Many people have tried to explain away verses in the Bible such as this one: “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).”
John Hick tried to describe all major religions as looking at the same thing from different perspectives. He said that all religions have equally valid paths of salvation. One might start here, he asserted, and another there, but they all really lead to the same place.
Hick, however, failed to explain how all these religions with their radically different beliefs and assumptions about reality could possibly lead you to the same place. There may be many paths in the woods, but that does not mean they all take you to the same place. Hick has been criticized by devout Christians, Buddhist, Confucianist, Taoist alike. Hicks also makes Christ’s death pointless. Since there are other ways to salvation, he need not have sacrificed his life.
Karl Rhaner tried to say that though Christ died at calvary and is necessary for salvation, knowledge about Christ is not. Therefore, someone who is not a Christian, as long as they are faithful to their religion, can be saved by Christ because in the end Christ really saves them.
Orthodox Muslims and Jews would be no less offended by Rhaner’s proposition than devout Christians. It does not make good sense out of what anyone believes, except those who want to believe what Rhaner believes. He also contradicts the Christian message that says you must repent and turn to God to receive Christ’s offer of salvation (to give just two examples, see Acts 2:38; 3:19).
Though Christians believe that Christ’s death is the only way of salvation for humanity, Christ offers his salvation to all. Anyone who repents and turns to him for salvation will not be turned away, no matter one’s intellect, economic status, race, sex, or anything else. All that Christ asks us to do is repent and believe in him. Why make it more complicated?
Jesus is God, or he is not. Either he died for our sins, or he did not. Either he is the way of salvation, or he is not. Christianity will not make you better than anyone else. It only means you have come to terms with your own sinfulness and received Christ’s gift of forgiveness. The true motivation why many seek to explain away such parts of the Bible is their unwillingness to do this, which is a form a spiritual pride.