Scattered Thoughts on the Uniqueness of the Gospel

Must one believe in Jesus to be saved? Can people who have never heard of Christ be saved somehow “through Christ” without believing in him? Here are some of my thoughts:

It seems fairly clear to me that faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10), and this is the major motivating factor behind missions and evangelism. While I agree that salvation does not require a perfect theology, it seems that there is some bare minimum set of propositions which one must believe to be saved (i.e., the gospel is propositional as well as relational). “Jesus is Lord” or “Christ and him crucified” would be good places to start. I agree that all men have knowledge of God (Rom. 1), but it seems to me that Paul’s argument is that all men have enough knowledge of God to make them accountable but have rejected God and therefore cannot be saved by this knowledge. Men (even remote tribesmen who have lived and died without hearing the gospel) are not condemned for failing to believe the gospel; they are condemned because they have rejected God and are sinners. We don’t risk condemning people by evangelizing them and thus making them responsible for the gospel; they were condemned already, and we are providing them the only hope of salvation. It seems like a fundamental part of the good news of the New Testament is that the gospel is for all men, Jew and Gentile alike. It is in this sense that I interpret “all men” in verses like Titus 2:11 (“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people”); the verse is not referring to every single person who ever lived. If it were, then every single person would be saved.

Do Jews pray to the same God we do? That’s certainly an interesting question, but it seems to me that we believe in a Trinitarian God. If Jews deny the divinity of Christ, not only have they rejected God’s means of salvation and his revelation in the New Testament (i.e. they no longer possess the oracles of God), but they have rejected the very nature of God himself. I am not advocating any kind of anti-Semitism; rather, I am advocating the best way in which we can show love to Jews: sharing the good news with them.

[NB: This is adapted from a note I wrote to someone about a previous discussion, in case it sounds slightly out-of-context.]

Advertisements
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: