Christianity - the only way?
As a spin-off from the “Word of God?” thread I would like to canvass opinions about religious pluralism. Here is an excerpt from that thread which I find very attractive but which I cannot square with the New Testament.
In Ephesians chapter 2 Paul describes the spiritual state of the Ephesians before they had put their faith in Christ explicitly. He says they were:
In chapter 1 Paul says that the turning point for them occurred when they heard the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation, and believed in Christ. There seems to be no room in Paul’s mind that some of the Ephesians may have already encountered Christ before hearing the gospel explicitly. Some of those Ephesian converts were probably virtuous people and sincere God-seekers in their pre-Christian days, but Paul lumps them all together as being without God and separated from Christ.
Paul makes the same point in his letters to the Romans, Colossians, and Thessalonians, and it is also comes out in the writings of Luke, Peter, and John. For example, Cornelius was “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:2) but he was not saved until after hearing the message declared to him by Peter (Acts 11:14). Another significant passage is Romans 10:13-14.
This is a vital issue if other people’s eternal welfare hinges on our efforts to “spread the word”. I do not wish to allow political correctness on the one hand, or spiritual arrogance on the other, to skew my attempt to answer this question correctly.