Posts Tagged ‘exclusivism’

A friend has asked me if I could tackle the whole issue of other religions – so here goes. This blog is going to be just an introduction and then over the following weeks I will look at specific religions and what I, as a Christian, believe about them.

So, let’s start at the very beginning with two definitions so that we will all, hopefully, understand what I’m talking about..

Religionthe belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power , especially a personal God or gods

Culta relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members

Definitions, can of course, be helpful but let’s not hold onto them too tightly. What one person will call a religion another may call a cult. I, for example, don’t like to think of Christianity as a religion or myself as religious. For me, Christianity is far more about relationship than religion and I feel for more spiritual than religious. For me the words religion and religious have negative connotations. For me, all the side of Christianity that has been created by man and the appalling things that have been done in the name of Christianity belong to the religious side of the faith. Christianity for me is more about a movement of people; it’s about the person of Jesus; it’s about our relationship with God. When I think about religion in connection with Christianity I think of things such as Church buildings; bells; candles, robes; guilt; control; darkness and man’s traditions. For me these things are in no way central to Christianity and some have no place whatsoever within it. So definitions can be helpful but please don’t get hung up on them or offended by my use of them.

Within Christianity there are many opinions about other religions. Ask three Christians what they believe about other faiths and you’ll get 5 opinions!! In general Christians fall into one of three camps, though the lines between these camps are a little blurred. Christians will tend to believe in either Pluralsim, Exclusivism or Inclusivism even if they don’t know it!!

Pluralism is the view that there are many, equally valid paths to God. Christianity is only one of these, and is no more superior than the others.


Exclusivism is the polar opposite of pluralism, holding that salvation is only through explicit faith in Christ.


Inclusivism holds that while Christ is the only way to salvation, people of other faiths may be saved.


So, where do I sit? Having said that Christians fall into one of three camps I would have to say that, if I had to choose, I would be in the Exclusivism camp. However, there is part of me that wonders about certain passages in the Bible that suggest that Inclusivism may have some weight.


All that is to explain that this series will be written mainly from the point of view of an Exclusivist but with some bending allowed!!


If Christianity and more importantly the teachings of the Bible are true then Christianity is true at the expense of other religions being not true. Jesus claims in the book of John that


I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me”


If this statement is to be understood correctly then it makes Christianity pretty exclusive. Equally in Deuteronomy we read that


the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.”


These aren’t wishy washy ideas but statements that are meant to be taken as fact! To me the Bible is pretty clear that the God of the Bible is the only God and any other god (note the small g) is a man-made creation. I believe that either the Bible is true and there is one one God – the one portrayed in the Bible or the Bible is not true. I cannot see how you can believe that the teaching of the Bible allows the possibility of other Gods (note capital G) existing. This is not always a popular view in today’s society as the concept of ultimate truth has been thrown out the window and has been replaced with relativism where I can believe one thing my friend can believe the opposite and we can both be right. For me this holds no weight!! When looking at religion either Christianity is true and other religions false, another religion true and all the rest false or all religions false. Two plus two can’t equal four, six, 9.5 and seventy three. Some things can seem opposing and yet both be true, but not in the case of Christianity. Just as when it comes to either He exists or he doesn’t exist – both cannot be true God cannot exist and not exist!


Next week we’ll start to look at some major religions and I’ll try and give a Christian view of it’s beliefs.