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Olson's Litmus Test of Christianity.

On the topic of exclusivist Christians: some strong words from Roger E. Olson [emphasis added by me]:

“The typical scenario falls out something like this (and it actually happened again recently):

“A person who claims to be a mature, knowledgeable Christian attacks ANY idea that God might forgive ANYONE without their explicit knowledge of Jesus Christ (by name) and confession of him as Lord (by name). And the person suggests that anyone who thinks otherwise might not be a Christian or at least is not an evangelical Christian.

“Because people know or suspect I’m an inclusivist (who reserves the right to interpret that my own way which is not necessarily the same as some other people’s way) they come up to me after I talk or they contact me via e-mail or whatever to assert restrictivism as the only biblical view.

“Usually, somewhere in the conversation the person (as happened recently) claims that IF there is any hope of salvation for the unevangelized, that would undermine missions and evangelism. Then I pull out my litmus test question:

“If God revealed to you in a way you could not deny that, indeed, many will be forgiven who never hear the gospel from a human missionary or evangelist, what would be your response with regard to missions and evangelism?”

“It’s amazing how many people who claim to be born again immediately (as recently) say something like “I wouldn’t bother with it anymore.”

“My response is always to press further before making a decision (which I usually keep to myself) about the authenticity of the person’s Christianity. For example: “Really? So you don’t think there’s any reason to tell people about Jesus Christ other than to save them from going to hell?”

“At that point most will pull back a little and says something like, “Well, maybe, but not enough to risk my life.” (This is what my most reason interlocutor said by way of response.)

My sad conclusion then is that such a person knows Jesus only in their head and not really in their heart. They may be forgiven, but I cannot believe they have experienced God inwardly.

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