I have been called prideful, arrogant, an exclusivist along the way. While I do not embrace them, they have all been true at times, but oddly enough usually NOT when I’m accused of them. Usually (and it’s really not often, so I’m no martyr here) the claims / accusations come from either a pluralist who is simply a secular humanist or a pluralist who claims to be clergy. I readily admit all of them, hating the first two, but not shying away from the “exclusivist” claim.
Recently, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a study that concludes 57% of Evangelicals and 70% of all religions claim it is either possible or likely that there is more than one way to heaven (other than Christ). You can read the articles in TIME or at FoxNews.com.
The more staggering percentage is the Evangelical number of 57%. Over the years, the term “evangelical” has been under scrutiny and difficult to define. Wikipedia.com (perhaps the largest online encyclopedia) defines Evangelicalism as “a theological perspective, most closely associated with Protestant Christianity, which identifies with the gospel. Although evangelicalism has been defined in a number of ways, most adherents consider belief in the need for personal conversion (or being “born again“), some expression of the gospel through evangelism, a high regard for Biblical authority, and an emphasis on the death and resurrection of Jesus to be key characteristics..”
Others have made the definition even more broad by simply saying it is a theological perspective that holds to any claims of Christ, which makes it even more of a smorgasbord of beliefs, mainly because people have a tendency to say what they believe Jesus must have meant, rather than what He actually said or claimed.
This is why we must hold fast to the authority of Scripture. It is scripture that holds the gospel and only scripture. While you might see a general revelation of the Creator God while looking at a tree (Romans 1:20), NO ONE (Rom.3) will, without the revelation of the gospel in the scriptures, naturally look at a tree, envision a cross, be convicted of sin, assured of Christ’s atoning work and repent and be saved. It is the propositional truth of scripture that will boldly move and resurrect the spiritually dead (Rom.1:16).
Now, we cannot really change other churches, but we can continue to boldly hold to absolute truth and the exclusive claims of Christ (John 14:6). We must do so with gentleness and respect, but that does not mean a tolerance that leads to adherence to the “path” that others have chosen for salvation. Remember, it is by grace you yourself have been saved (Eph.2:8,9). There is no room for boasting, so our presentation of the gospel must be gentle and bold, aggressive and respectful. Look, in our teaching we make it plain that God alone saves in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit. We are just agents. However, if we love the gospel, we will joyfully participate in that glorious proclamation, because when one comes to Christ, God is glorified. But we will also know that even if we do NOT see one come to Christ, there is glory in the proclamation itself.