In my last post, I wrote about the exclusive nature of the first and greatest commandment. Since then, I’ve finished listening to a debate between Dr. James White and Dr. John Sanders titled Is Knowing Jesus the Only Way to Be Saved? (You can watch the debate here.) and wanted to share some more reasons why “Christian” inclusivism is anti-Christian nonsense.
Firstly, in Jesus’ high priestly prayer recorded in John 17, he says that he has been given authority over all flesh in order to give eternal life to all whom the Father has given him (vv.1-2). Note that Christ does not lack authority over any flesh (i.e. people from all places at all times and under all circumstances). Note, furthermore, that Christ says that this authority has been given to him for the sake of his giving life to a specific class of people among the larger set of “flesh” over which he has been given authority. There is, therefore, no one that is unreached by accident. Christ is Sovereign over all flesh. There are, therefore, no persons who are unbelievers due to some oversight by the Triune God! This is clearly seen to be the case given Christ’s identification of those whom the Father has given to him. Because no one escapes the Sovereign rule of Christ Jesus, all the saved and unsaved are what they are by virtue of Christ the Lord’s Sovereign decree.
Secondly, in the same high priestly prayer of John 17, Christ Jesus defines eternal life as knowing the only true God and his Christ whom he has sent (cf. John 17:3). This means that there are no Christians who do not know God and the Savior whom he sent to die for their sins. To suggest that there are is to contradict Jesus’ words. If one does not know the one true God (i.e. the God of Israel who revealed himself explicitly only to Israel), and if one does not know his Son whom he has sent (i.e. Jesus Christ the Spotless Lamb of God for sinners crucified and raised again three days later), then one is not in possession of eternal life.
Thirdly, lest the inclusivist say “ Ah, yes, but this knowing that Jesus talks about is non-propositional, emotive, mystical…” Jesus anticipates the words of his enemies who argue thus and so says:
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” (John 17:6-8)
Jesus explicitly defines knowledge of the only true God and his Son as consisting of names, words, truth, understanding – i.e. propositional revelation. One cannot claim, therefore, that there are people who know God and Christ in some non-propositional way. All men are born with an innate knowledge of God, yes; however, knowledge of who this God is and what he demands of them, knowledge of how they are sinners in need of a divine Savior, and knowledge of that Savior’s coming to live, die, and rise again for the salvation of such sinners – this knowledge only comes through the preaching of the Gospel from the Scriptures.
It is, therefore, only through an explicit knowledge of the one true God and his Son the Sacrificed Lamb for sinners that sinners can be saved. The tribesmen in the middle of nowhere, in other words, who have not had the Gospel proclaimed to them will not be saved. For faith in the one true God, as I pointed out in my last post, is very specifically identified by Scripture as faith in Yahweh who revealed himself propositionally in the books of Scripture. And, moreover, faith in the Savior comes through the very specific revelation of God in Christ as recorded in the Gospels, as Jesus clearly states.
There is no such thing as Christian inclusivism, brothers and sisters. God is Sovereign over whom he saves. Therefore, those who perish have not perished unjustly or apart from his knowledge. The Triune King of all things does not need an irrational theologian to serve as his public relations consultant. If the tribesmen in the middle of nowhere are not saved, that is God’s prerogative. If they are saved, however, they will be saved through the preaching of the Gospel and not through faith in some unknown deity. Scripture does not identify theological ignorance as a virtue but as an indication that one is on his or her way to everlasting destruction. Don’t be deceived.
Soli Deo Gloria!