A Reformation Meditation Series on Solus Christus: Attack on the Exclusivity of Christ (3/4)

A Reformation Meditation Series on Solus Christus: Attack on the Exclusivity of Christ (3/4)

 (This is the third installment of a four-part Reformation meditation series on Solus Christus. The first part can be read  here  and the second part  here .)

(This is the third installment of a four-part Reformation meditation series on Solus Christus. The first part can be read here and the second part here.)

by Corey McLaughlin

Solus Christus Now

Today, both aspects of Christ alone, His exclusivity and His sufficiency, are being attacked from without and within.  In honor of the 2000th anniversary of the Apostle Paul’s birthday (Feb. 9, 2009, evidently), the Catholic church decreed plenary indulgences once again.[i]  So, after attending mass and receiving grace through the sacraments, confessing your sins to a Priest and being absolved under the condition of performing penance (a few Hail Marys or Our Fathers ought to do), you can now earn something more than the typical partial indulgence which only scratches mere days or years off purgatory, instead you can earn (not buy, though contributions are looked upon as favorable) for yourself or others, a full, complete, hence “plenary,” absolution thus skipping purgatory all together!  Well, the plenary indulgence is only effective until another sin is committed so better keep this on the top of the grocery list, don’t want to run out!  Also, there is a limit of one per sinner per day (no, that’s not a joke).[ii]     

Other distortions can be seen by asking the question, “Is Jesus Christ the only Savior?”  The three most common answers are, “No.”, “Yes.  Period.” And “Yes, but…”[iii]

Is Jesus Christ the only Savior?  NO! 

Those that say, “No,” often follow up with some statement explaining how “all religious paths lead up the same mountain.”  This false teaching, called pluralism, then affirms that everyone is right and no one is wrong in their beliefs.  Of course, this is known in logic as cutting off the branch that you are sitting on.  If every religion is right, and Christianity claims that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone and no other, then Christianity is right too, which means all religions are categorically false.  Not exactly the conclusion they are going for![iv]  That does not stop liberal denominations from trying, however.   

In 2006, the liberal World Council of Churches gathered and one speaker confidently called upon the churches to lead their members “out of our frozen, ossified, petrified churches.”  He warned, “We cannot confine the economy, practice, activity, and saving action of Jesus Christ within the church.”[v] At the assembly, inter-faith worship services encouraged representatives to pray to their god, and prayers to Allah, the Lord Krishna, Siddhartha Buddha, and the Goddess Gaia all wafted up in chaotic cacophony. 

It was no surprise then when a few years later the PCUSA, a leading denomination in the World Council of Churches, rejected the modern contemporary classic hymn In Christ Alone, by Keith Getty and Stuart Towend.[vi]  They requested copy write permission to change a key lyric from the original (“Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied”) to something more palpable to their tastes that removed any sense that God might possibly be angry at sin (“Till on that cross as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified”).  More surpassing was where they got the idea from; a Southern Baptist Hymnal that made the changes years earlier without permission.[vii]    

H.R. Niebuhr was right when he famously said that liberalism proclaims, “a God without wrath who brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”[viii]

Is Jesus Christ the only Savior?  YES! 

Evangelical Christians, on the other hand, cry out, “Yes. Period.”  This is Solus Christus and with it we sing, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”[ix]  The original published title to that familiar hymn was, “The Immutable Basis For A Sinner’s Hope.”[x]  Human hearts change.  Our will, our emotions, our intentions fluctuate from day to day.  We are both malleable and mutable in that respect, but “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8); the only sure foundation for redemption.           

Is Jesus Christ the only Savior?  YES…but!  The Problem With William P. Young & The Shack: 

But, a growing number of those who identify themselves as Christian now answer, “Yes, but…”  Here both the sufficiency of Christ and the exclusivity of Christ are twisted and distorted into an entirely new shape not found anywhere in the New Testament.  Most recently this attack has come subtly from William P. Young’s widely popular book and movie by the same title, The Shack.  While many Christians across the nation embrace the emotional appeal of Young’s work, especially powerful for those that have lost a loved one, discerning Christians will not allow their heart strings to be pulled into an abyss of muddied distortion concerning the nature of the Triune Godhead.[xi]  As it relates to solus Christus Christians should be warned as well.  In The Shack Jesus tells Mac, the main character, “I’m not a Christian.”[xii]  When speaking about all those who come to him Jesus says, “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved.”[xiii] If Jesus has no desire to make anyone Christian than the logical conclusion is that they can stay as they are and still be saved.  This is exactly what William P. Young believes. 

