Is salvation through Jesus alone? This is a question that many religious people struggle with. There are verses in the Bible that seem to clearly state that there is no salvation for atheists, Jews, and others. Many people have been taught this way of thinking in Sunday school or have heard it from the church pew. Many a child and even an adult have been troubled by the thought of disbelieving loved ones struggling in the fires of hell.
Some people even leave Christianity because of this or grow up with a distorted picture of God. A loving God does not seem the type would burn people in the eternal fire for not loving him back. Thinking of God this way can make a person depressed, anxious, and upset. It seems to contradict the compassionate words of Jesus in the Bible. Many people see something very, very wrong with the logic that God would send ordinary people to hell because they had the “wrong” beliefs.
Many Christian churches teach this doctrine. However, upon examination, their case falls apart. The next time you hear someone talking about how important it is to “accept Jesus as your personal savior” so you don’t go to hell, try this.
Ask the born again Christian if salvation is through Jesus alone.
He or she will assure you that it is, perhaps pointing to a bible verse or two.
Then paint this scenario. A six-month-old baby dies. Where does he go? Most people believe that babies have souls, but a child that young could not possibly have put faith in Jesus, or any other God for that matter.
99.9% of the time, the Christian will say that the baby goes to Heaven. They will cite some reason such as the fact that a child is innocent, Jesus provides for this, etc. The bottom line is- if God is good and just, he would provide an exception.
At this point, we have come to see that even fundamentalist Christians do not believe that salvation is won only by professing Christ. There are, obviously, exceptions to this rule. So where do the exceptions end?
Let’s take the next step in logic. If a baby can go to heaven without accepting Jesus, what about someone who has never heard the gospel? We have just reasoned that a child can go to heaven without believing in God, thus proving that Heaven is not only for professed Christians. Once that is admitted, the whole house of cards falls down. We can infer that a person who lives out her life never hearing about Jesus is as innocent as a baby in the respect that she never had the opportunity to reject Christianity.
Now let’s take it one step further. What about a person who is raised in a religion such as Judaism or Islam? They may have a passing knowledge of Christianity, but would they be faulted for being faithful to their own religion? Statistics show that most people stay faithful to the religion they were raised in if they don’t fall away from religion entirely.
Jesus himself said that God is love.
A loving God would want everyone to go to heaven. Therefore, if Christianity is true, he would have to provide a way of salvation that is attainable for everyone, not just those who were raised in Christian homes or exposed to certain Christian preachers. Everyone’s life experiences are different; therefore, justice demands that everyone is held accountable on an individual basis. Anything else would be unworthy of a loving God.
Anyone with a grade school education in biology knows that the bible is not literally true- the world is not 4,000 years old, we know it wasn’t created in seven days, etc. Does this mean that the Bible is false and cannot be trusted? It need not. Perhaps the writers of the Old Testament were merely writing with the limited amount of knowledge that they had. Other parts of the bible can only be understood in the context of the time period and society in which they were written. Passages that support slavery or say that men should always rule over women are rightly taken with a grain of salt in the 21st century. The handful of verses that indicate one must be Christian to go to heaven should be taken the same way, as we have seen that they conflict with the character of a loving God.