Through the years, as I worked out various issues I was having with Christianity, I became stuck for a while on a particular problem related to the Christian “gospel” that I was not able to shake off. Particularly, that the Christian message propagated “two classes of people”; the saved and the unsaved; those outside of God’s grace and forgiveness due their rejection of the Christian message, or, as most evangelicals conceptualized it, of Jesus. The average Christian, who believes in Jesus and in the evangelical gospel message, would fail to see the conflict. But it is obvious and disturbing, once a person recognizes it, especially as it reflects upon current events.
I can compare this understanding of the gospel to how many view the Covid vaccines. I’m not trying to attack vaccines here, only to point out that the presence of “breakthrough infections” means that the vaccines “leak”, which of course means that the notion of getting everyone vaccinated to end Covid is a non-attainable goal if only vaccines are going to be used. That’s just plain fact. This doesn’t mean the vaccines don’t work at all, as data suggests that vaccinated individuals are less at risk of hospitalization from the disease than unvaccinated individuals, but the vaccines clearly have not provided full immunization. But, for the sake of our discussion, let’s say that the vaccines for Covid mostly work. Even before they were rolled out, none of the manufacturers claimed 100% effectiveness. What is their actual success rate? What we know is that if even one fully vaccinated person can die from Covid (and many such people have done so), then we cannot rightfully claim that the vaccines can fully eradicate the disease. Maybe, just maybe, rather than segregating our population with mandates, that other solutions may also be possible, which may even be more effective at obtaining the desired goal. Not in lieu of vaccines, perhaps, but in addition to. Solutions such as lifestyle change, vitamin supplementation, prophylactic therapies, and early treatment protocols. Meaning, a multi-faceted solution, rather than one-size-fits-all. The point is that it is untrue to suggest that vaccination, alone, is the solution to Covid-19. I’m not trying to start an argument, only to make a key point about the Christian gospel. I do see a parallel here.
If the evangelical Christian world teaches that a person cannot know God or go to heaven unless they accept Jesus, then this does much the same thing to folks as our current health policy with vaccines. Telling people that only Jesus can fix people and make them right with God is the same thing as telling people how to take care of their health through a solution that they may not have chosen for themselves. After all, what might be right for you may not be right for them. What if we were to learn that Jesus and the Christian gospel is not the only way to know God? Are Christians really so cock-sure that there’s no other way? Apparently, because they implore others, in love, to accept the message, to “save” them, as though rejection of this message means certain and eternal damnation.
Perhaps you or your friend or family member really believe that the Christian gospel is the only way to handle the fear of death. However, how is it that God would make a covenant with a chosen people in the Bible (the Hebrews) and not tell them about this message? Or, worse, not even make it available to them for many generations after first revealing Himself to them? How can your assumption, in that light, be defended?
In my book “There’s No Such Thing As Magic Blood”, I address this question, in the chapter entitled “Someone Else’s Story”,
“…God, supposedly, could not even see the blights on your character if you had the magic blood of Jesus attributed to you. Not so for the Jews without Jesus. Nope; if they weren’t willing to get vaccinated with the magic blood of Jesus, they would have to live under the strictures of the Law. And good luck with that!… Are the consequences of wrong behavior no longer in effect because of Jesus? Did Christians really believe this nonsense?” (pg.168)
In truth, just like today with Covid, once people are convinced of something, people who reject this presumptive position are often viewed as stubborn, rebellious, and part of the “problem”. The “problem”, in this case, is the “lost”. This presumption, based on limited information, colors the way people within the evangelical world view those outside of it. They say they will “pray for you”, but this only means that you are not part of their favored group, and never will be until you submit to the terms of their pre-established social arrangement.
My prayer for them is that they would be “delivered” by the Lord from such myopic thinking. You see, if God made an eternal covenant with the Hebrew people, who today we call the “Jews”, and it’s a covenant that He cannot break, then it would seem that the evangelical gospel, like the vaccines, has a “leaking” issue, since there are some folks that are outside of the evangelical mandate. And if this is the case, then Christians have no grounds to make exclusionary or exclusive claims of any kind. They may, in fact, have only one option among many.