In his full onslaught attack against historic Christianity, Lies We Believe, his most recent published work, Young lists 28 lies we believe about God and seeks to refute them.  In chapter 13 the “lie” that Young believes he needs to overturn is, “You need to get saved.”  He explains here that the Gospel has nothing to do with receiving or submitting to Christ, but that Christ’s redemption is so expansive that everyone, everywhere is saved and “whether you believe it or not won’t make it any less or more true.”[xiv]  This is a tricky universalism because it does not say Christ is one way among many (pluralism), but that Jesus Christ really is the only way, that there really is no other name under heaven, and therefore that all people in all places in all time in all religions will be saved because of Jesus’ atoning work whether they want to or not….at least…eventually (even if they must endure some portion of time in hell).[xv]  This is a poisoned view of Solus Christus, that excludes completely the need for sola fide (faith alone) as an explicit confession by which one receives the work of Christ into their life (Rom. 10:9).[xvi]        

Is Jesus Christ the only Savior?  YES…but!  The Problem With Billy Graham: 

William P. Young is not the only one to do this mind you.  Billy Graham, while not heretical by any means, also distorts Solus Christus in no uncertain terms.  In a 1997 interview with Robert Schuller on The Hour of Power, Graham said, “I think everybody that loves Christ and knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ…They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven.”[xvii]  This is called the “anonymous Christian” view which was developed by Catholic scholar Karl Rahner, accepted into the Catholic Catechism, and promoted most recently by Pope Francis.[xviii]  This view, a step back from Young, but no less heterodox in its distortion of the sufficiency of Christ, applies the work of Christ to those who do not even confess His name.  Those concerned about the heathen in a faraway country who have no access to the Bible and therefore to the message of Jesus ought rather to heed Christ’s command to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth for this very reason!  Instead, this view nullifies Paul’s words “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14)

As a side note, one can also look to the Middle East to hear of many Muslims coming to Christ not because of traditional evangelism or missions, but driven to Christ through dreams and full-blown visions.[xix]  Christ does not leave himself without witness.  This should not be completely surprising, Jesus did say after all, “…I lay down My life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn. 10:16).  Thus, there is no need for an unconscious view of faith in Christ since He will reveal himself to his sheep one way or another.           

Is Jesus Christ the only Savior?  YES…but!  The Problem With C.S. Lewis: 

C.S. Lewis, like Graham held a more inclusive view of salvation, a view that he expounds both in his classic work Mere Christianity,[xx] as well as The Great Divorce, and through his fantasy novel The Chronicles of Narnia.  Lewis’ works are deeply valuable in many respects and should be studied thoroughly, I believe, by all Christians, at the same time the Christian is nonetheless called to read with a discerning eye.[xxi]   

The first tipoff that Lewis’ Christianity is a bit too mere is the house metaphor in the preface to Mere Christianity in which he portrays various denominations as rooms in the house, but then includes in that analogy the Roman Catholic church as just another room (even though they patently deny justification by faith alone and hence the Gospel!).[xxii]  The second is more explicit,

“There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand. There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points.”[xxiii]

In other words, someone could be sincerely worshipping Christ even though in name, they call him Buddha, and in practice they seek to follow Buddha, and the intent of their heart is to please Buddha.  Nonetheless what they offer to Buddha is really an offering to Christ and one in which Christ accepts and credits them faith in Him in return.    

This same perspective creeps into The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Last Battle as well.  Lewis’ inclusivism can be seen in the perspective of Emeth the Calormene solider.  Emeth’s name means “faithful” in Hebrew and he has faithfully served the god Tash (depicted as a violent and evil bird like god with many arms) his whole life and denied, even hated, Aslan.  Now, he meets Aslan and asks him a crucial question:

“‘Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?’ The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, ‘It is false.’

