Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jesus, the Only Way to Yahweh: The Deceit of Inclusivist Theology

What if a person never hears the gospel, but, by a special movement of the Holy Spirit (unbeknown to him, of course) in his mind, heart, and will, is given cause over the course of his life to grow more and more uneasy with the pagan suppositions and assumptions of the false religion that dominates the culture into which he was born? it possible that he may find, upon death, that the God he has sought and worshipped, however clumsily and inadequately, was none other than Yahweh, who, by the power of an atonement provided in a Trinitarian plan of reconciliation about which he was completely oblivious during his lifetime, has established a relationship that will continue into eternity as that of child to Father? Is this possible? ‘Perhaps. We don’t know,’ is the correct answer” (Mangum, “Is There a Reformed Way,” page 130).

Todd Mangum, as has been shown in the last two posts, seems intent on arguing for “what-ifs.” As I said last time, anything is possible, so the issue is not about what Christ “could” do...rather, it is about what the Lord actually says in His Word. If God has spoken to us (which He has), and He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures (which are God’s self-disclosure to humanity), then the case is closed regarding what God “could” do. He has already told us what He will do...and instead of focusing on what “could” have been the case, we must accept and submit to what is.
However, Todd Mangum is consumed by the idea that something other than reality could be possible. In the quote above, he asks regarding the individual who lacks the gospel,
“is it possible that he may find, upon death, that the God he has sought and worshipped, however clumsily and inadequately, was none other than Yahweh...?”
From these words, we understand Mangum’s emphasis--- on Yahweh, God the Father, not God the Son (Jesus Christ). Magnum seems to argue for the possibility that one can give glory to “Yahweh” without giving glory to “Jesus” and can still be saved regardless. But does this align with Scripture? Does this confirm what we read from Scripture about “Yahweh”? To see what the Father has done and is doing, let’s read the following verses:
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2, NKJV).
God’s final Word is His Son, Jesus Christ. Notice that Christ is labeled “the heir of all things,” and that this has been given to Christ by God the Father. In other words, it is the Son, Jesus Christ, that we must hear and obey. If we want to please the Father, if we desire to be accepted by God the Father, we must hear and obey the Son, Jesus Christ. There is no other way.
Chapter 1 also reveals that the Father commands even the angels to worship the Son:
“But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says:
‘Let all the angels of God worship Him’” (Heb. 1:6).
Even the angels in heaven are told by God the Father to worship Jesus the Son of God. Not only does Jesus inherit all things; He also inherits all praise, whether it be from the angels, humanity, or creation.
So God’s spoken Word in these “last days” as Hebrews states it, is Jesus Christ. What the writer of Hebrews tells us here is that, despite what was done in the Old Testament (I’m not trying to dismiss the OT, simply to state the author’s point), “now,” meaning “from now to the end of time,” God’s revelation to the world is His Son, Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews exhorts the Jewish congregation to also look to Christ, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). For many inclusivists, the Old Testament is used as evidence to make the case that one can worship the Father without necessarily professing faith in Christ and still be saved; however, the Hebrews writer says that Christ is how God speaks today. In other words, to simply worship Yahweh does not cut it now; in these days, one must worship Jesus, as even the angels must (Heb. 1:6).
The following verse is one that is often used when discussing inclusivism and exclusivism:
“Jesus said to him [Thomas], ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
How does one come to “Yahweh”? By the Son. Jesus is the way to heaven. This is proven to be true simply by the context in which the verse is placed. In verse 2, Jesus says that he is going to “My Father’s house,” which we know to be heaven (from which Jesus came, see John 8:23). He also says that He is going to take those who believe (His disciples then, now, and in the future) to be with Him forever (v.3). In verse 6 itself, we see that Jesus is going “to the Father,” the same Father who spoke from heaven at Jesus’ baptism (see Matthew 3:17). So if Jesus is saying that He is the only way to the Father, He is saying that He is the only way to heaven, the only way to eternal life. The exception to the rule is Jesus; all other paths lead to eternal damnation...but the Son leads to everlasting life.
But there’s more to John 14...Jesus tells the disciples that He has revealed the Father: “If you had known Me, you would have known my Father” (v.7). Phillip then asks Jesus to show them the Father, to which Jesus responds, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father...Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (Jn. 14:9-10). By these verses, Jesus says that He is the revelation of the Father (confirming Hebrews 1). Inclusivists often ask the question, “Can one worship and serve Yahweh?” The answer to that question is “Yes, but only by worshipping and serving Jesus.” Jesus is the revelation of God the Father. Jesus tells us of the Father’s plans, the Father’s desires, the Father’s heart. Why does the Father send Jesus? He does so because of His love for the world (John 3:16). If Jesus is sent because of the Father’s love, then Jesus reveals the Father’s love for the world. Only by faith in Christ can one be made right with the Father.
Many an inclusivist today has the same request that Phillip did: “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us” (Jn. 14:8). However, Jesus said that He Himself revealed the Father...and for the inclusivist, this is Jesus’ answer. Jesus reveals “Yahweh,” God the Father, to the world. It is only in Jesus that we find salvation. it possible to worship Yahweh and be saved? Not if one worships Him apart from Jesus the Son; in the words of John,
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5: 11-12). 

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