Continuing our Evangelical Documents Study Series, let's examine the third small segment from the Lausanne Covenant, promulgated in 1974. While the first portion discussed the purposes of God and the second portion controversially discussed the nature of the authority of Scripture, the third section discusses Jesus:
3. The Uniqueness and Universality of Christ
We affirm that there is only one Saviour and only one gospel, although there is a wide diversity of evangelistic approaches. We recognise that everyone has some knowledge of God through his general revelation in nature. But we deny that this can save, for people suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. We also reject as derogatory to Christ and the gospel every kind of syncretism and dialogue which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies. Jesus Christ, being himself the only God-man, who gave himself as the only ransom for sinners, is the only mediator between God and people. There is no other name by which we must be saved. All men and women are perishing because of sin, but God loves everyone, not wishing that any should perish but that all should repent. Yet those who reject Christ repudiate the joy of salvation and condemn themselves to eternal separation from God. To proclaim Jesus as "the Saviour of the world" is not to affirm that all people are either automatically or ultimately saved, still less to affirm that all religions offer salvation in Christ. Rather it is to proclaim God's love for a world of sinners and to invite everyone to respond to him as Saviour and Lord in the wholehearted personal commitment of repentance and faith. Jesus Christ has been exalted above every other name; we long for the day when every knee shall bow to him and every tongue shall confess him as Lord.
When I read this, I see so much beauty and truth. With this paragraph, the Lausanne Covenant repudiates any view that would position Jesus as just one member of a class of peers, any of whom can offer salvation. He isn't. The Lausanne Covenant here affirms that Jesus Christ, just as the Definition of Chalcedon made clear so many centuries ago, is both God and man. Furthermore, all have sinned and so are in need of salvation, and this can only happen through Jesus the Christ; no other name besides his can be invoked for the sake of our rescue. And to respond to him is to repent of our sins, put faith in him and the power of the atonement he provided, commit ourselves to him, and acknowledge him as crucified Savior and also as risen Lord, the one to whom our loyalty and obedience is truly due. And this is the message that must be proclaimed unto salvation; this is the one and only gospel. All have sinned, and all are culpable because some knowledge of God is available to all; we have suppressed this truth, and so it alone cannot save (though it isn't certain whether this statement allows that one who never hears in this life might yet be saved afterwards if in this life they respond positively to the light they have been given; either way, it is our responsibility to proclaim the clear message far and wide). One cannot, however, say that, e.g., Islam is just as 'valid', salvifically speaking, as the gospel. It isn't. Also, this statement proclaims God's universal love for us in spite of our sin, and his passionate desire to redeem each of us; he doesn't want us to die, he wants us to flourish and live!