Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tim Keller on Whether or Not Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Jews are Saved After Death

Posted by Christine Pack

Martin Bashir: Do you believe that there is only one God, and that there is only one way to approach that God? 
Tim Keller: If....yes, if.....okay, yes, if....I'm speaking as a Christian here.....if Jesus Christ is who he says he is, if he is the Son of God from heaven, if he is, uh, if he really was bodily raised from the dead, and if he was our original Creator, I mean if all that's true, that's what he says, then of course there'd have to be just one way to God, because our souls would need him, or they would shrivel eternally, just like your body needs food or it would shrivel. I mean, the fact is my body here needs food or it would shrivel, that's not narrow-minded to say, that's just the way it is. If Jesus is who he said he is, then our souls would have to get him in order to be eternally full and thrive. And if we don't get him, then we would eternally shrivel. So to seems so narrow, to claim that there's only one way to God, to say that actually precludes the possibility that Jesus is who he says he is. I mean, if he is who he says he is, then that's what we're - that's what we have to say. 
If he's not who he says he is, then of course it's narrow ..... So basically you have to sit down and ask yourself the question about the facts about Jesus' life and look at that. And not say, "I don't even want to look at Jesus, I don't even want to hear the claims of Christianity because they seem so exclusive." 
Martin Bashir:  So where does that leave the millions of Muslims, Sikhs and Jews?  Are they sadly and completely deluded? 
Tim Keller: People who never heard about Jesus, or never really got a hearing about Jesus... 
Martin Bashir: I'm not talking about them, because some of those people have heard (about Jesus). I'm talking about the millions of Muslims, Sikhs and Jews who have heard about Jesus. Where does your thesis leave them? 
Tim Keller: Where they are right now, it means that if there's never any change, they don't get Jesus. If he is who he says he is, then, long term, they don't have God. If on the other hand.....all I can always say about this is God gives me, even as a minister with the Scripture, a lot of information on a need-to-know basis. And a need-to-know basis means, "Here's all I can tell you: unless you get Jesus Christ who created you to start with, unless you are reunited with him sometime, there is no eternal future of thriving." It just makes sense. Again, I'm trying to go back to this idea that, that, if he is who he says he is, you've got to have him.  If right now a person doesn't have him, he or she needs to get him. If they die and they've never, if they die and they don't have Jesus Christ, I don't know. In other words, I have a need-to-know basis, the only thing I know is you need Jesus. I certainly know that God is wiser than me,  more merciful than me, and I do know that when I finally find out how God is dealing with every individual soul, I won't have any questions about it. 
Martin Bashir: Okay, but if this is the only way to God, and if Christians are heading for a place called "heaven," does that mean, therefore, by deduction, that millions of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, all of whom hold their faith with enormous integrity, all of them are heading for hell? 
Tim Keller: There's a lot of people who are born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and they grew up in First Baptist Church there, who are also headed for a Christless eternity. Every human being chooses an identity. It's either chosen-- it's either based on the grace of God, or it's basically based on your own performance, and your own ability, and therefore on your own self. And if a billion years from now, you've put your hope in the grace of God, you will be beautiful and happy. If you, a billion years from now, you've put your, you've based your identity on your own self and your own abilities and your own performance, you'll be miserable. In fact, you can see it even now. Self-centered people are miserable even now, not a billion years from now. So, there are plenty of people who're raised Christians, there are plenty of people who were raised in First Baptist Church, but in their hearts, have not turned toward the grace of God. People in other religions, unless they find Christ, I don't know any other way (to heaven), but I also get information on a need-to-know basis. If there's some, if there's some trapdoor, or something like that, I haven't been told about it. But I also don't know. I guess I want to know this: I want to know when a person says, "I need to know everything about how God is going to deal with, you know, all eternity, with all individuals before I can bite down on Christianity," I feel that you actually are maybe projecting your American democratic individualistic understanding of (who God is). You really want a president or a governor or a mayor. You don't really want a King, and I can understand that, because human kings, human beings, are flawed, and therefore, monarchy was not a very good approach to things. But if you have a perfect God, a perfect King, who comes and suffers in (the person of) Jesus Christ, then at a certain point, I trust him.
 Sola Sisters Commentary 

This response by Dr. Keller is troubling for several reasons, but for now, I'll just put this partial transcript (with my emphasis highlighted in red) "out there" for readers to ponder.  Further commentary to come soon.

 Additional Resources 

What Is A Christian Universalist?