Time For Truth

A place to grow in the Grace & Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ

A pluralist religion, not Christianity

A very dear and insightful friend just sent me a copy of a New York Times article entitled Survey shows U.S. Religious Tolerance. The article sites a study that clearly indicates the situation that I have been decrying for many years. The article quotes the statistic that, “70 percent of Americans affiliated with a religion or denomination said they agreed that ‘many religions can lead to eternal life,’ including majorities among Protestants and Catholics. Among evangelical Christians, 57 percent agreed with the statement, and among Catholics, 79 percent did. Among minority faiths, more than 80 percent of Jews, Hindus and Buddhists agreed with the statement, and more than half of Muslims did.” This article should be a wake-up call to Christian leaders throughout the country that they are communicating a gospel that is completely at odds with historic Christian Orthodoxy.
Pluralism, universalism, and inclusivism should have no place among evangelical theology or belief. That so many that identify themselves as Christians shows a clear misunderstanding of the gospel message, should be a call to proper evangelism and discipleship. Those who believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, must understand that this leads directly to what the Bible clearly affirms, which is salvation only by trusting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, revealed in Scripture alone, to the Glory of God alone excludes certain beliefs. It excludes that a person can be saved by simply being a good person. It excludes a person believing sincerely in other faiths being saved. It excludes the possibility that people can be saved by Jesus, even if they have never heard the gospel. There is a reason for the Protestant Reformed use of the term “alone”. We need to busy about the task of disciple-making and teaching people the clear truths of Scripture.
The positions of pluralists and inclusivists simply cannot be defended through scripture and only serve to communicate a gospel that cannot save. It is a complete and utter scandal that the vast majority of leaders among mainline Protestant denominations promulgate a pluralist and inclusivist gospel instead of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

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June 23, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

6 Comments »

  1. so how does the sovereignty of God fit into your understanding of salvation? Maybe, just maybe, God can choose who God wants to choose?

    Comment by revkpd | June 24, 2008

  2. As I have often been told when wrestling with the same issue: God chooses the ends as well as the means.

    Suffice it to say that it would be impossible for me to solve the mystery of how God’s sovereignty and human free will come together in a blog response.

    I refer you to much more thorough works that bring together a balance of the scriptures that affirm both, without ever denying the complete sovereignty of almighty God.

    J.I. Packer’s, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is an excellent place to start. William Lane Craig has a slightly different twist on the topic as he appeals to middle knowledge (the Only Wise God). There are many other fine books, if you would like more options.

    Ultimately you are overlooking what the sovereign God makes clear throughout scripture. Was it not Jesus who makes clear that without being born again, we will never see the kingdom of God? God calls sinful humans to repentance, conversion and regeneration.
    True conversion comes from godly sorrow and brings repentance leading to salvation (2Cor. 7:10). Conversion is a response to the movement of God in his offer of salvation (Jn. 1:12,13). Occurring instantaneously such as in the life of Paul (Acts 9:5) or over a period of time, conversion involves a radical commitment to God and a turning from sin in repentance (Acts 2:38). Conversion also involves a new orientation toward life through faith in Christ (Gal. 2:16). A person experiences conversion when they willingly respond to the gospel message with repentance from sins and trusting Christ for salvation. There must be a change in view that results in a new thinking and a recognition that sin involves personal guilt, defilement and helplessness (ROM. 2:20). There must be a change of purpose, an inward turning away from sin and a desire to seek forgiveness and restoration (Acts 2:38). The idea of repentance cannot be shallow but must embrace the radical nature of the call to be holy (Luke 9:23).
    Faith is part of the process of conversion and is closely tied in with repentance. Where repentance is a turning from sin, faith is a turning to Christ. Faith can be best understood as a believing the true reality about Christ and believing in Christ (Heb. 11:6). Faith works in harmony with knowledge not against it, as Jesus demonstrates to Thomas after his resurrection (John 20:24-29). Faith is built on a personal trust in God (2Tim. 1:12). The faith that saves is a faith that involves the mind, the heart, and the will.
    Regeneration consists of the implanting of the principle of the new spiritual life in a person: a complete change in a person’s natural tendencies (Gal. 5:24,25), which affects the whole person: the intellect (1Cor. 2:14,15); the will (Phil. 2:13); and the feelings or emotions (1Pet. 1:8).

    None of this denies the sovereignty of God, but fully embraces that God is at work throughout the entire process.

    Comment by Adel Thalos | June 24, 2008

  3. you make some interesting assumptions. I think we approach this from very different perspectives. Ultimately, I am not overlooking scripture. I would suggest you are not looking at the total biblical witness by stating the passages you have listed. I would suggest reading Eph. 1:10 and 2 Cor. 1:19. Certainly Romans 9-11 provides the contradictions between your perspective and mine – and this time in Paul’s perspective!

    With that, I will let you profess your beliefs and I will uphold my own. I hope you can respect the fact that another trained theologian in the Reformed tradition might express sovereignty differently.

    Grace and peace.

    Comment by revkpd | June 24, 2008

  4. revkpd,

    I have no idea what reformed tradition you are holding to. Which one would that be? Since you don’t seem to like Christ’s answer to Nicodemus, how would you answer the question of what must one do to be saved? Or are you telling us that you do not believe in the need for conversion. Maybe Jesus got it wrong and he should have responded you don’t need to do a thing, if God chooses you your in, if he chooses someone else, too bad for you?

    Comment by Adel Thalos | June 24, 2008

  5. I find the comments an interesting read.I was wondering if,in the story, 70% of Americans affiliated with a religion…said they agreed that “many religions can lead to eternal life”,may have meant religion as;Protestent-catholics-methdists-baptist-ect.(most of them?)
    If Jesus Christ is the King,and if He is the word of God,Then salvation is found in no one else,for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”.That leaves no place for pluralistic theology in the reading of Gods word,the teaching of Gods word,the preaching of Gods word to the world .
    Therefore I agree,That plualism (teaching the world that we are showing a way to God,not the way )is giving into the prince of the air,and calling God a lier.Is not that what he did to eve?called God a lier?

    Comment by ole | August 18, 2008

  6. Thank you for your comment ole. You might be right that some people might understand “many religions” as traditionaly Christian ones, but it is hard to tell (can’t read their minds). Although it is difficult to believe that in our modern pluralistic world with internet, constant television, and other forms of communication/entertainment that the vast majority of people would not recognize that there are hundreds of religions (even if they do not know what they are or what they teach). But I can envision a few people who might have thought that way.

    Comment by Adel Thalos | August 18, 2008


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