Why Is Christianity So Closed-Minded and Exclusive?

by Nicholas Davis

According to the recent study, “The State of Theology” by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research, 46 percent of self-identified evangelicals in America believe that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” So the question, “Does a person really have to go through Jesus to get into heaven?” is clearly a divisive one within evangelical Christianity today. Some might wonder, “Why is Christianity so exclusive?” This is a good question, but there is an even better question to ask.

Why is Christianity so inclusive? If we pause for a brief moment, it is shocking to hear the good news that the gospel of grace brings: God tells us that he doesn’t justify the godly. (Well that’s good to know, at least I qualify now!) God actually justifies the ungodly (Rom. 4:5). In other words, God includes the “despicable me’s” of this world, and he decides to call them acceptable—they are counted as righteous instead of wicked in his sight.

That’s a pretty inclusive message! God in Jesus Christ reached out to the sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors—society’s greatest misfits and outcasts—and he was personally associated with their kind. He was even labeled among them as a “drunkard” (Luke 7:34).

That God would save anyone is itself a marvel. But that God would save the dirty, rotten, neglected, marginalized, hated, and scorned is a true mystery. Personally, I’m grateful for his decision to save those who are undeserving. With Paul I can easily say, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim. 1:15).

Right after the fall of humankind in Eden (Gen. 3), God could have said, “All right, I’m done with the human race.” He didn’t have to save anybody. Everyone was suddenly under the curse of sin. Instead of judgment, however, God offers mercy. The story continues with his seed of salvation when God promises to send a savior. He announces a gospel that will undo and redo what had been done.

Christianity is both inclusive and exclusive. The gospel is open to anyone and everyone, but not everyone is going to take God up on his offer. The real rub is this…

Why Is Christianity So Closed-Minded and Exclusive?