God be praised that He’s seen fit to place Apprising Ministries among the leading online apologetics and discernment works. This undeserved forum allows me to share with the church items from others and thereby give them a larger voice.

This is one such privileged time. The following was shared with me by a member of AM’s independent board of directors, Paul Walker, pastor of Elm Avenue Baptist Church. The following was writtten by Tom Thiessen, pastor of Gospel Church Durango.

1. Explaining Terms 

Exclusivism: The idea of exclusivism is that there is only one way to be saved which excludes other ways of attempting to be saved; that there is one ultimate truth which excludes other claims to truth. 

Put simply, to be an exclusivist is to believe that “there is one name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved”: the name Jesus Christ.  It is to believe that Christianity is actually true, not simply true for those who believe it.  It is to believe that the Bible (as opposed to the Koran, the Tao Te Ching, the Upanishads, the Book of Mormon, mystical experiences, etc.) is the word of God. 

Inclusivism: The idea that all worldviews are equally true, and all religious paths lead to the same place. 

2. The Bad Parts of Exclusivism 

Why would someone claim to be friends with such a social outcast as exclusivism?  I want to take a minute and join you in throwing some stones at exclusivism.  The term comes off as arrogant and self-righteous.  It reminds us of clubs we weren’t allowed into, parties of rich people who smoke fancy cigars and sip cognac who require a secret password that we are not worthy to know.  Who do they think they are anyway?

But Christianity clearly speaks against self righteousness and arrogance in favor of humility and a complete trust in the righteousness of Jesus.  The gospel is that we are all sinners, and we all fall short of the glory of God.  And yet, God will forgive our sin and consider us as perfectly righteous in Jesus when we trust him and give up in our fight against him to be our own ruler.  So our central belief is that we are not righteous enough to gain God’s eye, to earn his favor.  He looked upon us purely because of his mercy.  This destroys self-righteousness.  How can I stand looking down my nose at another when I know that my own standing before God depends on the righteousness of another given to me as a free gift?  How can I be arrogant when Christ my Lord humbled himself to become a human and die a brutal death on a cross because of my wickedness?  The Christian gospel destroys arrogance and self-righteousness. 

All other religions and philosophies actually promote arrogance and self-righteousness.  Every system promises eternal life to those who do really good.  Whether it is to follow the eightfold path, to keep yourself free from bad karma, to observe the five pillars, to eat all the right organic foods, or to perpetuate your clan by surviving as the fittest; all other religions teach that you get spiritual, you get righteous, you get the good life through trying harder.  So, if you have attained some level in these systems, you have only yourself to congratulate.  Those who are less well-off belong there because they just haven’t tried as hard as you have.  The caste system is a perfect example of this kind of thing.  This social issue is founded on the idea that the Daliths deserve to be there because they are not as good as those reincarnated into a higher caste due to their good karma.  You who are struggling and suffering, you belong there because you are weak.  Now you know that arrogance and self-righteousness are wrong, but do you see how Christianity is founded on a belief system that inherently undermines those things? 

3. Inclusively Exclusive 

The next thing that needs to be pointed out is that unlike those people who just wouldn’t invite you to their party, Christians are exclusive in order to be inclusive. Christianity is exclusive like directions to a dinner party are exclusive.  If I want you to come to my party, then I will impose my totalitarian system of lefts and rights, Norths and Souths upon you.  What’s that, you don’t want to head West on 160, you want to drive South?  Okay, but that won’t get you to the party.  If excluding you was my goal, I would tell you to go whichever way you please.  Go to Main streetand turn left, or right, whatever you feel.  See you there, “snicker, snicker.”

4.  What Jesus Said 

Jesus warned about false prophets.  Can an inclusivist believe in such a thing?  “Well, all roads but that one!”  Do you really believe that all roads lead to God?  David Koresh, Jim Jones, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard?

Jesus said that no one comes to the Father but through him.  He actually claimed to be the Lord over everything.  Can you be cool with that?  Can you accept that teaching?

Jesus died because the only way people could be restored to God is if their sins were paid for.  As he faced his brutal death which involved the curse of his Father for the sin of his people, he sweat drops of blood. He cried out in agony, “If it is possible, let this cup (of wrath) pass from me.”  Why didn’t the merciful God say to his Son, “Oh, I forgot, humanity can be restored by the eightfold path, you don’t have to die.”  Or “Shoot, what was I thinking, if they just live a pretty good life that should satisfy my divine justice, I can’t believe I almost had you put to death as a substitute for sinners.” 

5. Inclusivism is Impossible and No One Really Believes It. 

If I haven’t struck a nerve yet, maybe this will do it.  There is no such thing as true inclusivism because it is a logical impossibility.  Stick with me, the argument is simple, but it can take a bit to sink in. First let me point out that whenever we affirm the truth of something, we at the same time deny the truth of its opposite.  So if a girl tells you, “I don’t want to go out with you” and you say, “great, when should I pick you up?” there is something wrong with your mental processes.  When she said she doesn’t want to go out with you, she is denying the opposite fact: that she does want to go out with you.  

Okay, I think we get it.  So, when you affirm inclusivism, you at the same time necessarily deny its opposite.  The opposite of inclusivism is exclusivism.  So by affirming that all roads lead to God, you are at the same time denying the notion that not all roads lead to God.  The problem is that this kind of exclusivism is essential to the world’s major religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam to name just a few.  So, by affirming inclusivism, you have excluded the possibility of these religions being true.  All the sudden your inclusivism doesn’t sound very inclusive.  I can tell you for sure it doesn’t include me.  

So everyone excludes some belief or other.  The question is, what beliefs do you exclude, by what standard, and do you admit to excluding beliefs?  I know I am asking you to believe something that will make you unpopular, it might get you excluded from certain parties.  Just know that you will always be welcome at Gospel Church Durango and Elm Ave. Baptist of Grand Junction. 

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