"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. . . ." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2:10-14)
An article by Stephanie Samuel in the online Christian Post today gives Christians a pause for reflection. The article, titled, "Author: Most Evangelicals Believe Good People are Heaven-Bound," has some interesting quotes (you can read the whole article by clicking on the name of it above). Some of the things it says are (the words in #s 1–3 are quotes from the article):
1) The majority of Protestants and evangelicals believe that good people and people of other religions can go to heaven, according to author David Campbell. . . . surveys of 3,000 Americans, used to write the book, show that American people of faith, though devout, are very tolerant. So much so that most believers also believe that good people, despite their religious affiliation, can go to heaven.
2) Campbell . . . explained at a Thursday discussion of his book that the numbers can be explained with the “Aunt Susan” theory. Aunt Susan, he said, is the nice family member who is well-loved and is an all around do-gooder. “You know that if anyone is destined to go to heaven, it’s Aunt Susan,” described Campbell. However, Aunt Susan is of another religion. Rather than condemn that person to a lost eternity, Campbell said, most American believers choose instead to believe that that person is heaven-bound.
3) Land lamented that more evangelicals are being taught the doctrine of universalism. “It’s emphasized from the pulpit; it’s emphasized in the seminaries,” he decried. Universalism is the theological doctrine that all people will eventually be saved despite a relationship with Christ.
My Thoughts: This survey raises some interesting questions around Christmas that the Evangelicals who this describes need to answer. The first of these is, "Then what was Christmas, and ultimately the cross, about?" If a Savior was given to us, and that Savior was God's Son, and God allowed Him to suffer so ultimately for us, then why did that happen if there were other ways? How can anyone believing in Jesus as Jesus describes Himself believe that if there was any other way to save us that God wouldn't have taken that path?
Another question is about God's Word. Do you believe it is His Word or not? If you are going to pick it apart and decide arbitrarily which parts you believe and which you don't then who are you to state John 3:16 with confidence, or how do you possibly offer confident hope to someone contemplating suicide or struggling with hopelessness?
Another question, equally relevant around Christmas, is, "What were we being saved from if all people end up in Heaven?" It is amazing to me how reluctant most Christians are to talk about things God was not hesitant or apologetic talking about—Heaven, Hell, fear of God, sin, holiness, condemnation, redemption, etc. It doesn't mean that we should talk about these things with a pointing and "in their face" finger, from a platform of arrogance, but we are very remiss if we don't share what God openly shares, and do so from a place of humility and love because we know that, but for Christ, we, too would be separated from God in Hell forever.
Christmas is a message of great joy! Indescribable joy! All Heaven declares the glory of God and the news! Why? Because the bad news is so bad. Because man is sinful and fallen and there is not one good among him according to God's Word. Because eternal separation from God, in Hell, is a fate to wish upon no one. Because we were helpless to save ourselves, but God came and saved us. He didn't steal us from the devil on some "Underground Railroad" smuggling us away—He recognized Satan's lawful right to us as his slaves and He bought us from him, and the purchase price was His Son's blood . . . the only innocent blood that could be shed in another's place because we were all guilty and condemned to die anyway.
Glory be to God in the highest! He has saved us, and He has given us His precious Word to show us the way and to make sure we understand that His Way, through His Son, is the only way—and that is the message of Christmas! God, please help us to stand strong in your Word, to not be ashamed or apologetic of what you are not ashamed or apologetic of, to be filled with joy at your message, and to shed it abroad with all love and humility.