Notice how Lewis denies pluralism, the two are not the same, but continues on to affirm anonymous Christian inclusivism as long as the practitioner is sincere and living according to the spirit of Aslan. 

Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites — I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore, if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.”[xxiv]

In such a case then how is Christ really unique or different?  How is the claim to salvation in anyway truly exclusively in Him?  After Jesus cured a blind man He asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  The man rightly responded, “Who is He, Sir? Tell me so that I may believe in Him” (Jn. 9:36).[xxv]  We can only conclude, unconscious belief is no belief at all.    

The Great Divorce is about something more than just an anonymous Christian, but about second chances after death.  Lewis envisions a bus that leaves Hell and is heading to Heaven.  Once there those that want to stay may, and those that want to go back to misery are welcome to leave.  One by one people find a reason to board the bus heading back to Hell leading to the insightful truth Lewis recorded elsewhere that, “the doors of Hell are locked on the inside.”[xxvi]  This of course makes the doctrine of Hell a bit more palpable and helps explain that God does not “send” anyone to Hell per se, they choose it of their own free and stubborn will. 

In another scene, Lewis nonetheless hints that there may still be hope for these cantankerous souls.  He queries his heavenly guide “MacDonald,” about the final fate of the damned asking, “Then no one can ever reach them?”  MacDonald is clear, “Only the Greatest of all can make Himself small enough to enter Hell…Only one has descended into Hell.”  Lewis wonders if “the Greatest” as Christ is called, will ever do so again?  MacDonald’s answer is philosophical and concerns how we see time versus how God sees time essentially arguing, so it seems, that the biblical declaration that Christ preached to spirits in prison (1 Pet. 3:19) was not a past event per se, but a reality that existed outside of time and therefore one that everyone who dies may benefit from (i.e. a second chance).[xxvii]  At least, that seems the implication.  MacDonald is quick to remind Lewis that such questions belong to God and should not be asked.  Incidentally, George MacDonald was a literature hero of Lewis’ and a universalist, so the character’s name, “MacDonald,” is no coincidence.        

Someone arguably more orthodox than C.S. Lewis, but largely ridiculed was mega Church pastor Rob Bell who presented the agnostic case in his book, Love Wins.[xxviii]  Here Bell argued that we just do not ultimately know the fate of all unbelievers and should not be quick to therefore condemn people like Gandhi as automatically going to hell (i.e. anonymous Christian view again).[xxix]

Be warned, dear reader, the Catholic teaching of the anonymous Christian works well within Roman Catholic dogma which already undermines or distorts the sufficiency of Christ at every level, but it has no place in an Evangelical theology that basis its claims and final authority on the Word of God (sola scriptura).      

Is Jesus Christ the only Savior?  YES…but!  The Problem With John Haggee: 

John Haggee, famed prophecy teacher who herald apocalyptic warnings on the eve of the blood moons, has a large following.  Much is made for his support of Israel and successful attempts to form a bridge to the Jews.  Yet few seem to care that in all his interaction with the Jewish people he refuses to bring them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, evidently because he believes that all Jewish people will be saved under the Old Covenant without any need for explicit faith in Christ as the Messiah.[xxx] He would then agree with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who released a document in 2002 entitled, “Reflections on Covenant and Mission,” affirming that “Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God” (p.7).  This is a yet another corruptible twisting of Solus Christus.

Solus Christus Conclusion: 

Alas, we are compelled to stand with Luther,

Since our opponents will not let it stand that only faith in Christ justifies [and we might add, explicit conscious faith], we will not yield to them. On the question of justification, we must remain adamant, or else we shall lose the truth of the Gospel. It is a matter of life and death. It involves the death of the Son of God, who died for the sins of the world. If we surrender faith in Christ, as the only thing that can justify us, the death and resurrection of Jesus are without meaning; that Christ is the Savior of the world would be a myth. God would be a liar, because He would not have fulfilled His promises. Our stubbornness is right, because we want to preserve the liberty which we have in Christ. Only by preserving our liberty shall we be able to retain the truth of the Gospel inviolate.[xxxi]

 

 

Next WeekSolus Christus – A Reformation Meditation Part 4: 

Inadvertent Attacks By The Church?

