“Theological correctness” refers to the insistence of many religious conservatives upon the profession of certain theological beliefs as a necessary condition of Christian salvation and inclusion in the “family” of God. I include myself among those who subscribe to the view that theological correctness is necessary for salvation. At the same time, however, I do not believe that those who hold theologically incorrect beliefs are doomed to spend eternity in Hell (however benignly you may define the term). For many Christian conservatives, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is “good news,” it would seem, only for those who are fortunate enough to be exposed to this belief system and subscribe to it. It doesn’t matter how religious, moral, or otherwise deserving an individual might be, salvation and entrance into God’s heavenly kingdom is only available to those who subscribe to a very detailed system of theological beliefs about the work and person of Jesus Christ. In other words, in order to be saved, one must not only be spiritually, morally and ethically correct, but “theologically correct,” as well. Again, I remind the reader that I, myself, subscribe to this view, and make no apology for it, though it may seem “narrow-minded.”
Just how detailed is this system of necessary and required beliefs? Well, it is more detailed than you might think. For example, it is not enough to be a “follower” of Jesus Christ and seek to obey his religious and ethical teachings. There are certain specific teachings about his person and ministry that you must also subscribe to. You must believe that He is not only the “son” of God, but is “uniquely” the only “begotten” son of God (whatever that means) and very God of very God. In other words, you must believe in the “deity” of Christ. You also believe in the “atonement,” and not just any definition or theory of the atonement will do. You must believe in what is referred to as the “substitutionary” atonement, that Jesus took our place on the cross of Calvary, took upon himself the sins of all mankind, and paid the penalty for our sins. In order to be “saved” one must receive Christ as one’s personal Savior and Lord and ask forgiveness for one’s sins based on Jesus shed blood on the cross of Calvary. In other words, it is not enough just to believe that Jesus is the unique son of God, and is actually God himself, the third person of the “trinity,” and that He died for the sins of mankind, but you must also believe that he literally rose from the dead and is alive today, and you must enter into a personal relationship with him and ask him to forgive your sins based on his shed blood on Calvary. And you need to be sincere about it! Hypocrites and unbelievers will definitely not be admitted into heaven. Exactly how strong or perfect your belief or faith must be has never been made clear. Just to be sure, it would help to produce a sufficient amount of follow-through and “good works,” as evidence that your faith is genuine.
Naturally, the above level of “theological” correctness would pretty much rule out 99 percent of the people on earth as candidates for salvation. Most Roman Catholics wouldn’t make it, because they rely mostly on their good works for salvation and have little understanding of the principle of salvation by “grace apart from works,” whatever that really means. Mormons are excluded because, although they believe that Jesus is the Son of God, they don’t believe he is the “unique” son of God and is actually God Himself. And of course, Mormons don’t really believe in the Christian God, because they believe that God was once a man and that it is possible for men to actually become gods. Boy, talk about theological incorrectness! Jehovah’s witnesses are excluded because they don’t believe in the “trinity” or that Jesus was the unique son of God, and they rely mostly on their own good works for their salvation. Many, if not most, Christian “liberals” are excluded because they don’t believe in the deity of Christ, or the resurrection of Christ, or the substitutionary atonement. Even though many of those Christian “liberals” are deeply devoted to God and seek to follow the teachings of Christ, they are not technically “born again” or “saved.” Of course, if most “professing” Christians are not “theologically correct” enough to enter heaven, what chance is there for the Hindu, Moslem, Buddhist, Atheist, or the starving beggar on the streets of Calcutta, who doesn’t have even the slightest clue that God loves and cares about him.
Nevertheless, the insistence of Christian conservatives on “theological correctness” as a condition of salvation, is justified and is explicitly taught in the Bible, especially in the writings of the Apostle Paul. At the same time, however, I believe that these teachings were never meant by Christ or the Apostle Paul to be “exclusionary.” The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news, not bad news, and it is good news for everyone. I consider myself to be a conservative, evangelical Christian. I believe all the required “theologically correct” doctrines about Christ. The difference between my beliefs, however, and those of most Christian conservatives today, is that I am able to believe a natural interpretation of some of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostle Paul which many evangelicals find it difficult to fully accept “at face value” without providing some sort of “work-around” to avoid a “universalistic” interpretation. I believe that when Jesus said He came not to judge the world but to redeem it, He meant it just the way He said it. I believe that the Bible should be taken “literally” when it says that Christ died for the sins of all mankind and the debt only had to be paid once. I believe that the Apostle Paul was speaking the truth very plainly when he said, in 1 Corinthians, that as in Adam ALL died, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive.
Christians who insist upon “theological correctness” as a necessary condition of salvation, are absolutely right, and this is clearly taught in the Bible. The only part they’ve got wrong is the timing. The Bible teaches that in the coming ages those who are now Christians will rule with Christ and eventually all will come to the truth, repent of their sins and be saved. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, and death itself, both physical and spiritual, will finally be abolished by Christ. He will then hand his Kingdom over to the Father, and God will be ALL in All.
One more thought. I believe that becoming “saved” is a process that does not occur at any one instantaneous point in time. None of us are completely saved yet. The converse is also true, no one is completely lost. I believe that Christ has made provision on Calvary for the salvation of everyone, and everyone is in the process of becoming fully saved. God is at work in our lives before, during and after our profession of “theologically correct” beliefs about Jesus Christ. In my view, religiously devout individuals who are genuinely seeking to please God, though misinformed on many important theological points of doctrine, may be closer to God, and further along in the salvation process, than individuals who subscribe to all the correct doctrines but are not seeking to please God in many important aspects of their lives. I believe this most accurately reflects the spirit and intent of Jesus’ teachings.
I hope this makes as much sense to you as it does to me.