Religious Exclusivism

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One of the truly pivotal events of the New Testament church was a conference that took place some 18 years or so after the church began on the Day of Pentecost. It is often referred to as the Jerusalem Conference, and it seems odd in a way that it took this long for it to occur. By most accounts, the year was ad 49.

What was at stake (and it is astonishing to say it) was whether the gospel could continue to go to the gentiles. Think about it. Jesus had said to Go and make disciples of all nations, and yet, for some reason, some people in the church didn’t think that should happen. Paul defined the issue in his letter to the church in Galatia. He said that, some 14 years after his conversion, he went up to this conference, along with Barnabas and Titus. All this had to be done because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. Strong words, these, and Paul went on to say, To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

And that defines the issue: whether or not the gospel was intended for Gentiles at all. It seems incredible to us today to imagine that anyone could think that way, but indeed some did. The events that led up to this day started, actually, in the second chapter of Acts…


Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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