 

 

 

[i] Christ Alone:  Why indulgences are still a bad idea at Christianity Today, 2009.  While indulgences have remained a part of the church’s official teaching, they were de-emphasized in the 1960’s during the Second Vatican Council.   

[ii] For Catholics, A Door To Absolution Is Reopened at nytimes.com.

[iii] This is the summary formulation given by Ronald Nash in the preface to his book, Is Jesus The Only Savior?  For an overview of how he tackles the two philosophical systems of pluralism and inclusivism see Is Jesus The Only Savior? At equip.org (accessed 3/15/2017).  

[iv] This is the law of non-contradiction which says two different things cannot both be the same and not the same in the exact same way at the exact same time. 

[v] This summary pdf outlines many abuses of the PCUSA church in respect to biblical doctrine.

[vi] For a great interview and overview of the issue see The Gospel Coalition Article, Keith Getty On What Makes ‘In Christ Alone’ Accepted and Contested

[vii] Celebrating Grace Hymnal published in 2010.  No explanation has been offered as to the reason for the illegal change or who made the change in the first place.  Timothy George, a Baptist professor explains further, “The full New Testament teaching about the cross involves both expiation, which means providing a covering for sin, and propitiation, which means averting divine judgment,” he wrote. “The semantic range of the Greek words hilasmos/hilasterion includes both meanings. That is why the wrath of God cannot be brushed out of the story without remainder.” Ironically, the original lyrics penned by Getty and Towend are more in line with historic PCUSA teaching but this is ignored in order to further the PCUSA liberal agenda (e.g. see The Book Of Confessions chp. VI par. 6.036, chp. VIII par. 6.047).  

[viii] The Kingdom of God in America, 1988: 193.   

[ix] Edward Mote, My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less.  This song also inspired the modern classic “In Christ Alone,” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend as well as Hillsongs “Cornerstone.”  At the age of 55, after years as a cabinet maker, Mote became a pastor and served for 26 years at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Horsham.  The church actually offered him the deed to their property to which Mote replied, “I do not want the chapel. I only want the pulpit, and when I cease to preach Christ, then turn me out of that” (101 More Hymn Stories, Part 2, Kenneth W. Osbeck, #275). 

[x] Glory to God:  A Companion by Carl P. Jr. Draw, #353 on p. 359.  Mote’s original unpublished title was “The Gracious Experience of a Christian.”  The first person to hear the stanzas was a friend’s wife who lay ill.  Mote brought the words to her and sang them at her bedside.       

[xi] There is too much here to comment on, but Hank Hanegraaff, The Bible Answer Man, says it well, “I must confess that Young’s stereotypical characterization of the Father as a “large beaming African-American woman,” the Son as a Jew with a large nose, and the Holy Spirit as a mysterious Asian female makes me more than a little queasy.”  He goes on to point out that every theological heresy begins with a misconception of the nature of God.  At one point Young portrays God the Father bearing the scars of crucifixion.  In another section Young explains that ‘Jesus has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything.’”  For more see How Should A Christian Think About The Shack (accessed 3/16/2017).

[xii] The Shack, 180–82; cf. 115–27.  In context, Young is trying to make the point that Jesus does not fit into our theological box, so to speak.  He handles it as Lie #5 in his book Lies We Believe About God as well and on his blog.  It’s a good point and a necessary one, but read as a whole it becomes very clear that this Jesus is also not the Jesus of the Bible either.  

[xiii] The Shack, 180–82; cf. 115–27.  Mac then asks, “Does that mean that all roads will lead to you?”  Young is not a pluralist, yet he does not believe that one must have conscious, explicit faith in Jesus to be saved either so he dodges the question, “Jesus smiled as he reached for the door handle to the shop.  “Most roads don’t lead anywhere.  What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.””  For a larger treatment see Albert Mohler, The Shack – The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment (accessed 3/16/2017).  He rightly comments, “The answer is not to ban The Shack or yank it out of the hands of readers. We need not fear books — we must be ready to answer them. We desperately need a theological recovery that can only come from practicing biblical discernment.”   

