My defense of inclusivism prompted Jason Thibodeau to comment:
“If believing in Jesus is not necessary for salvation, then Christians should focus on the stuff that is necessary. Call that ‘having the appropriate relationship with Jesus Christ’ if you wish, but clearly this can be accomplish [sic] without believing in Christ.”
Is Jason correct here? If a Christian believes it is possible to be saved by Christ without having heard of Christ, then should Christians refocus themselves accordingly by identifying what an appropriate relationship with Jesus sans knowledge of Jesus looks like, and then promote that?
Let’s try to dress up Jason’s proposal a bit with an illustration. Imagine that some health workers come to a village in Africa with the intention of stopping the spread of a fatal disease in the region. The disease spreads from microbes that are typically passed in hand-to-mouth transmission. So the health workers quickly identify the optimal way to stem the tide of the disease spreading: hand-washing. They recognize as well that all things considered it would be better than not if the tribal peoples had information on the microbes and the means of their transmission. But for all intents and purposes what is required to save the people and their village is knowledge and practice of thorough hand-washing. And so this is what the health workers promote. Knowledge of the microbes and the way hand-washing works is secondary and so it is set aside for the sake of the immediate need.
Likewise, if people are saved by Jesus based not on information about him (akin to knowledge of the microbes and the way hand-washing works) but rather based on another set of beliefs and practices analogous to the practice of thorough hand-washing, then it is that other set of beliefs and practices which we should promote.
I’ll comment on this analogy in a follow-up article. (As you can guess, I won’t be endorsing this analogy.) But for now I’ll invite the reflections of others.