Salvation (because of Jesus) in Other Religions?
So evidently as a blog community, we're not so interested in fasting or culture (or maybe the length of the posts threw us off). So let me change courses and try that hoary standby for us of theology.
One of our number recently asked about something that Seek takes a glancing blow towards. Namely, if the Bible teaches that Jesus is "the way, truth, life" and singular pathway to God the Father, could he be those things towards those in other religious traditions? Could there be such a thing (as I posit in my book and as our friend Carl Medearis talks about) as "Muslims who follow Jesus" who truly are not "Christians?" If so, how do we feel about that?
My friend talks about Abraham as someone redeemed by Jesus before he could have heard of Jesus, for instance.
In secular settings, this is a helpful thing to have formulated a few thoughts about, whatever your thoughts might be, because, let me tell you, it comes up. My experience has been that--along with "what's your view of homosexuality?"--the question of "are all people who don't call themselves Christians going to hell?" is the first thing that comes up.
Some friends have pointed out that this question takes on a particular energy because of the resurgence of popularity of aggressive Calvinism in some sectors of American evangelicalism. Aggressive Calvinism would have little patience for these sorts of questions and would, I think, be quick to brand those who consider them as outside the scope of orthodoxy.
Happily, the Bible (Romans 2 comes to mind) does seem more sympathetic to this question, though certainly it comes with challenges and risks.
My friend who asks the question is aggressively interested in helping people encounter a living experience with Jesus, so his upshot is by no means to abandon that--quite the reverse. And I can tell you, in our setting where we meet so very many people from around the world who've grown up in all of the major faith traditions, working with this question has been invaluable.
But what do you think? Is it possible for people outside of "Christianity" to be saved through Jesus? And is that a useful question for you to ask in your setting, or does it never really come up?