Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Broad Way of Inclusive Theology

“ Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Mt 7:13-14 AV)

The words of Jesus in the above passage seem fairly straight forward so that most should be able to understand that the road to salvation is a far less traveled path than the highway to hell. Looking around my community, neighborhood and workplace, I know from the above that it is likely the majority of souls in my particular corner of the world will have nothing to do with the scriptural presentation of Jesus. They will continue with their lust and their vices and will even do a lot of “good things”. The worst of the devils seem to have a knack for looking real good when they are up to their worse. My community is full of churches. It has its mosques. It even has a fair contingent of far eastern religions. What it doesn’t have a lot of are Christocentric, orthodox fellowships that take the Bible to actually be representative of the Word of God, believing what is contained therein. I can think of half a dozen emergent, “seeker-sensitive” churches all within a twenty minute ride of my home that will put on quite a show on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings but the leadership of not one of them will accept the above verse in its literal importance. It is more important to the “seeker-sensitive” emergent pastor to fill his comfortable seats sometimes two and three times on a Sunday morning and there is no shortage of people willing to go to the show. You can feel really good, listen to good ‘jams’ and find out what good things are going on in the community this week. You can even get a good cup of java and a muffin to hold you over until your Sunday after meeting brunch. What you don’t get is profound. What is not stated is the Truth. What is not stated at all is the above passage and it is kept quiet because it offends the ear of those comfortable with their philosophies and their brittle clay selves.  The Apostle called it satisfying the “itching ear”.

Jesus went on after stating the above.

“ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Mt 7:15-20 AV)

One of the defining characteristics of the Inclusivist theology, at least as proposed by men such as John Sanders, co-author of What About Those Who Have Never Heard? Three Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelized ( Ed. by John Sanders. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995. ) is the idea that men can be saved by whatever measure of faith they have even within the false religions of the world. It is not faith specifically in Christ but a general faith in a generic god. Muslims, because they supposedly worship the “God of Abraham”, are recipients of a faith in God and therefore can have a salvation in Christ due to that portion of “light” revealed to them. Of course this is not a scriptural argument but as with the seekers, it satisfies an itching ear. By any reasonable scriptural standard, Muhammad is a false prophet who relegated Jesus to a secondary status. Paul referred to such men as those who present “another Jesus” and we are to have nothing to do with them. They are of the world. Why would saints be called to remove themselves from the influences of the world only to have the world itself and its false religions promoted as another way to Christ and His salvation (2 Cor 6:17)? The truth is there is no other way to Christ but through Christianity and its covenant relationships with a people called, predestined, justified and sanctified in Jesus Christ. That is an offense to the world and a hard cup to swallow for those who dwell on fairness and “chance”. Suppose the opening scriptural passage had been written differently?

“ Enter ye in at the broad gate: for straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and few there be which go in thereat: Because wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth unto life, and nearly all there be that find it.” (Wishful Thinking 7:13-14 AV)

That is the mantra of the inclusivist church but it has nothing in common with the truth of Jesus’ words.

*I want to point out and make clear that by inclusivist I and most other exclusivists do not refer to the issues of accountability i.e. children, the mentally infirm and abortions. There are some who insist on making that a measure of their defense of general revelation and post-mortem inclusivism however it is a special pleading that is inappropriate to bring into the matter.