John 14.6 – Christian exclusivism
Posted: 7 March 2012 in John

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

I heard it again just recently: Namely that God wouldn’t condemn somebody for not believing in Christ if they had never heard of him. The problem with this line of argumentation is that it loses sight of sin as being the primary cause of condemnation. Disbelief in Christ only brings condemnation in the secondary sense that somebody was not availed themselves of the only means of salvation from the consequences of sin.

Suppose that five men were on trial for the same criminal offence, and at the end of the trial, when sentence is pronounced, each one has the option of a heavy fine, or a jail term of six years. What if four of them are lucky, and they had rich relations who were able to pay their fines for them, but the fifth one was not so lucky, and he went off to jail. Was he being treated unjustly because he was the only one given a jail term? Not really, he was just collecting the due reward of his nefarious activities.

Similarly, for Christians Christ plays the role of benevolent relative in saving us from the consequences of original sin, and we have it on the authority of the Bible that there is no other means of salvation except him. But that does not mean somebody who has never heard of Christ is being treated unjustly if he is condemned without ever having heard of Christ. He stands before God with the guilt which is shared by the entire human race.

If the attempt is made to argue that a Muslim, Hindu or atheist ought to be capable of salvation, because they have led good and moral lives, then we will very quickly find ourselves back with a religion which revolves around salvation through works – and one which overlooks the fact of original sin.

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