I live in an apartment complex and one of my neighbors who I stay in touch with frequently is a member of the Church of Christ. She stated her belief that only members of her denomination could possibly be saved. I was stunned because the Bible to my knowledge stated only one rule of faith. It was late last week I talked with a woman online who also made this same claim and a member of the Church of Christ.
But what about secluded islands or places, maybe such as Madagascar or the Maldives, or whatever island it is that the Church of Christ has not reached. Do they all burn miserably in hell because 'the' true church did not reach their island paradise? Either the Church of Christ does not understand this or they do not care.
Rousseau asked, "Will they all go to hell because of their seclusion?" [Émile, 1762]
And I also recognized that the Church of Christ insists that baptism is necessary for salvation. So in their system, they have three necessary articles of faith, to contrast my one.
This enters us into the topic of infant baptism.
"There are those who at heart are unwilling to grant that infants who die without Baptism ought to be condemned simply on account of lack of justice, as I have said.... If you think it over, however, even this sentence of condemnation of infants is not very different from the verdict of human beings. Suppose, for example, some man and his wife were exalted to some great dignity and estate, by no merit of their own but by favor alone, then both together inexcusably commit a grave crime, and on account of it are justly dispossessed and reduced to slavery. Who will say that the children whom they generate after their condemnation should not be subjected to the same slavery, but rather should be gratuitously put in possession of the goods which their parents deservedly lost? Our first ancestors and their offspring are in such a condition: having been justly condemned to be cast from happiness to misery for their fault, they bring forth their offspring in the same banishment. When the cases are similar, therefore, there ought to be a similar verdict, but in the latter case it ought to be all the more severe, since there is less likelihood that their crime could be condoned...
"Therefore, if, as I said, original sin is some kind of sin, it is necessary that every human being born in it be condemned unless it is remitted." [Anselm, The Virgin Conception and Original Sin, XXVIII, c. 1099-1100 tran. by Joseph M. Colleran)
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." [Mark 16:16]
This would be the initally offered proof-text for the CoC or some other deranged group. But this statement just can't be read to say those two are necessary sums to combine to result in salvation. That is because it isn't an affirmative demonstration that either of the two individually without the other is not sufficient to effect the result. Elsewhere we see that belief is crucial to salvation,
"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." [John 3:18]
So from here it's just as valid to salvation to have belief without baptism as it is to believe and be baptized since they both result in the person being saved.
Anselm thinks that the child is made guilty through original sin and baptism is necessary for remission. I have a couple problems with this.
I don't expect God holds anyone accountable who is not capable of comprehending the basic circumstances of human origins, the subsequent introduction of sin, and our need to act and of a Savior. At some age, a child may still understand the basics of right and wrong but still not understand the basic points the Christian faith makes. If that's true, there are different stages of development when the child begins to gain an awareness of the reality of sin and their personal need to be saved. Prior to this, I don't expect children to be condemned. In many cases, of children, of isolated tribespeople, they may be judged according to what they did know but I can't see God justly requiring a person's acting in accordance with an agreement they have never made and are not cognizant of. That sounds monstrous. The Anselm quote where he refers to children born into slavery, it reminds me of the Calvinists who quietly tolerated slavery or practiced it while Arminians, in England and America, Methodists notably, fought for abolition. (http:///theologicalgraffiti.com/two-different-thabatis-the-calvinist-and-the-abolitionist)
The biblical teaching, that I do not want to read anything into or derive any extra teaching from, but I want only to stand for itself comes from Jesus... Jesus had the same problem much of His followers are now experiencing. They are surrounded by people of many different faiths and backgrounds and many of them well-meaning people. But because they have not received the revelation God has for them, they often times can only think the way the world does, with the same heartless, uncompassionate, impatient, self-centered thinking. Small children were hoping to get close to the Lord and have Him lay hands on them and pray for them. The disciples shooed them away. Yet Jesus rebuked them, saying,
"Suffer little children and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." [Mark 19:14]
"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea." [Mark 9:42]
The little ones are afforded a special dignity from the Lord. This I want to neither add to nor take away from. The idea that this is the guy who wants millions of babies burning and skin melting, with worms crawling through them, and being impaled on spikes is really absurd. That's cool Anselm, that's cool CoC if you have secret fantasies of babies on spikes but do not dare say that that is what the Lord and His Father taught.
As to the problem we suffer today, that Jesus also knew, we are surrounded by religious people, zealots, who are troubled in their minds, they identify as being righteous, as being chosen of God. But this they find in themselves. They are self-righteous, self-pious, they are good in their mind's eye, self-religious, and they feel so convinced of this inherent goodness they find within themselves they assume it is the unction of God confirming it to them. Proverbs 21:2 says, "Every way of a man seems right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts."
One I noticed earlier, I stated 'the Lord'. I do not speak in the way the common man does who says 'Our Lord' or 'My Lord'. I'd not identify an 'Our Lord' because I do not know who your lord is. Your lord may or may not be the same as my Lord. And 'my Lord'. This one bothers me. If as many people did as their Lord said to say and do rather than only vocalize it, then I think this life would be a lot more bearable for many more people. Why vocalize when you can demonstrate through your actions? It makes no sense for any sinner to speak of an 'Our Lord' or 'My Lord' like a 'My couch' or a 'Your couch', or 'The guy who seemed pretty interesting so therefore I check a little box on applications to say I'm a Christian even though I live a depraved lifestyle."
I have discussed a three-step salvation, a two-step, and finally I've referred to my one-step salvation process. Many think they already know what that is. But the more I visit churches, the more I see they have added to the words of the Lord. They each have different requirements, but they all share one thing in common: They fundamentally miss the mark. I hope to soon write to my three readers, or however many it is now, to shed light on the crucial question fundamental in all man's traditions, "What must I do to be saved?/What is the meaning of life?"