The most thought provoking aspect of the topic of atonement for me was found at the very end of Chapter 13 in McGrath’s Intro. McGrath writes, “In his Mere Christianity Lewis argues that those who commit themselves to the pursuit of goodness and truth will be saved even if they have no formal knowledge of Christ.” (Intro, 358) Having read this idea previously (I believe it was in Brian McLaren’s Generous Or+hodoxy) and been intrigued by the implications of such a theology, it rekindled my thoughts on the topic. McGrath goes on to quote Lewis who wrote, “There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity without knowing it.” This line of thinking makes the question of who will be “saved” a lot more interesting.
Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but by me.” (Jn 14.6) And yet Romans speaks of God’s attributes being discernible from creation so that no one is without excuse (with the implication of “even if they have never heard the name of Jesus”; cf. Rom 1.20). I can also remember times where pagan people are faulted not for failing to serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but for worshipping creation instead of the Creator (seemingly saying they should have know the difference even if they did not know who God was; cf. Rom 1.25).
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