Salvation is a matter we all must consider at some stage in our spiritual lives, and in this post I’d like to briefly present an alternative to the common Christian view that Jesus is the only way to have peace with God.
During times when I have been immersed in Christian life and enthusiastically proclaiming the gospel message, there has been an urgency to my endeavours owing to a passion for Jesus and a fear that everyone who isn’t saved is going to hell. This is the basis for Christian evangelism, and this is why Christian evangelists can often seem pushy. It’s because they genuinely feel they have an exclusive claim to truth, and that the only way to avoid eternal punishment is by becoming a believer.
But if God is the omnipresent creator of the universe, then He has created every religion, not just Christianity. He is the creator of millions of Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Sikhs and Jehovah’s Witnesses. He is also the creator of all those people who are atheists, or agnostics. He has created literally billions of people who have lived and died outside of the Christian faith. Can it really be the case that all of these lives, with all their richness and diversity, are meaningless, because they are empty of Jesus Christ?
An alternative view would be that creation is a rich tapestry in which every thread, or every person, has a distinct and meaningful role to play. Existence can be seen as a grand performance in which God is expressing His infinite power by creating great diversity. Everyone who has lived and died has played out their role in God’s grand game, and God will bring everything together in a coherent way in the future.
Some Christians argue that nonbelievers are judged ‘by the light they have received’, meaning that even if they haven’t heard the gospel, they are still morally culpable, as they have been exposed to good and evil and have had to choose accordingly. This is a way of accommodating all those outside of the faith into the Christian worldview.
But I wonder whether every life might be valuable to God in its own right, because if God is the sovereign creator, sustainer, and animator of all there is, then everyone’s life has unfolded in exactly the way God intended, even if they did not embrace Jesus as Lord and Saviour and live a Christian life.
The above article is a modified extract from my essay entitled An Almighty Predicament: A Discourse on the Arguments For and Against Christianity which is available in paperback and eBook formats (click here for details).