahead.
Amen brother, perhaps this is why we as Christians, are not to judge those "without."

1 Cor. 5:12
"What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?"
 

Scott Downey

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There is no salvation for what we call good people who do good works who do not believe in Christ.
It is just facts, not us judging them. God will judge them unworthy of eternal life as they do not believe in His Son.
You read that all over the New Testament.

v 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of [c]God which He has testified of His Son
v10 'he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.'

Now you might think that a HARSH judgment of God, do you? I don't think so, it is just the truth.


We are told we must worship God in spirit and in truth.
Example in I John 5

1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—[a]our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

The Certainty of God’s Witness​

6 This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear witness [b]in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.

9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of [c]God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.

11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has [d]life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, [e]and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
 
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Scott Downey

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More exclusivity here. If you don't believe in Christ, they you do not have righteousness imputed to your account with God.
He will see you as an unforgiven sinner and you're going to hell. Cause you did not believe the testimony He gave of His Son; you rejected the salvation freely offered to all simply by believing. What a disaster awaits for those who lose their own soul.

Acts 17
30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
 

Scott Downey

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Scripture is the only sure foundation we have for knowing who is saved
Everything else is speculation. While it may make you feel good, know that it is not based in reality.

I have no issue with infants going to heaven as I believe God is able to reveal to them who Christ is and they can believe without them telling us anything that we would recognize as their faith.

One thing about Calvinist thinking is that God is the one who makes us born again before we believe. And this then allows for infants-young children, or even totally incapacitated people to be saved. Just leave it in God's hands.
 

Bob

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Christian exclusivity is the core doctrine that only Christians will be saved. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6, NKJV.

The common understanding is that non-Christians are destined for eternity in hell. Is this your understanding - i.e., all Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, atheists and other non-Christians are destined for hell? Considering the widely different circumstances of people across the globe - the widely different odds of them ever hearing about Jesus in a meaningful way or turning to Him even if they do - I find this difficult if not impossible to believe.

William Lane Craig has suggested that perhaps God has "arranged things" so that those He foreknew would turn to Christ are geographically located so they will hear and respond. A kid born into a Southern Baptist family in the Bible belt and a kid born into a low-caste Hindu family in New Delhi are where they are because God foreknew the former would respond to Jesus and the latter would not. Not very convincing, at least to me.

Calvinism has less of a problem with this issue, it seems to me. All humans are depraved and deserving of hell, God's predestined elect will be saved no matter where they are because this is what God has decreed, and those who aren't saved simply weren't among the elect. All fairly neat and tidy, although perhaps not much different from what Craig suggests.

Universalism has less problem as well. All will eventually be saved, even if it takes eons in hell before some of them turn to God. Exclusivity ultimately isn't exclusive at all!

Another approach that occurred to me is that perhaps "No one comes to the Father except through me" means something different from Christian exclusivity as commonly understood. Perhaps it means Jesus is the gatekeeper - He decides who is saved, but this could include Hindis, Buddhists or anyone else. I recall Billy Graham once causing a furor by suggesting there might be "secret Christians" who didn't even know they were.

After reading a large mountain of theology and apologetics over the decades, I really don't have a satisfactory answer. (Yes, I know, God's ways are not my ways and don't have to make sense to me.)

Some 54 years ago, when I was almost a newbie, the Campus Crusade staff member at our university asked me to fill in for him one night. A girl named Sherry asked, "Do we really think all Buddhists are going to hell?" I responded, "We have to believe and trust that God will deal with Buddhists in a way worthy of who we believe Him to be." I don't think I have a better answer now. Yes, it is kind of punting on the issue - chalking it up to a divine mystery - but I find this more satisfactory than pretending I really believe God is condemning vast swaths of humanity to eternal torment in hell. (Actually, I do the same with the doctrine of hell - whatever hell is, we will see how it is worthy of the God in whom we believe.)

(The next day, the staff member smilingly said "Hey, I don't know what you told Sherry, but it really helped her!" I told him what I'd told her. "Great answer!" he said. "Of course, they ARE all going to hell." I knew then that I probably wasn't Crusade staff material.)

How do you make peace with the doctrine of exclusivity? Or perhaps it doesn't trouble you at all?
Thank you for your thoughtful post.

Suppose we rephrase the question slightly.

Is the promise of salvation the only reason to choose Christianity over other religions?

Here are some examples why Christianity is still the best of religions:

Prison Ministry! (Matthew 25: 35-36). Christianity is about giving hope to all, even those that consider their plight at a dead end.

Not just obedient, but joyfully obedient. If you truly love God, going through the motions (church, charity, . . .) will not do at all! (1 Corinthians 13: 1-13).

Forgiveness of others: we will hold no grudge, bear no ill will, let go of hate an animosity, even for those who would destroy us.

Grace: God will always be searching for you when you are lost, and will forgive those who sincerely repent.

Anything missing?

Peace.
 
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Mr E

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Christian exclusivity is the core doctrine that only Christians will be saved. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6, NKJV.

The common understanding is that non-Christians are destined for eternity in hell. Is this your understanding - i.e., all Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, atheists and other non-Christians are destined for hell? Considering the widely different circumstances of people across the globe - the widely different odds of them ever hearing about Jesus in a meaningful way or turning to Him even if they do - I find this difficult if not impossible to believe.

