22 November 2008

The Intolerance of True Religion

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "The Way of Salvation," a sermon preached Sunday morning, August 15, 1858, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.

"Neither is there salvation in any other."

id you ever notice the intolerance of God's religion? In olden times the heathen, who had different gods, all of them respected the gods of their neighbors.

For instance, the king of Egypt would confess that the gods of Nineveh were true and real gods, and the prince of Babylon would acknowledge that the gods of the Philistines were true and real gods: but Jehovah, the God of Israel, put this as one of his first commandments, "Thou shalt have none other gods besides me;" and he would not allow them to pay the slightest possible respect to the gods of any other nation: "Thou shalt hew them in pieces, thou shalt break down their temples, and cut down their groves."

All other nations were tolerant the one to the other, but the Jew could not be so. One part of his religion was, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God;" and as the consequence of his belief that there was but one God, and that that one God was Jehovah, he felt it his bounden duty to call all pretended gods by nicknames, to spit upon them, to treat them with contumely and contempt.

Now the Christian religion, you observe, is just as intolerant as this. If you apply to a Brahmin to know the way of salvation, he will very likely tell you at once, that all persons who follow out their sincere religious convictions will undoubtedly be saved. "There," says he, "are the Mohammedans; if they obey Mohammed, and sincerely believe what he has taught without doubt, Alla will glorify them at last." And the Brahmin turns round upon the Christian missionary, and says, "What is the use of your bringing your Christianity here to disturb us? I tell you our religion is quite capable of carrying us to heaven, if we are faithful to it."

Now just hear the text: how intolerant is the Christian religion! "Neither is there salvation in any other." The Brahmin may admit, that there is salvation in fifty religions besides his own; but we admit no such thing. There is no true salvation out of Jesus Christ.

The gods of the heathens may approach us with their mock charity, and tell us that every man may follow out his own conscientious conviction and be saved.

We reply—No such thing: there is no salvation in any other; "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Now, what do you suppose is the reason of this intolerance—if I may use the word again? I believe it is just because there is the truth both with the Jew and with the Christian. A thousand errors may live in peace with one another, but truth is the hammer that breaks them all in pieces. A hundred lying religions may sleep peaceably in one bed, but wherever the Christian religion goes as the truth, it is like a fire-brand, and it abideth nothing that is not more substantial than the wood, the hay, and the stubble of carnal error.

All the gods of the heathen, and all other religions are born of hell, and therefore, being children of the same father, it would seem amiss that they should fall out, and chide, and fight; but the religion of Christ is a thing of God's—its pedigree is from on high, and, therefore, when once it is thrust into the midst of an ungodly and gainsaying generation, it hath neither peace, nor parley, nor treaty with them, for it is truth, and cannot afford to be yoked with error: it stands upon its own rights, and gives to error its due, declaring that it hath no salvation, but that in the truth, and in the truth alone, is salvation to be found.

Again, it is because we have here the sanction of God. It would be improper in any man who had invented a creed of his own, to state that all others must be damned who do not believe it; that would be an overweening censoriousness and bigotry, at which we might afford to smile; but since this religion of Christ is revealed from heaven itself, God, who is the author of all truth, hath a right to append to this truth the dreadful condition, that who so rejecteth it shall perish without mercy; and in proclaiming that, apart from Christ, no man can be saved. We are not really intolerant, for we are but echoing the words of him that speaketh from heaven, and who declares, that cursed is the man who rejects this religion of Christ, seeing that there is no salvation out of him. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Now I hear one or two persons saying, "Do you imagine then, sir, that none are saved apart from Christ?"

I reply, I don't imagine it, but I have it here in my text plainly taught.

"Neither is there salvation in any other." A man may seek after it and labor after it in his own way, but there he cannot possibly find it, "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
C. H. Spurgeon


R.C. said...

"Again, it is because we have here the sanction of God. It would be improper in any man who had invented a creed of his own, to state that all others must be damned who do not believe it..."

Therein lies the rub: other religions see Jesus as just another man, a good prophet. Therefore, they think it improper of him to damn all who don't believe he is the way. However, as Spurgeon points out, this religion is "the sanction of God", with all authority on heaven and on earth - He has the right to demand complete and total allegiance.

This is something I knew, but hadn't heard it worded this way. What has happened to the boldness of our preachers and teachers today? Why don't we hear messages like this anymore? Thanks for posting.

Trevor said...

Awesome reminder. Every non-Christian is bound to hate the Christian message for its "intolerance," for he cannot see the worth of God in Christ. But every believer knows and loves the gospel, for in it God is proclaimed, in his holiness and justice and mercy. It is by the fact of its proclamation a loving message, because it comes from God's mercy, and it is not His obligation to send it out to any person.

I love the weekly dose of Spurgeon, by the way. It's one of my favorite things about Pyro.

Trevor said...

P.S. there's a typo in the 10th paragraph, third line. "he damned" should be "be damned" I believe.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Spurgeon. And as we see our society (and even our churches) embrace values of pluralism, this exclusivity and intolerance of the Truth of Christ will be more and more despised. We as His people need to be constantly on guard against accommodation and compromise, and make sure we are well equipped to contend for the faith. The One, True, Exclusive Faith.

Carlo Provencio said...

I love Charles Spurgeon!

~Mark said...

It's hard to meet a fellow laborer who doesn't say that we've got to respect the other person's choice until God opens their eyes.

I've never understood that, not even from day one of my salvation. It's always been clear to me that deathly poison is not to be respected, especially when it's killing someone you love.

We're The Good Guys said...

Spurgeon states so clearly that plain and simple truth that Jesus did say "I am the way..." and from Acts 4:12, one reads "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

How cool is that! Those who insist in denying the deity of Jesus are smashing themselves against the cornerstone which God laid.

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Sorry--kind of messed up on my previous comment--here's to trying again....

It's so weird how I'm reading this post after briefly watching a program made by a Japanese Christian organization earlier tonight (it had subtitles). At the end of that program the narrator recited the mission statement of the organization, and among one of the points that made me think was that the organization seeks to keep the purity of Christianity but is respectful of the different religions in Japan. Spurgeon's words are just a sober reminder for me that God is not for coexisting with other idols--He did smash Dagon's head in Ashdod, after all (cf. 1 Samuel 5:1-5).