". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Christianity Is Exclusive - and Inclusive!

March 28, 2024

A study by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research published in late 2022 offered a startling finding: nearly 60% of professing evangelical Protestants believe Jesus is but one of a number of ways to God. A similar 2021 survey by Probe Ministries documented a similar percentage.

This is more than troubling — it is a rejection, whether from ignorance or outright rebellion to God’s Word, of the New Testament’s teaching about the person and work of Jesus Christ. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” said Jesus. “No one comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6). The apostle Peter confirmed his Master’s claim: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). In addition to such explicit passages, the whole text of the New Testament asserts that Jesus of Nazareth, fully God and fully man, took into Himself the penalty of eternal death deserved by all of us. That’s comprehensive in both time and scope, and by definition excludes all other supposed pathways to God.

These things compose a single claim: That there are no other means of obtaining a relationship with God and eternal life apart from placing your trust in Christ alone for forgiveness and reconciliation with our Creator. And in making this claim, Christianity is accused of being narrow, unfair, and arrogant. There are so many other faiths, and so many good people now and throughout history who have never heard of Jesus; how can Christianity tell every other religion it is false and every other spiritual code it is inadequate?

These are hard questions. Not to admit this is not to be honest. Yet the Bible also tells us that God is both loving and just, and Jesus commanded His followers to go throughout the earth and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). This, then, is the foundational calling of all who have come to know Him.

The God of the Bible has provided but one way to be born physically and, in the same way, only one way to be born spiritually. He is the One Who makes and redeems; the way of knowing Him is a matter of His choice, not ours.

The uniqueness of Jesus and His plan of salvation are not the Bible’s only exclusivities. Christianity also claims that marriage is exclusive: one man and one woman in a life-long, covenantal relationship (see, for example, Proverbs 2:14) and the only place where sexual intimacy is honored by God. In our era, one characterized by every manner of sexual dysfunction and promiscuity, this understanding of human sexuality is profoundly counter-cultural. It is also an understanding of unity, complementarity, and life-affirming relationship imbued with beauty, goodness, and truth.

These things mirror the character of God Himself. He is a God of exclusivity. He told the people of Israel, “See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me” (Deuteronomy 32:39). He declares to Isaiah, “I am Yahweh, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (45:5).

In our time, these scriptural claims are discomfiting. How much simpler and less contentious to affirm religion as palliative, a means of coping with stress and molding one’s preferred deity into the form most comfortable to the molder. And how distasteful to assert that there is but one true God and one means of entering His presence, that new birth through which the imponderable purity of His Son is imputed to those who repent and place their hope in Him alone.

These perceptions are appealing but have an immutable disadvantage: They are false, wrong, and turn us in the direction of everlasting punishment. This is because of the gospel’s unmitigated inclusivity.

Yes, you read that correctly. The good news of Jesus is inclusive, open to all who come to Him and receive Him by faith. We read in Revelation 7:9 that in heaven, followers of Christ will be part of “a great multitude that no one can number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.” Eternal redemption is open to all, not some spiritual elite or mysteriously initiated handful.

Jesus is alive: This is the simple and universe-shaking truth of the resurrection, that always-glorious day we will celebrate this coming Sunday. The way to know God is exclusively through Him, and that way is accessible to all, including you and me. Come meet Him today.

Rob Schwarzwalder, Ph.D., is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.