The author, Dennis Hollinger, cites the large percentages of American Christians who support unorthodox views regarding salvation:
"Among all Americans who are affiliated with a religion, 52 percent believe that Islam leads to eternal life with God, 53 percent believe that Hinduism leads to God, and 42 percent even believe that atheism leads to God."In his conclusions he offers the following,
"The growing number of Christians who are troubled by Jesus’ claims to be the single course of salvation indicates how much the world has come to live in us as we attempt to live in the world. We easily allow the push and pull of our culture to define our beliefs, commitments, and way of life, even while giving lip service to the name of Jesus. Perhaps the Pew Forum poll will be a wake-up call as to how much Christians have allowed the world to shape their sentiments."I think that is an excellent observation. As much as people would like to tell you that they have come to this belief on their own, in all likelihood the current world view is what shapes their reason.
"Affirming the uniqueness of Christ for salvation and eternal life does not, of course, answer all our questions. There is much that God has not told us about the mysteries of life, death, and eternity. We naturally wonder what happens to those who never have an opportunity to embrace Christ. To such quandaries we must simply trust in a Savior who is both loving and just, and whose understandings are far beyond ours. We must acknowledge that from Scripture we know relatively little about heaven and hell. What we do know is that Jesus, the apostles, and the historic Church in all its variations have affirmed that Jesus is the only true way to God. And it only makes sense that if a person didn’t want Jesus as Savior and Lord on this earth, they would hardly want to spend eternity with Him."There is a question Christians commonly face from non-believers (and increasingly from believers), "What about the poor guy in China who never heard the Gospel?" The old answer, "He is going to Hell" does not fly in today's pluralistic society. I myself pray that Jesus will reach out to those who did not get to hear His voice in this lifetime, but while we might answer that we don't know exactly what will happen to them, we can say with confidence what will happen to those who do accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and that is why it is so important to spread the good news of the Gospel to those who might not have heard it in this lifetime. How to do this without turning people away from Christ is the challenge for individuals and the Church.
"To affirm the uniqueness of Christ for salvation is not cause for arrogance and boasting. In fact scripturally it is exactly the opposite. Our salvation has nothing to do with our attainments, efforts, and native beliefs. In salvation we do not find God through our own ingenuity. Rather, God finds us as we respond to his loving mercy in Christ as evidenced on the cross. The embrace of Christ as savior and Lord can never be touted as cause for human triumph, smugness, or self-assertion. It is not a sign of our superiority, or cause for triumphalistic efforts in society.So what are we afraid of when faced with the possibility of having to express an opinion as to the uniqueness of Christ for salvation? Is it our general lack of confidence in our ability to communicate it as well as Dennis Hollinger, or is it our lack of confidence in the Gospel itself, or is it fear of retribution from an increasingly hostile world?
The uniqueness of Christ is a sign that the triune God of the universe cares so deeply for his wayward creatures that he mercifully provided a path to forgiveness, a way to the Father’s embrace. It is in the Father’s embrace through Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that we come to realize that we can never pull the Triune God apart. For indeed to know Christ is to know the Father, and to know the Father is to know the Spirit, who enables us to stay true to the One Savior in the midst of a pluralistic world." Dennis Hollinger was appointed in 2008 as President and Professor of Christian Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, headquartered in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. He is a member of the C.S. Lewis Institute Board of Directors. Dennis and his wife, Mary Ann, have two adult daughters.