Inclusivism VS. Exclusivism
In article #2 of this series, we started exploring the idea of inclusivism – the idea that salvation can be attained apart from the knowledge of Jesus (though Jesus’ work was necessary for salvation to be available, even if through a faith other than Christianity). So, we asked, “Is this idea biblical?”
We concluded inclusivism does NOT hold up under biblical scrutiny and concluded that the clear stance of the Bible is exclusivism: salvation is only found in faith in Christ alone.
Before we move on in this series, I wanted to quickly give one more explanation why Christianity is an exclusivist religion.
It comes down to this: Christianity isn’t exclusivist because certain verses say so; Christianity is exclusivist because the whole biblical explanation of reality leads to exclusivism. Those verses we looked at in the last article are simply confirming the exclusivist storyline of the Bible.
And it comes down to three things:
the nature of God,
the nature of humankind, and
the nature of Christ.
If what the Bible says about the nature of God and the nature humankind are true, then the ONLY hope for salvation is Jesus Christ.
THE NATURE OF GOD
First, God is perfectly good, righteous, holy, and just.
THE NATURE OF HUMANKIND
Secondly, all of humankind has sin. Thus, all of humanity – every individual human being – is separated from our perfectly good, righteous, holy, and just God. To deny this is to not have a high enough view of God or a low enough view of sin.
Separation from God due to sin is the current state of every human (apart from Jesus Christ), and once they die, they will continue to be separated from God. Thus, we need a savior.
This answers a common misunderstanding I hear often from those who are offended by the exclusivism of Christianity. The mistaken idea is that God condemns those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ because they don’t believe in Jesus, as if God chose belief in Jesus as some random reason for condemning people to hell. But humankind is ALREADY condemned because of sin. Jesus Christ is NOT the CAUSE of damnation but the CURE.
So, then the question is: WHY? Why must one believe in Jesus Christ to have salvation? Why can’t someone follow another spiritual teacher? Or, why can’t someone even follow, say, Moses instead – after all, both Moses and Jesus serve the same God?
THE NATURE OF CHRIST
Jesus Christ is exclusively the God-man. The second person of the Triune God took on flesh and became a man. He is completely God and completely man.
This God-man lived a perfect life that none of us can and died a death he didn’t deserve. As fully man, he can represent humankind. As fully eternal God, his sacrifice can cover us all and all our sins.
The separation between God and humankind could only be bridged by Jesus Christ, the only God-man. The exclusive gift of salvation could only be won by the exclusive God-man.
This is why Christianity is exclusivist.
The gift of salvation can be attained alone by faith in the only one who could attain it.
Thus, if all that the Bible says is true – about the nature of God, man, and the God-man – then Christianity must be exclusivist.
NEXT: Is the Holy Spirit needed for salvation?
Learn more about Who Jesus Ain’t here.