[xiv] P. 118.  He then writes, “Are you suggesting that everyone is saved?  That you believe in universal salvation?  That is exactly what I am saying!  Here’s the truth: every person who has ever been conceived was included in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. When Jesus was lifted up, God “dragged” all human beings to Himself (John 12: 32). Jesus is the Savior of all humankind, especially believers (1 Timothy 4: 10). Further, every single human being is in Christ (John 1: 3), and Christ is in them, and Christ is in the Father (John 14: 20). When Christ—the Creator in whom the cosmos was created—died, we all died. When Christ rose, we rose (2 Corinthians 5).”  In chapter 15 on Hell he states, “I propose the possibility that hell is not separation from Jesus, but that it is the pain of resisting our salvation in Jesus while not being able to escape Him who is True Love.”

[xv] This view is called universal reconciliation.  Young would describe his view as “hopeful universalism,” in that he hopes God will extend the invitation for all to love and worship Jesus even after they have been sentenced to hell.  For a helpful break down of the history and tactics of universalism see Will All Be Saved? Vol. 28, Issue 2 in Themelios.

[xvi] For a full detailed treatment of everything wrong with the theology of The Shack see Robert Olsson’s, Finding God In The Shack:  Seeking Truth In A Story Of Evil and Redemption.

[xvii] Billy Graham Denies Jesus Is The Only Way To The Father (accessed 3/16/2017).  Note, he is not denying the exclusivity of Jesus as the YouTube title states, he is actually promoting the anonymous Christian view discussed below in n. 50 below.

[xviii] Karl Rahner explains, "Anonymous Christianity means that a person lives in the grace of God and attains salvation outside of explicitly constituted Christianity… Let us say, a Buddhist monk… who, because he follows his conscience, attains salvation and lives in the grace of God; of him I must say that he is an anonymous Christian; if not, I would have to presuppose that there is a genuine path to salvation that really attains that goal, but that simply has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. But I cannot do that. And so, if I hold if everyone depends upon Jesus Christ for salvation, and if at the same time I hold that many live in the world who have not expressly recognized Jesus Christ, then there remains in my opinion nothing else but to take up this postulate of an anonymous Christianity" (Karl Rahner in Dialogue, p. 35, quoted in Christian Thought:  A Historical Introduction, 480).  

This is consistent with teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which says, “Those who no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation” (New York: Doubleday, 1995, #847).  

In a sermon on Mark 9:38-40 Pope Francis received shock when he appeared to affirm this same view:  “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”.. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”  We should note that there is a minority view from the Society of St. Pius X which has fought against the rising tide of liberalism in the Catholic Church.  They say the theory of anonymous Christianity "is a very grave doctrinal error because it declares personal justification as being already realized for every man without any participation of his will or free choice and, so, without any need of his conversion, faith, baptism or works. Redemption is guaranteed to all, as if sanctifying grace were ontologically present in each man just because he is man” (Errors of Vatican II Society of St Pius X, Australian District. Si Si No No May 2003 No. 52, par. 5, “Errors Concerning the ‘Incarnation,’ ‘Redemption/and the ‘Idea of Man’”).

[xix] There are many testimonies online, but for a full testimony of someone who was driven to Christ via a series of dreams see Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi.

[xx] For a better formulation of true mere Protestant Christianity see Kevin Vanhoozer’s recent work, Biblical Authority After Babel:  Retrieving The Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity.

[xxi] In a 2010 sermon John Piper explains many problems with C.S. Lewis listing six in particular he finds problematic:  (1) he was not an inerrantist; (2) he viewed the Protestant Reformation as avoidable; (3) he remained in the Church of England, despite his largely Protestant beliefs; (4) he allowed for “at least some people to be saved through imperfect representations of Christ in other religions”; (5) he used an “unbiblical case for free will” in order to explain suffering; and (6) he gave little attention to the doctrine of atonement (Lessons from an Inconsolable Soul).  Still Piper sees value in Lewis when used properly especially as it relates to his conceptions of joy and truth.

