Conclusions from the Christian Scriptures
The Christian Scriptures teach a number of conflicting methods by which one
can be saved:
||The synoptic Gospels teach that salvation is achieved by doing good works:
helping the poor, visiting people in jail, supporting the ill, giving up ones possessions
and following Jesus, etc.
||The synoptic gospels appear to make provision for a path by which
Christians or non-Christians can be saved. They must follow a
lifetime of service to humanity.
||The Gospel of John teaches that salvation comes as a result of one's faith in
Jesus as Son of God
||St. Paul's writings teach that salvation may have been once attained by strictly
following Jewish law. However, since Christ's ministry, it is dependent
upon one's faith in the saving power of Jesus' death and resurrection.
Implications of this diversity of teaching:
||The fate of the unsaved: There appears to be no allowance in the Gospel of John or in the writings of St. Paul
for individuals who were born in the wrong place or the wrong time. These are people who
lived in areas of the world which have not been exposed to the Christian message. Or
perhaps they were born at a time when the Gospel had not reached their locale.
Or perhaps they were exposed to the Gospel by an incompetent Christian who
failed to communicate it fully. Many
passages in the Bible imply that such individuals will be lumped together with those who
had fully heard and subsequently ejected Christ's message. They would remain unsaved and will spend eternity
in Hell, because salvation is only through faith in Christ.|
||The need to settle on a single path to salvation: One method of
extracting a single method of salvation from the diversity of paths in the
Christian Scriptures is to select a small group of consistent biblical
passages. These are then interpreted literally, emphasized, and continually
repeated. Conflicting passages are ignored, de-emphasized and/or interpreted
symbolically. This is the technique used by most faith groups. Unfortunately,
they often select different key passages, and thus come to different
conclusions about the path to salvation. |
||Those Christian denominations which believe in salvation by faith only,
and a literal Hell of eternal punishment are
faced with a serious and growing conflict:
||It is difficult for them to continue with the traditional belief in that
non-Christians will be sent to eternal punishment in Hell:
||A growing percentage of people believe that
this is incompatible with the concept of a loving God and elementary justice. They ask how
a person in India or Africa who has never heard of Christ or of Christianity be tortured
for eternity, mainly because they were born into and lived in the wrong part of the world.
||Many people believe that a punishment of infinite duration is an
unreasonable response to a single case of bad religious judgment.
||The world's secular and religious systems of morality condemn the
torture of prisoners. Countries that routinely do this, notably China, are
considered pariah nations. Yet, this is what the Bible teaches is the fate
of those imprisoned in Hell.
||Modern systems of morality also condemn the imprisonment of persons
because of thought crimes. But the Gospel of John and writings of Paul
appear to do this. They teach that one is only saved after believing in
||On the other hand, it is difficult to devise an alternative path from
their main biblical texts whereby such
non-Christians can be saved, without reducing the significance of Jesus' incarnation, death
Several alternatives have been suggested. However, there is
little or no support for them in the Bible.
Copyright © 1997 to 2002 incl. by
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2002-DEC-29
Author: B.A. Robinson