William Lane Craig has suggested that perhaps God has "arranged things" so that those He foreknew would turn to Christ are geographically located so they will hear and respond. A kid born into a Southern Baptist family in the Bible belt and a kid born into a low-caste Hindu family in New Delhi are where they are because God foreknew the former would respond to Jesus and the latter would not. Not very convincing, at least to me.

Calvinism has less of a problem with this issue, it seems to me. All humans are depraved and deserving of hell, God's predestined elect will be saved no matter where they are because this is what God has decreed, and those who aren't saved simply weren't among the elect. All fairly neat and tidy, although perhaps not much different from what Craig suggests.

Universalism has less problem as well. All will eventually be saved, even if it takes eons in hell before some of them turn to God. Exclusivity ultimately isn't exclusive at all!

Another approach that occurred to me is that perhaps "No one comes to the Father except through me" means something different from Christian exclusivity as commonly understood. Perhaps it means Jesus is the gatekeeper - He decides who is saved, but this could include Hindis, Buddhists or anyone else. I recall Billy Graham once causing a furor by suggesting there might be "secret Christians" who didn't even know they were.

After reading a large mountain of theology and apologetics over the decades, I really don't have a satisfactory answer. (Yes, I know, God's ways are not my ways and don't have to make sense to me.)

Some 54 years ago, when I was almost a newbie, the Campus Crusade staff member at our university asked me to fill in for him one night. A girl named Sherry asked, "Do we really think all Buddhists are going to hell?" I responded, "We have to believe and trust that God will deal with Buddhists in a way worthy of who we believe Him to be." I don't think I have a better answer now. Yes, it is kind of punting on the issue - chalking it up to a divine mystery - but I find this more satisfactory than pretending I really believe God is condemning vast swaths of humanity to eternal torment in hell. (Actually, I do the same with the doctrine of hell - whatever hell is, we will see how it is worthy of the God in whom we believe.)

(The next day, the staff member smilingly said "Hey, I don't know what you told Sherry, but it really helped her!" I told him what I'd told her. "Great answer!" he said. "Of course, they ARE all going to hell." I knew then that I probably wasn't Crusade staff material.)

How do you make peace with the doctrine of exclusivity? Or perhaps it doesn't trouble you at all?

Glad you found your way here O'Darby Runner!

Many folks trade their Christian identity for some sort of Club Membership. This is true of Muslims and Jews as well of course, but there is a difference between identifying with one of these three broad classifications and being dogmatic. I find that given time and distance from the Christian beginnings, it's doctrines and dogmas that have strayed off course.

I do not believe that "salvation" is limited to Christians anymore than I believe that one's public display of acceptance of Jesus is indicative of the quality of 'their soul.' That's going to be weighed later-- Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and all 52 flavors. These are my beliefs based upon what I have seen and experienced in spirit-- not anything I've read.

In the end, it's not our beliefs that determine who will 'be saved' -- but God's will.
 
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Scott Downey

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Christian exclusivity is the core doctrine that only Christians will be saved. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6, NKJV.

The common understanding is that non-Christians are destined for eternity in hell. Is this your understanding - i.e., all Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, atheists and other non-Christians are destined for hell? Considering the widely different circumstances of people across the globe - the widely different odds of them ever hearing about Jesus in a meaningful way or turning to Him even if they do - I find this difficult if not impossible to believe.
This is not an issue for Calvinists whatsoever as they truly leave this in God's hands and they agree most closely with the scriptures, especially the scriptures describing salvation from an Eternal God's POV, predestined to be chosen in Him before time began which is different from a man's POV who experiences salvation or the lack of it in his own time on this earth. Men do not have God's perspective as they are just men.

Jesus, all the apostles, all that they wrote, nothing allows for eternal life apart from believing in the Son.

All those who try to enter another way into heaven, Christ calls thieves and robbers.
v10, Jesus has other sheep. But see they also will hear His voice, and be saved. They will not hear the voice of a stranger and be saved. So this is still all of Christ. Christ will save all of His sheep and none else get saved.


John 10, Jesus is the DOOR by which His sheep enter eternal life.

1 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.

Jesus the Good Shepherd​

7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came [a]before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a [b]hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
 

Scott Downey

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People who believe righteousness with God is by obeying the commandments, doing good things, trying to be good, etc... Paul tells it to them like this, mankind is only justified by faith in Christ.

AND if there is any other way to God, then Christ died in vain... So think about that...
We are saved only by the grace of God. By grace through faith and that is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Galatians 2
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, [g]why do you compel Gentiles to live as [h]Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not [i]justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died [j]in vain.”
 

Scott Downey

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This all gets back to Jesus saying you must be born again both to see and enter the kingdom of God, John 3 says.
Being born of God, born again is according to God's will for any particular person in time. And it happens like a soft breeze of wind blowing on you, the kingdom of God does not come with observation. Being born again is not an emotional experience with people madly jumping up and down in ecstasy...

God makes whomever He wishes born of God to make someone spiritually alive to God, your whole spiritual life flows out from that. And it is not of our will, it is only of His will that we are born again and thereof we then believe.
It is why Christ uses the words marvel not, this is not under your control.

John 3
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?