Mike Licona is one of my favorite Christian apologists. I’ve met him, and he is very very down to Earth and direct.
Here’s a lecture where he defends the view that having accurate views about Jesus is very important in order to be rightly related to God: (45 minutes)
- even in the ancient world, Christians were persecuted for their exclusivity
- some people feel that exclusivity is unfair, but feelings don’t determine truth
- there are three views of salvation: universalism, inclusivism, and exclusivism
- does the Bible teach universalism?
- Paul writes that sincerity is not enough to be saved (see verse below)
- Paul writes that an accurate view of God is required to be saved
- Paul writes that those who reject Christ will not be saved
- John also writes that those who reject Jesus will not be saved
- Jesus says that you have to have true beliefs about him to be saved
- Jesus says that the way to salvation is narrow and few find it
- there is broad agreement across the New Testament for exclusivism
- the earliest Christians held to exclusive salvation
- the probability, historically, that Jesus made exclusive claims, is high
- what about those who have never heard the gospel?
- what about babies and the mentally handicapped?
- what about those who are sincere but don’t believe?
- what about the obligation to be tolerant?
If there is one good verse to take away from this lecture, it’s Romans 10:1-4:
1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.
2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.
3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Sincerity doesn’t count. What counts is knowledge.
Another thing I really, really liked the part at 33 minutes where he tells the story about the desert and discussion group he participates in with his wife and some non-Christian couples. If there is one reason for me to get married, it’s that my wife and I could discuss interest things with people we have over, and that would be fun.