I have a friend who is 101 yrs old. she has been a lifelong mainline protestant churchgoer but it was a social thing. she keeps saying things like “I wish my spiritual life was better” but when I suggested gently that she simply invite Christ into her life, she said, “I cannot accept that only Christians are saved if anyone is.” I wrote the following to her in an email. I would welcome criticisms and suggestions as I have never really tried to reach across this gap before. my own father was an atheist and I never found a way to reach him. anyway here is what I wrote:
what about those folks on a desert island? or in remote part of Africa? or good, sincere people of non-Christian religions, or belief systems such as humanism? surely it’s not fair for them to be left out.
nope, but eternity is a long time. long enough for everyone eventually, whether in this world or the next or some transitional stage, to learn about Christ’s message and make a choice. God is merciful and will make sure that sometime, somewhere, everyone will be given a chance. only those who have had an authentic opportunity to get to know Christ and deliberately choose to reject Christ will be permanently lost. and they will be, no matter how many good deeds they did or seemed to do.
someone as good and merciful and kind and loving and forgiving as we know from all historical sources that Christ was, would not say that he held the only keys to the kingdom… unless he really did and he knew it was really important that he make that clear. so he did.
so if you accept Christ’s ethical teachings but reject that he was what he consistently said he was, you are left wondering how someone who had it so together in every other way, could be so either deliberately deceptive or wildly delusional about the most important thing of all. or, looking at that in reverse, how could someone who was either a deliberate fraud or a raving madman, both articulate and exemplify such a beautiful way of life?
to the best of my recollection, all but one of the apostles was eventually killed, usually in a horrible way, for stubbornly insisting that Jesus was divine and had proven it by rising from the dead. the apostles too gave no evidence in their lives, their writings, their interactions with their fellow men and women, that they were either crazy or fraudulent. they were the ones who had been with Christ day and night. they were among the ones who either did or did not see him return from the grave. you have to be very sure of something to be willing to die a horrible death rather than deny it. to a man, they chose martyrdom