This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Drawing Circles (Exclusivism and Ecumenicism) Part 2

A second thing that surprises me when people start wanting to talk about who's saved and who's not:

Some people reject the circles drawn by others simply because of how small others' circles appear. Some people say, "you just can't be right, because surely God has to save more people than that." In other words, it's not a matter of the criteria used to draw the circle, but the size of the circle. If a position about who's saved and who's not entails that a shockingly small number of people are saved, then that position can't be right. (I suppose you could say it the other way around, too: People freak out when a someone implies shockingly large number of people are lost.)

i think this reaction isn't a good way to judge answers to the question for at least two reasons.

(1) i have to say that it seems almost common sensical to me that if even half the things the Bible says are true, then ...well....yes...in comparison to everyone who ever lived, a shockingly small number of people are heaven bound. Suppose we had everyone who had ever lived in all of human history standing before us, and then Jesus divided them up right before our eyes into the saved and the lost. What do we expect to happen? For no one to be lost? For only a handful of people to be lost? For no more than half? Why did Jesus say to enter through the narrow gate, and few there be that find it? Consider the fact that there are 6 billion people on the planet right now, and the majority of them are not Christians by any distinctive definition. And in the Bible, it seems almost a trend with God to work with minorities. Noah and his family (eight people in all) were rescued while the rest of the entire world was washed away in the flood. The Jews were a tiny nation on a global scale. Christianity was an incredibly small, cultural minority for almost four hundred years after its inception.

(2) Rejecting a certain circle someone has drawn just because it's small is perpectival. It's relative to the eye of the beholder. Sure, the circle may seem small to you (i'm using "you" here in the general sense of anyone)? But to someone else it might seem just right or too large. So why does it appear too small to you? Does it seem like more people deserve to be in the "in" circle than that? Does it seem like it excludes people you think of us as 'good' or 'nice' or 'worth saving'? Probably everyone who ever lived seemed 'good' or 'nice' to someone. (Even Hitler had a mother.)

i think the Bible represents those in God's favor as a historical minority, and we shouldn't reject answers about who's in and who's out just because the circle appears small.


Warren Baldwin said...

I haven't read part 1 yet but I will try to. Some interesting thoughts here, which we don't discuss much anymore. Think about Israel in the OT - they drew circles, and they had reason to (God chose them). But, many of the judgment passages in the OT are on the people INSIDE THE CIRCLE! Those of us who think we are inside the circle today need to worry about how well we are living inside of it! If we live like Jesus, we might even find the circle growing.

La Espada De Dios said...

Rev 1:3 Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

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