Not All Roads Lead to God

This presentation was given at the Culture Talk Conference jointly sponsored by Apologetics.com and Bay Farm Community Church in Alameda CA on Sept. 5, 2009.

  • Four Views
    • Universalism: The Good News for All Approach
    • Pluralism: The Have It Your Way View
    • Inclusivism: Unreached? Unsaved?
    • Exclusivism: One way to Heaven

  • Universalism: Everyone has salvation
    • Three Approaches:
      • Universal Reconciliation
      • Pardon Reconciliation
      • Universal Reconciliation
    • Origen
      • 2nd Century Teacher
      • Poor exegesis and introduced Pagan Philosophy
      • Many teachings condemned by the Church
    • 17th Century: Peter Sterry & Jeremiah White
      • God’s ultimate attribute is Love
      • Wrath is only an expression of God’s love
      • Hell is non-eternal, only used to refine souls
    • 19th Century
      • F.D.E. Schleiermacher
    • Evaluate Universalism: Texts showing Two Destinations
      • Matthew 25:31-46
      • Luke 16: 19-31
      • Revelation 14: 9 -11

  • Pluralism: Have it Your way
    • Defined: All religions lead to God
    • 70 % of Americans believe there are multiple ways to Heaven (57% of Evangelical Christians agree)
    • John Hick
      • A God of love wouldn’t make it so difficult to get into salvation, only allowing a small majority to be saved.
      • People see God, or “Realty,” through every religion—it’s just different experiences and perceptions of the same God.
      • Moved from Christ-focused to God-focused religion.
      • Moved from exclusivity in Christianity to seeing it only as “a” way.
      • Moved from knowing God, to believing God could not be fully seen in any religion—that all only give a perspective.
    • Two Issues with Pluralism
      • Empirical Problem
        • How does pluralism have the knowledge about God, to claim there is no religion that has the knowledge about God?
        • Claiming knowledge of the unknowable.

      • Contradiction problem
        • Law of non-contradiction
        • Each religion must get rid of exclusive truth claims to be compatible
          • Jesus can’t be God and not-god
          • God can’t be one and hundreds
    • Truth in other religions
      • Religions that have accurate moral truth claims have “truth”
      • Truth, or the ability to provide salvation, is what is not found outside of Christianity and the God of the Bible.
        • John 14:6
        • John 8:19
        • Matthew 4:10
        • Exodus 10:2
        • Deuteronomy 6:4
        • 1 Timothy 2:5

  • Inclusivism: Christians and those who’ve never heard the Gospel are saved.
    • Basic Argument
      • God wants all to be saved
      • Not everyone knows about the Gospel
      • Therefore, God would provide opportunity for salvation outside of Christianity.
    • General Revelation and Salvation
      • Romans 1-2
        • Does not point to God’s grace and General Revelation equally salvation.
        • Actually reveals mankind’s universal guilt under the Law
          • Romans 6:23
          • Romans 3:23
          • Isaiah 53:6
          • Psalms 53:3
    • Karl Rahner:
      • Roman Catholic Jesuit
      • 5th Volume of Theological Investigations
        • Christianity is the right religion, founded on the “unique event of God in Christ.”
        • But, this knowledge is not available to those who have not heard, and therefore they would be excluded from salvation.
        • He concluded that therefore, until the members of other religions hear the Gospel, their “religious traditions are valid and capable of giving the saving grace of God.”
        • “Anonymous Christians”
        • Karl Rahner’s view of Grace
          • Not consistent with the idea of “unmerited favor” available only through Christ’s propitiation.
    • Clark Pinnock:
      • We must not conclude, just because we know a person to be a Buddhist, that his or her heart is not seeking God. What God really cares about is faith and not theology, trust and not orthodoxy.”
    • Three Assumptions
      • 1. Man is looking for God.
      • 2. People just can’t find him through Christianity.
      • 3. Until they hear the Gospel, salvation is available through their faith.
    • Sincerity and Truth
      • Sincerity doesn’t impact truth
      • Biblical Support
        • Hosea
        • Ezekiel
        • Acts 17
    • Logical Ramifications:
      • Gregory Alan Thornbury: If inclusivism is true, stop sending missionaries. This makes it so the person’s soul is at risk.
        • But that is inconsistent with what the Bible shows us—we find the great commission, the directive to share the Gospel and the proclamation of Christ as Lord.
      • Salvation becomes works-based
        • Contrary to Ephesians 2: 8-9

28% of Americans think it’s impossible to earn salvation (47% of born-again Christians agree).

  • Exclusivism: truth is found in one religion.
      • Hard to accept that God would punish people
      • Difficult to deal with the idea of people going to Hell
      • Grapples with the idea that people try so hard to get to God, and just can’t find Him. It seems unjust to think of them as going to Hell.
    • Misunderstanding God’s character
      • God Isn’t love…love is a characteristic of God.
      • A. W. Tozer says, “A right conception of God is basic not only in systematic theology but to a practical Christian living as well…. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.” (Knowledge of the Holy)
    • D.A. Carson: Does the God of love we talk about hold it’s same meaning if we strip everything else away from the God of the Bible? (The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God)
    • Salvation
      • Penal substitution: He bore our sin
      • Christ’s sacrifice, propitiation and reconciliation are all absolutely necessary for us to be saved.
    • What is the purpose of the death, resurrection and restoration to God through Christ if salvation is found in other ways outside of Christ?
    • R.C. Sproul’s view on Hell
      • “No matter how we analyze the concept of hell it often sounds to us as a place of cruel and unusual punishment. If, however, we can take any comfort in the concept of hell, we can take it in the full assurance that there will be no cruelty there. It is impossible for God to be cruel. Cruelty involves inflicting a punishment that is more severe or harsh than the crime. Cruelty in this sense is unjust. God is incapable of inflicting an unjust punishment. The Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right. No innocent person will ever suffer at His hand” (From article “Hell”).
      • Revelation 16:10-11
  • Conclusion
    • The Bible shows salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
    • This is the most important message we have as it impacts everyone’s eternal destination.
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carolyn@apologetics.com

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