Are All Saved People Christians? Are All Christians Saved

Are All Saved People Christians? Are All Christians Saved March 30, 2024

Are All Saved People Christians? Are All Christians Saved?

I’ve written about these questions before, but I discern there may be a benefit in going over them again.

Learning how to make subtle distinctions is a very important part of mental-intellectual acuity.

Most conservative Christians I know assume that “Christian” and “saved” are synonyms. But they aren’t.

“Saved” refers here to the condition of being in a right relationship with God. Yes, of course, the word can mean other and more. I’m telling you how most evangelical Christians of all denominations (or none) think of it.

”Christian” means being a true follower of Jesus Christ. Yes, of course, whether a person is a true follower of Jesus Christ is not always easy to discern, but that is not the issue here. The issue here is only about definitions.

Is it possible to believe that, even since Jesus Christ died and rose again, ONLY Christians have been saved? No. And that opens the door to what is commonly called “inclusivism”—the belief that “saved” is a bigger category than is “Christian.”

Go back with me in a mental “Time Machine” to the first century A.D. Imagine a God-fearing gentile with “Abrahamic Faith” (the kind of faith many Hebrews and God-fearing gentiles had before and during Jesus’s earthly life).

I do not think I have ever met anyone, certainly not any biblically-literate Christian, who believes there were no saved people before Jesus’s death and resurrection. We speak of the saving “Abrahamic faith” of people who trusted in God before and during Jesus earthly lifetime.

This imaginary man lived in Spain and worshiped God in a synagogue there. No Christian apostle, missionary or other emissary ever reached him with the gospel of Jesus Christ. He died a month after Jesus died and rose.

Did he die in a “state of grace,” saved, such that he went to be with Jesus (like the thief on the cross) OR did Jesus’s death “unsave” him?

I don’t know any Christian who would say that Jesus’s death on the cross “unsaved” anyone. And there is the rub for those who say or think that ONLY Christians could ever be saved.

I asked a leading conservative evangelical pastor-theologian about this and his answer was that God “grandfathered” him and those like him “in.” But the obvious question, then, is when did God stop “grandfathering” people in?

My point is that “Christian” and “saved” cannot be considered absolute synonyms. And that for another reason. I have met many people who call themselves Christians and are widely believed to be Christians who I believe are not saved because their faith in Jesus Christ is false. They are what Martin Luther called “false brethren.” How do I discern that? Well, that depends. Perhaps because they hate a whole group of fellow human beings only because of their skin color or ethnicity.

Now, someone will say, then they are not really Christians OR saved. True, here I’m using “Christian” in the sense of nominal Christianity.

I long ago stopped thinking or talking about “Christian” and “saved” as synonyms. When I say I do not believe a person, past or present, is NOT a true Christian I am NOT saying he or she is not saved. That judgment is none of my business; only God knows and decides who is truly saved. However, as a Christian theologian, I cannot settle for considering everyone who calls himself or herself “Christian” as such. AND I suspect that many people in the world are saved who are not Christians, at least not in the “empirical” sense of calling themselves Christians or being considered Christians by others.

I will go further and possibly into heresy. Paul says in 2 Corinthians that Christ came into the world to reconcile the world to God. Did he accomplish that? Yes. So, everyone’s default position is saved, reconciled to God. However, on the other hand, many people reject that reconciliation. How? We can’t create a category that we know includes them all. We just don’t know. God knows.

Yes, here I agree with Karl Barth. At least I think I do, but Barth was just enigmatic enough that there is genuine debate about his alleged universalism of salvation. I believe in hell, but I don’t believe anyone needs to be there. Those who are there choose to be there. As C. S. Lewis said, hell’s door is locked on the inside.

*Note: If you choose to comment, make sure your comment is relatively brief (no more than 100 words), on topic, addressed to me, civil and respectful (not hostile or argumentative), and devoid of pictures or links).

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