Earlier this year, I watched several Larry King Live shows in a several day period. It seems that one of Larry's favorite questions to ask Christian ministers is "Do you believe Jesus is really the Only Way? What about the rest of the world? What about other faiths? Are all non-Christians really going to hell?"
I've thought about this question often over the last few months, thinking to myself, what would I say in that situation.
On one hand we want to be true to the Biblical account, yet on the other hand we don't want to turn off the masses before we have a chance to present our hearts in the matter.
One thought I felt would be good was that it doesn't matter what I personally believe as a Christian - that Jesus clearly taught he was the Only Way to God, Heaven and Peace.
This subject has been readdressed in my study of Church History. In Second Century Christianity by Robert Grant it shares a story of James the brother of Jesus and the first Bishop of Jerusalem:
The ancient fragment by Hegesippus, a 2nd Century Christian and one of the earliest Christian historians after the Apostolic Gospels and Acts
(Eusibius and Jerome recall his work of five volumes of memoirs related to the Christian movement, yet all of it has been lost to modern knowledge, save the fragment recorded by Eusibius in his Church history in the 3rd Century)
Hegesippus recounts the life and martyrdom of James. James was known as the Just and was known to be a fervent man of prayer, praying so often and long that "his knees grew hard as a camel's."
Hegesippus also records James several times using the term "Door of Jesus."
This stood out to me at the time of reading, probably because it is not a common Christian phrase or term (that I've hear at least) today.
Some time later, I was sitting in chapel at my alma mater, North Central University, and had just finished listening to a wonderful sermon during a conference held there. Suddenly it hit me ... an evangelistic ephiphany! Of course, it's as if it was there all along, beckoning to teach me.
What Larry King can't believe or comprehend is that Christians today (approximately 1/3 of the world's population) would say the other 2/3 are going to hell if they don't choose Christ, is actually "kind" in a sense compared to what the Apostles, in their day, taught.
The Apostles during the early years of Christianity first proclaimed to a world with less than a thousand Christians (a tiny minority and a tiny percentage). They were not telling 2 out of 3 people this, they were telling 999 out of 1,000.
The truth is the truth is the truth.
Jesus had so lodged the truth of the Door in their hearts that they couldn't help but proclaim it - not to condemn a world, but to save it (John 3:17).
The message isn't that the world is going to hell ... the message is that Jesus is the Door and that no one needs to go to hell, except for their own choosing.