The Christian Exclusion

There is salvation in no one else! 
For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved!" 
Acts 4:12

 In a past article, [1]I wrote about the three fold choice proposed by Lewis, to which I disagreed on multiple points. Since then, I have found numerous other writers who have come to a similar conclusion on this very matter. That does not change the respect I have for him, and the multitudes of truths I have gleaned from his keen insights.
In this article I would like to examine a point of view Lewis mentioned, which caught my attention. I have to give Lewis credit for illuminating what I have since found to be a key in understanding a discrepancy that has caused much difficulty in Christianity. In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis made this remark that sent me on a thinking and study frenzy:
“Here is another thing that used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him, but in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself.”[2]
If the question was asked, “is there any other way to God/Father, other than Jesus Christ”? Most of Christianity (or at least I would assume) would reply, “no”. I believe the scripture is quite clear about this. Even Jesus’ claims about being the only way, the only method and God’s appointed or “anointed” means of salvation is evident.
Now there is the short of the matter, and long of the matter. This time I will choose the short, condensed version.
There are in my observation two differing views regarding salvation in the Christian realm. I am sure there are others, but there are two I wish to discuss. To define the last statement further, I don’t mean two ways of salvation, but two differing views regarding the Messiah, the bringer of God’s salvation.
The first view is this: Jesus came ushering in the New Covenant[3], and forever changed that which God was doing from the beginning. So much so, that all prior covenants were fulfilled, or in actuality of Christian definition, abolished. Fulfilled does not mean abolished, it actually is quite the opposite.[4] So as far as this view goes, there was the old way (under the “law” and old covenants) which only atoned for man, and then the Messiah came and inaugurated the era of grace. By following this mentality all the way through, a person today who does not know the name of Jesus is doomed. Knowing Jesus and believing on him as the Messiah is the only way.
The second view is much less popular and much simpler: there was ever only one way. It’s all one story. Redemption has been ongoing. Even before Jesus stepped foot on this earth, he was still the way. All the covenants God made with the house of Israel were pictures and shadows of things that were to come. Covenants are not destroyed. They are building blocks on which to build, or expand. When a builder begins a house, he starts by laying a foundation. When he is ready to erect the walls, he does not destroy the foundation, but builds on it, and gives new use (definition) to it. When the roof of the structure goes into place, the walls are not disassembled; they are needed more than ever. Where else would the support come from? In much the same way, God made a promise to Abraham. Abraham did not know many details (according to the record we have). What we do know, is that while the promise made to Abraham would be expanded and built upon and eventually flourish into the Messiah, “Abraham had faith in God, and it was credited to his account as righteousness."[5]
The new covenant while consummated with the Messiah in the 1st century A.D., still included Adam, Noah, Abraham, King David, and all those to follow, as the “Lamb slaughtered before the world was founded”.[6] Jesus even quotes this very thing from Jeremiah 6 where it says “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask about the ancient paths, 'Which one is the good way?' Take it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus then draws their attention to this passage by throwing out alluding phrases such as, “I am the way” and “you will find rest for your souls”.[7]
King David did not come to the Father through sacrifice,[8] or the “old covenant”, but through the redemption promised through a coming messianic figure[s].[9] The instructions and ordinances God gave were never intended to save, but were pictures of the salvation that would come. “Noah found grace [favor] in the sight of the Lord.”[10] King David died having received the promise and forgiveness through the Messiah, and never even knew Jesus’ “name”. King David did not know that Jesus was the Messiah, yet he had a relationship with God and was promised the hope of glory.
Believing on the “name” of Jesus, or the “name” of the Lord is not contingent on spelling, pronunciation or language. It is not even bound to knowing who the “anointed one” is, because that is not what “name” communicates in the scriptures. Name denotes ones reputation, what they stand for, what they represent. The Messiah is YHWH’s salvation (which what the name Yeshua/Jesus means on both levels).
If you are trusting in the God of Israel for His appointed means of atonement, that is only done through the one who was “anointed” to bring the salvation. He is the “lamb” or “sacrifice” of God.
What God does is God’s business, and it is not my place to judge who is in and who is out, but I do know that the exclusivism which modern theology has perpetrated onto the world is wrong. I am not talking about universalism, to where everyone is saved in the end, this I believe to be equally disastrous.
I cannot tell you that there are no Jews who because of what they have been taught, or because of the injustices wrought upon them by Christians over the millennia, who reject the “Christian” Jesus as Messiah on those terms will not spend eternity in the presence of the Father. I believe there are Jews who love the God of Israel with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and trust Him. There has been much destruction caused by Christians, over the name of “messiah”, and I do believe there are Jews and others, who see this picture clearer than some Christians. Many Christian circles like to draw a line long and hard on much speculation, proof texts or “layered interpretations”.
            I find it double talk to think that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, the Prophets or any other before the time of the Messiah came to the Father through another means than the Messiah. He has always been the way; he was God’s plan from the beginning, even though he had not yet “come in the flesh”.[11]
So today, to claim that it is impossible for someone to trust God’s means (the Messiah), apart from knowing (intellectually, or completely understanding) who the Messiah is (even in Christianity there is much dispute between fact and tradition), is an ignorant, arrogant and double standard. When I use the term “inclusive”, I mean that Messiah is the ONLY way, but knowing that Jesus is the Messiah is not a prerequisite. To say the opposite is to infer that salvation comes through the intellect, and is based as such. Salvation is not attained by what we know in our head (although we may very well be lead to truth by our head at times), nor our computations and grasp about God. It is as simple as believing that God has provided a way, and to trust His means, whatever that may be.
It is a heart story not a head story. Not having ones doctrinal “ducks in a row”, does not “exclude” someone from the kingdom. If it did, I am sure that would rule out the criminal that was hanging beside our Lord.
We as believers need to stop trying to focus on who is in and who is out, and leave that to God; "Child," said the Lion, "I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own."[12]

[1] C.S. Lewis’ Forced Trilemma
[2] Mere Christianity: A Revised and Amplified Edition, pg. 64
[3] Jeremiah 31, Mark 14, Luke 22, Matthew 26
[4] Matthew 5:17-19
[5] James 2, Galatians 3, Romans 4
[6] Revelation 13:8 CJB
[7] John 14, Matthew 11
[8] Psalm 40, 51, Hebrews 10
[9] It is easy to see the passages which tell about Jesus after the fact, but it was not as clear before he came. There were some interpretations that suggested more than one messiah (one priest and one king). In much the same way Elijah was expected (from Mal 3) before the “coming one”, Jesus had to tell his disciples that “Elijah had already come”. Was it exactly as they had expected?
[10] Genesis 6
[11] 1 John 4:3, 2 John 1:7 (John probably refuting the prominent teaching of Gnosticism that denied the humanity of Jesus)
[12] C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia  - The Horse And His Boy pg. 158

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