The title to this piece by Greg Koukl is actually “One Way Or Another Way? – Part One.” In part one of the two-part series, Koukl tackles the “confused confession” that many Christians make regarding Christ as savior. Their confused confession is putting the gospel itself in jeopardy, worries Koukl. The confusion Christians are experiencing is caused by people who don’t like what the Bible teaches, “so they wrangle about words and twist the text trying to get the verses to say the opposite of what they clearly mean.” As a result, “have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too Christianity.”
In this month’s issue of Solid Ground, Greg Koukl offers his view of why so many people reject biblical historic orthodox Christianity and are instead adopting different forms of “inclusivism,” including what he terms “radical inclusivism.” He writes:
Sometimes we make dealing with the current controversial features of Christianity more difficult than it actually needs to be. Here I’m talking about politically charged theological and ethical issues like abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, gender dysphoria, and the like. In one important sense they’re not hard at all; they’re easy.
Some ideas flow so naturally and directly from clear, core elements of the Christian worldview that they are not “tough” issues in a scriptural sense. The relevant texts are clear. There is no ambiguity in the Bible’s teaching. The basic doctrines informing these issues are not gray areas. They never have been.
The confusion comes almost completely from the outside, not the inside. Lots of folks—including Christians—simply don’t like what the Bible teaches, so they wrangle about words and twist the text trying to get the verses to say the opposite of what they clearly mean.
Which brings me to my present concern. I continue to be mystified by what I call the “confused confession” that many Christians make regarding Christ as savior. It goes something like this (note carefully the inflection): “I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus is my savior. He is the only way for me. But I can’t say He is the way for others.”
So, here’s my question: Does this claim strike you as unusual?
Now, there is a sense in which it’s not unusual at all. Comments like this are so common lately—not just with more secular Christians or with politicians who identify in some way with Christianity, but also with massive numbers of rank and file evangelicals—they hardly raise an eyebrow anymore. That, of course, is the appeal. It’s a clever way of both aligning with Christ (in one sense) and denying Him (in another). No one gets offended. Everyone is satisfied. Perfectly politically correct.
I want to know, though, if this statement strikes you as theologically unusual. Think of Christ’s response when He was asked a similar question at His trial: “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” He didn’t respond, “That’s true for Me, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to others.” He simply said, “I Am,” and, in virtue of that confession, was led away to execution.
Just weeks later, when facing the same ruling body that crucified Christ, Peter’s own confession was unqualified: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). When threatened, he was unmoved: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge, for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20).
There was no ambivalence or ambiguity in these ancient confessions, yet today ambivalence abounds. Indeed, it’s hard to know what such a confused confession even means coming from a Christian. In what sense can Jesus be “my savior” but not the only savior for everyone else?
This month’s Solid Ground is the first of a two-part series meant to deal with the confusion that prompts confessions like the one above. This confusion is so corrosive, it puts the gospel itself in jeopardy. Those who hold this view are not likely to suffer any inconvenience or discomfort to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20). Worse, this conviction is so theologically thin, it may not be an expression of legitimate saving faith at all.
Three possible explanations for this have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too Christianity come to mind: theological uncertainty, religious pluralism, and Christian inclusivism. (I left out “dishonesty” because I don’t want to seem completely jaundiced, though I do think that is what drives some people to make this statement, particularly politicians.) I don’t think any of these succeed, though, and I want to tell you why.