Religious Pluralism & Universalism – Part I

  • One of the most common beliefs in our Post-Christian culture today is the idea that all religions lead to God, one path is as good as another, and ultimately everyone will be saved.
  • As Christians, however, we affirm the biblical truth that Jesus alone is the way to salvation. How can we defend this truth in the face of widespread criticism and opposition? First, we must be clear on what the Bible teaches and we must be able to explain the biblical position in a loving and helpful way to non-believers.
  • A helpful way to introduce the biblical position on salvation is to affirm the truth that God is ultimately going to treat all people with perfect fairness, justice, and love (1 Timothy 2:1-5; 2 Peter 3:9; Deuteronomy 32:3-4). People need to understand that God’s heart is for people to be saved and nobody is going to be unfairly treated by God.
  • We must then be clear on the fact that Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-3). So, if a person wants to know and understand God most clearly, they must look to Jesus Christ.
  • Not only is Jesus the ultimate revelation of God, but people must also understand that there is no other way to be saved apart from his sacrificial death on the cross (John 14:6; John 3:16-18; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Colossians 1:19-22). The Bible does not affirm multiple paths to God; salvation comes through Christ alone.
  • It is also essential that we clearly and lovingly explain that the Bible unambiguously declares that not all people will be saved to eternal life with God (Matthew 7:13-14; Matthew 22:2-14; Luke 13:22-28; Romans 9:27). Universalism may be an attractive idea, but it is certainly not a biblical one.
  • Lastly, we cannot shy away from making sure people know the reality and nature of the eternal punishment that awaits those who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:27; Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:11-15; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Hell is real, we must affirm this and warn people of it; and when we do speak of Hell with non-believers, as Francis Schaeffer would say, “We must do so with tears”.
  • As followers of Jesus Christ we remain under the mandate of the Great commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:1-5). Thus, while the biblical position on salvation may not be popular in today’s Post-Christian culture, we must remain faithful in declaring this critical message God has entrusted to us.

For more information on this topic please see Jason Carlson’s DVD lecture titled, Salvation: Is there really just 1 way? available in our online store.