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Christianity TodayOctoberOctober 2005

Other ReligionsOther Religions O



Salvation sans Jesus
"The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration" states that sincere worshipers of other religions will not be saved—does that also refer to Moses and other Old Testament faithful? —Ty Conley, Salem, Oregon

The cited document, under "Affirmations and Denials," No. 4, states: "The Bible offers no hope that sincere worshipers of other religions will be saved without personal faith in Jesus Christ."

The direct answer to the reader's question is no. The words quoted speak only of our own era, the almost two millennia since our Lord Jesus Christ lived, died, rose, and ascended. Moses appears in Hebrews 11:24-29 as a hero of faith, along with Abel, Enoch, Noah, the patriarchs, his own parents, and others. These Old Testament believers, so we read, looked for "a better country, that is, a heavenly one … a better life" (vs. 16, 35), which God had planned for them with us (v. 40). They trusted God's promises, which included indicators of the coming Christ, and their faith now stands as a model for us all. I, for one, expect to meet them in the world to come.

This question, however, reflects deep-rooted concern about sincere adherents of non-Christian faiths today. At a time when Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims, along with our Jewish friends, work beside us each day, something would be very wrong with us if we did not feel such concern.

The first thing to say, and with emphasis, is that beyond the stark factual statement ("the Bible offers no hope"), all is speculation. The stark statement is certainly correct. The New Testament, exegeted rationally and without reading into it what cannot be read out of it, tells us that the Christian faith is true for everybody, and that all need God's forgiveness and rescue from the power of sin and Satan. All are called to turn to Jesus Christ and so become God's adopted children, and eternal life comes only to those who do this.

Also, it tells us that on a coming day of judgment God will "render ...

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