[xxii] This is a bit strange since Lewis does know and understand the Protestant Gospel and can articulate it masterfully and beautifully.  In his introduction to English Literature in the Sixteen Century he says, “On the Protestant view one could not, and by God’s mercy, need not expiate one’s sins… Like an accepted lover, he feels that he has done nothing, and never could have done anything to deserve such astonishing happiness…. All the initiative has been on God’s side, all has been free, unbounded grace. His own puny and ridiculous efforts would be as helpless to retain the joy as they would have been to achieve it in the first place… Bliss is not for sale, cannot be earned, “Works” have no “merit,” though of course faith, inevitably, even unconsciously, flows out into works of love at once. He is not saved because he does works of love; he does works of love because he is saved. It is faith alone that has saved him; faith bestowed by sheer gift.  From this buoyant humility, this farewell to the self with all its good resolutions, anxiety, scruples, and motive-scratching, all the Protestant doctrines originally sprang.” (Quotable Lewis p. 498 #1252).

[xxiii] Emphasis mine.  Mere Christianity Revised 2001: 209.

[xxiv] Chronicles Of Narnia, The Last Battle 206 (emphasis mine).

[xxv] The typical exceptions to this rule are babies and the mentally handicap.  But even here, faith is required and must be born of the Spirit, let us remember, even John the Baptist lept in the womb as he was filled with the Spirit.  Others prefer the notion of the age of accountability instead.  Certainly there is greater room for debate here than overturning explicit commands in Scripture to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth and make Christ known that all who desire may put their trust in Him.     

[xxvi] The quote itself comes from his book The Problem of Pain (p. 81) but captures his concept in The Great Divorce as well.  For a helpful analysis on Lewis’ view on Hell Chapter 7 of The Problem of Pain as well as discovery.org, Seeing Hell Through The Reason and Imagination of C.S. Lewis.  

[xxvii] The Great Divorce Chp. 13 esp. p. 49.  Another way to understand this section, and perhaps the more common way, is that Lewis observes that MacDonald used to believe in universalism and that he presented the Apostle Paul as a proponent of it as well when on earth.  MacDonald’s response is to basically tell Lewis not to ask such questions.  Lewis does not deny the view nor affirm it, he just leaves it hanging in the air unanswered.       

[xxviii] For some concrete reasons why Lewis is beloved and Bell is detested see Why Do We Love C.S. Lewis and Hate Rob Bell?

[xxix] Many claim Bell is an outright universalists, but a careful reading seems to suggest he is more agnostic and likely more in line with theologian Clark Pinnock, another advocate of inclusivism.  There are different shades of inclusivism some at least that strive to be more anchored to Scripture (Billy Graham) than others (William P. Young).  Which category Bell falls into will be up to the reader if they so wish to investigate (for more on Bell see Love Wins:  Making A Contradictory Case for Universalism from equip.org).   

[xxx] This is called dual covenant theology.  Jerusalem Post ran an article citing Hagee as a supporter of this doctrine and a few days later he officially denied it.  The evidence from interviews and book publications say otherwise (see the collection gathered here at equip.org).  I suspect that Haggee is able to back out of such an indictment because of how he understands the term “covenant.”  In his book, In Defense Of Israel, he argues that “God’s covenant cannot be revoked, altered, annulled, or replaced by a new covenant.  A new covenant can enhance, extend, or complement the former covenant, but it never replaces the previous covenant” (191).  In this way Haggee can deny that he holds to a dual covenant salvation because he sees salvation as occurring under a single covenant (the Old Covenant) and its extension (the New Covenant) which is held together in Christ (even if the Jews do not accept Christ!).       

[xxxi] Emphasis mine.  Commentary On The Epistle To The Galatians by Martin Luther (Gal. 2:4-5), trans. by Theodore Graebner, 2012 Authentic Media LimitedLuther said of this book, “The Epistle to the Galatians is my own little epistle.  I have betrothed myself to it; it is my Katie von Bora” (Luther’s wife). 

A Reformation Meditation on Solus Christus: Inadvertent Attacks by the Church? (4/4)

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