This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.
Why doesn’t the Assemblies of God accept non-Christian religions as valid means of salvation and access to God? Isn’t such a limited view narrow-minded?
Peter’s message, recorded in Acts 4:12, reports about Jesus of Nazareth, "Salvation (forgiveness for sin) is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to man by which we must be saved." This, without apology, is a claim to the exclusive nature of the Christian message.
Within the Bible, there is a very clear Christian worldview, based on the unique revelation given by God to the prophets and apostles. This view as seen through the lens of God’s Holy Scripture gives us an insight into the nature and character of God, the nature of man, the question of man’s destiny at death, the basis for ethics, and the meaning of history. It also deals realistically with the problem of the sinfulness of mankind, pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the sole solution to our sinful separation from a holy God.
Alternative religions, whether the widespread forms of animism (belief in the existence of spirits separate from bodies), or more sophisticated religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, each contain distinctive world views. However, all non-Christian alternatives supply very different pictures of God, of man, of the universe, and of the way of salvation. If one is willing to accept the logic that two competing alternatives cannot both at the same time be right, one is obliged to make a choice. Either the Christian revelation is correct, or some other alternative is a better choice. Paul, at the Areopagus in Athens, spoke about the need to choose between Christ and the contemporary competing options available in his day. Paul defended the claims of the Christian message as superior to all others by pointing to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:29-31).
Why is it so urgent to insist on the unique claims of Jesus Christ? One may illustrate this by asking, "Why is it urgent to call the fire department if one’s neighbor’s house is on fire–and to warn the neighbors to get out of the burning dwelling?" Of course the answer is obvious. If we don’t warn them, they will perish. Likewise, the Bible is clear in its insistence on belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way for sinners to get right with God and to be ready for heaven. To tolerate non-Christian alternative views is to deny to masses of people the only way of salvation, for without Christ they will perish.
In our day, there is a steady drumbeat of support for toleration, as a humane and generous way to live. The earnest Christian will distinguish between respect and toleration of other human beings as individuals made in the image of God, whether or not they accept the Christian mandate, as opposed to toleration of destructive ideas that are hostile to Christian revelation and society at large. To confuse the issue of toleration for persons and the toleration of alien ideas is at the root of the issue.
One further point: the study of Christian apologetics, or the defense of the faith, is a worthwhile endeavor for all inquiring persons. Available today are important resources for underscoring the claims of the Bible. However, even more important is the testimony of transformed individuals whose lives have been changed by trusting in the risen Lord.
Yes, the Assemblies of God aligns readily with evangelical Christianity in declaring that only in Christ is there salvation. No apology need be made for this exclusive claim for Christ. For this reason the Assemblies of God disavows universalism and the toleration of worldviews that do not require entering the kingdom of God through the narrow gate of the God-man, Jesus Christ.
The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching. The official delineation of this position is found in Statement of Fundamental Truths, Sections 5 & 15.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.