In recent months, one phrase has popped up in several conversations; the “gospel of inclusion.” With discussions within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America revolving around human sexuality and the ministry policy changes of CWA 2009, inclusion has been one of many buzz words. But this notion of the “gospel of inclusion” has been nagging at me. I’ve never really paid much attention to such speak, at least not until recently.
A friend (Lutheran of course) used this phrase a few days ago, and she used it in such a context that I really got the impression that she believed in a “gospel of inclusion.” Having heard this phrase so much lately, I asked what she meant and where she had learned it. Frankly, I was surprised with her answer because she learned it in Sunday school (Lutheran of course).
I decided to do a little reading.
For those who do not know, the gospel of inclusion was first preached by the Rev. Dr. H. Dale Jackson (Baptist) who believed the message of the gospels, as presented within the New Testament, is exclusive. He became universalist in his preaching and teaching.
Later, the Rev. Carlton Pearson began publicly preaching an inclusive message that all people, regardless of their religious (or non religious) views would gain salvation through Christ. Only those who willfully rejected God’s grace would not be saved.
A. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection paid the price for all of humanity to have eternal life in heaven, without any requirement to repent of sins and receive salvation.
B. Belief in Jesus Christ, is not necessary for a person to go to heaven. Salvation is unconditional, granted by the grace of God to every human being.
C. It is presumed that all of humanity will have its destiny in heaven, whether they realize it or not.
D. All of humanity will go to heaven regardless of their religious affiliation, including those who believe in false religions or adopt any other form of religious persuasion, or who have no religious persuasion.
E. Only those who have “tasted of the fruits” of real intimacy with Christ and have “intentionally and consciously rejected” the grace of God will spend eternity separated from God.
F. There are persons in some type of hell, but the emphasis is “to get away from the picture of an angry, intolerant God. I don’t see God that bitter.”
Looking back on the last few years, I realize that many Christians seem to believe in this gospel of inclusion. Several young persons whom I have been teaching also seem to believe that God would not condemn anyone, but rather will save all people. I wonder, has this teaching actually found its way into the ELCA? If so, how?