Inclusive Theology Versus Exclusive Theology
Theology: the study of the nature of God and religious belief.
Religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed.
Exclusive: restricted to the person, group, or area concerned.
As Christians, which of these terms truly reflects the ideals of our faith?
Inclusive or Exclusive.
Whilst the Gospel is preached to all men, do all men receive the Gospel in the same way? Obviously not.
You could say that if a person receives the Gospel and believes its message, trusts Christ as his saviour, then he is Included in the Body of Christ. He is Included in an Exclusive club.
To use the word Inclusive in this way is quite correct. All who accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ no matter what race, colour, gender or status are included in the Church of Christ.
Therefore those that are Exclusive can be Inclusive.
Galatians 3:28 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.…
So, no matter who you are, male or female, bond or free, black or white, Jew or Gentile. You can be included into an exclusive group.
This is Inclusive, this is unity.
However if we mean that all men are Included in the Gospel whether he or she accepts the message or not, then this a different meaning of the word.
To use the word in this way would mean Universalism, (that all men eventually will be saved). Whether you accept the rules or not, you are included.
When we examine scripture, it becomes quite obvious that not all men will be saved. Not all men or women will believe the Gospel.
Jesus said quite plainly in John’s Gospel Ch 14 v 6. “I am the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but through me”.
Jesus died on the cross of Calvary to pay the price of sin. He died to purchase His church, His sheep, His bride.
We are told that at His second coming at the end of the age, that He will separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, the believers from the unbelievers.
From this we can see that not all men will be sheep or wheat or part of the bride.
We further read in Revelation that at the great white throne judgement, the books will be opened and there will be judgement made on what is written in the books.
Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
"What does it mean that a person will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)?"
The first mention of not inheriting the kingdom of God is found in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God"
By saying the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God, Paul is stating that the wicked are not children of God, nor are they heirs of eternal life (Romans 8:17). This does not mean that anybody who has ever committed one of these sins will be denied entrance to heaven. What differentiates a Christian’s life from that of a non-Christian is the struggle against sin and the ability to overcome it. A true Christian will always repent, will always eventually return to God, and will always resume the struggle against sin. But the Bible gives no support for the idea that a person who perpetually and unrepentantly engages in sin can indeed be a Christian. The 1 Corinthians passage lists sins that, if indulged in continuously, identify a person as not being redeemed by Christ.
Another way of using the term “Inclusive” is to include all faiths. A word that is used very often is the word “Ecumenism” this can mean the unity between different denominations within Christendom, or even further than this, refer to unity between different faiths.
However in truth there can only be unity in the faith if all parties believe the same fundamental doctrine.
The fundamentals of the Christian faith are things like, the Deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the death and resurrection of Jesus and the belief in salvation by grace through faith alone, apart from works.
If there are fundamental differences in these doctrines, then there can be no unity in the faith.
There is no unity between Christianity and Islam, Bhuddism, Hinduism or any religion, even professing Christians that denies these fundamental truths. This would include groups like, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and any other Unitarian group because they deny the deity of Jesus Christ.
To use the term “Inclusive” leaves it open to many different interpretations and could lead to confusion.
Now the term “Exclusive” is a different term altogether. This word tells us that only certain people can be members or belong to a group, a club or body.
Christianity is certainly an exclusive group of people. Only those that have experienced new birth, who have been born again, been converted, been saved, who have trusted in Jesus Christ for their salvation, only these can be members of His body (the church). Only these people are the sheep, the wheat, the elect, the bride.
Only these people will escape the judgement to come.
John 1: 12 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
12 But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God —
13 children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God.…
Anyone who does not fulfil this criteria is excluded from the Kingdom of God and cannot claim the right to be children of God.
If men could claim the right to be sons of God through their own merits or actions, then Jesus need not have died.
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
In truth, Christianity is the most Inclusive and Exclusive religion of all.
Christ’s offer of forgiveness and salvation is perfectly inclusive because it is based entirely on His work. The beneficiaries of such grace - what the church is called to be - therefore have no reason to boast in their own superiority (be it financial, educational, social, cultural, racial, etc.) since they know their greatest asset is pure gift. The more “religious” a Christian becomes, the more humble, sacrificial and loving she desires to be.
The irony of this inclusion is that it simultaneously and necessarily excludes everyone who does not come to Christ and trust him alone for salvation.
So, which theology is it that we as Christians adopt, is it Inclusive or Exclusive?
The question is for me. Can you be Inclusive and Exclusive or can you be Exclusive and also Inclusive?
I think the latter.
You cannot be Inclusive and Exclusive at the same time because Inclusive means that all are included and no one is excluded.
However you can be Exclusive and Inclusive at the same time. Your Exclusive group is Inclusive of all those that accept the teaching or have met the criteria of your group.
Therefore, Christianity is indeed “Exclusive”.
The Gospel is an Exclusive truth but it is the most Inclusive Exclusive truth in the World.