Sharing an Exclusive Jesus in an Inclusive World

There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
–Acts 4:12

Every week, my email inbox is filled with all kinds of interesting questions. Is it alright for Christians to be cremated? Are the six days of creation in Genesis literal twenty-four-hour days? Can Christians drink alcohol? I think most of you would agree that as intriguing and perhaps even important as those questions are, they are secondary in importance to the question: Are there many ways to get to heaven when you die, or is there only one way to get to heaven?

There are four prevalent views today about who will be in heaven. First, universalism is the belief that everybody goes to heaven. Former pastor Rob Bell popularized this view in his book “Love Wins.” He said, “Millions have been taught that if they don’t believe, if they don’t accept in the right way according to the person telling them the gospel, and they were hit by a car and died later that same day, God would have no choice but to punish them forever in conscious torment in hell. . . . A loving heavenly father who will go to extraordinary lengths to have a relationship with them would, in the blink of any eye, become a cruel, mean, and vicious tormenter who would ensure that they would have no escape from an endless future of agony. If there was an earthly father who was like that, we would call the authorities. . . . That kind of God is simply devastating. Psychologically crushing. We can’t bear it.” Rob Bell was saying, “God can’t eternally torment people for their sins because I can’t conceive of a god like that. And if I can’t conceive of a god like that, he must not exist.” That is flawed logic.

The second way to answer that question is through pluralism. Pluralism restricts salvation to religious people, regardless of what their religion is. Pluralists maintain that all religions are equally valid. They would say, “There’s a place in hell for drug dealers, murderers, and rapists, but good people–religious people–will go to heaven.” They say all religions are like different paths up the same mountain that lead to God. You can understand why this view is prevalent when you look at the number of different world religions. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the world is populated by 1 billion Muslims, 650 million Hindus, over 300 million Buddhists and over 200 million followers of Chinese folk religions in addition to the 2 billion people who are classified as Christians. And you don’t have to go to a distant country to find those other religions. They are likely living right next door to you. That’s why as this country becomes increasingly diverse, pluralism becomes increasingly popular. Pluralism allows us to send really bad people to hell, but it also allows people of all religions to go to heaven. It doesn’t require us saying, “Your religion is wrong.” That is why pluralism is popular today.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Sharing an Exclusive Jesus in an Inclusive World” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Rob Bell, “Love Wins” (New York: HarperOne, 2011), 173, 175; Rick Rood, “Do All Roads Lead to God? The Christian Attitude toward Non-Christian Religions,” Probe Ministries, August 30, 1999.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

 

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