The Gospel of Jesus Christ is, by nature, exclusive. By this I mean that, according to the Scriptures, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only means by which anyone can have peace with God. Jesus taught that nobody comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). John tells us that those who believe in Christ have life, but those who do not believe bear the wrath of God (John 3:36). Paul tells us that by faith in Christ we have peace with God because we are united to Christ, justified, and reconciled to God through his death (Romans 5:1-10), and that those who are not believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit do not belong to God and cannot please him (Romans 8:1-11).
The Scriptures teach of no other way for sinful humanity to be justified in God’s sight outside of placing personal faith in Jesus Christ and his propitiatory sacrifice and resurrection on behalf of sinners.
Inclusivism is the belief that others can be saved without professing Christ, without even knowing anything about Christ. Inclusivism is a doctrine which says that people can be saved by Jesus with no knowledge of Jesus or the gospel, but by responding to the light they have positively.
Inclusivism is foreign to the Scriptures.
Bruxy Cavey teaches Inclusivism.
Sheep who don’t Know Jesus
In his most recent sermon at The Meeting House titled Reunion #5 – Kingdom Manifesto, Bruxy Cavey held a brief question-and-answer period at the end of his sermon, as he very often does. Starting at the 29:30 mark the question was asked:
“Is God’s love really unconditional? How can it be unconditional if people who choose not to repent are considered lost? If we say that God’s love is unconditional, is that not Universalism?”
It’s a good question! A question to which a solid, biblical answer can be given. It is easy to see why the questioner would be confused by this if she has been sitting under Bruxy Cavey’s teaching. If God loves everyone exactly the same way, and that love is unconditional, as Bruxy teaches, then why doesn’t God just save everyone whether they repent or not? Isn’t repentance a condition? Isn’t belief or reciprocating God’s love a condition? Bruxy’s position is inconsistent and the questioner realizes that to some extent. There is a solid, biblical answer to this question. But that’s not what we are going to get from Bruxy because Bruxy’s presuppositions about God are not biblical and so will not allow him to give the biblical response. Instead we get a brief explanation that free will (read libertarian free will) is necessary for love to be genuine and for us to be able to say that man is made in God’s image. Both of these are philosophical presuppositions not supported by Scripture. Then Bruxy says this:
“The Bible is clear, he loves all ‘For God so loved the world’ we see it in John 3:16 right? God so loves the world that he sent Jesus and then you have, the choice now begins, so that whoever believes will have eternal life. God loves the world so he offers Christ to all. You say ‘well wait a second, not everybody is hearing about Christ’ you’re right! There’s two responses to that – ‘we need to pick up the pace’ – that’s the first response. The second response is ‘everyone is having an encounter with Christ, whether they know him by that name or not’. Everyone is having some opportunity to learn something about who God is and who Jesus is.”
It is true that all people have an opportunity to learn something about God. That’s what Romans 1 teaches. All men know God because God has revealed himself to them. Because of this nobody has an excuse before him. But that’s not where Bruxy takes it from here. He continues:
“In Matthew 25 in the parable of the sheep and the goats you have these two groups of people who don’t know anything about Jesus but have either been relating to him or serving him or rejecting him their whole life even though neither group knows anything about who he is.
For instance, when I grew up I thought they were subgroups of Christians, I don’t know if you were taught that growing up – the sheep and the goats are like, it’s like a further judgment of Christians and the bad Christians are kicked out and the good Christians stay. The challenge with that interpretation is it’s just not what Matthew 25 says. It’s called the judgment of the nations, that all the nations are brought together, which is usually an idiom for the pagans or the people out there who don’t believe. The judgment of the nations. And what we see at least from the story is that neither the sheep and the goats know anything about the parable of the sheep and the goats! They’re not people who have been reading the Bible or studying the teachings of Jesus. Both groups are shocked. Both groups are saying ‘WHAT!?’. Like the sheep are saying ‘when did we worship you, when did we serve you, when did we love you, when did we visit you in prison, when did we feed you, when did we take care of you? We didn’t do that!’ And Jesus says ‘you did it when you loved the least of these, when you served I received it as worship to myself’.
So, everyone is having an opportunity to respond to the prompting, to the leading, to the guiding, at the end of John’s Gospel in John 16 Jesus says ‘the Holy Spirit when he comes will convict the world.’ Jesus says ‘when I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself.’ Everyone is already in a place where they are making choices that are leading them towards or away from. God will not override that will but he will love them enough to come to them in various forms, but the clearest, most compelling form that gives assurance of salvation is the gospel itself. So we don’t use this teaching as a way of saying ‘well God will carry out the great commission then, he doesn’t need us.’ We would love to go straight there, wouldn’t we? Except he says ‘no, I’ve designed to partner with my image-bearers. Let’s do this together, this is a good news message that people need to hear. It’ll change their life.’ Because we don’t want them to just hear the good news when they die and realize ‘Oh! I wish I had known sooner.’ We want them to have the opportunity to know that their eternal life can start now and enter into the kingdom in this world, not just be given fire insurance for after they die.”
Someone from the congregation reminds him that the question was about universalism, so Bruxy responds:
“Oh, um, yes I think that I’m not a Universalist. I am a hopeful Universalist – I wish it were true. I would like to believe it’s true. This sticky business of free will is what holds me back and there’s a number of passages i think, my best interpretation of them holds me back from understanding the New Testament as teaching absolute Universalism.”
Bruxy here uses Matthew 25:31-46 to teach that people who don’t know anything about Jesus at all can be serving him, without having faith in him, and be saved on account of that. At first I wondered if this teaching was a one-off, just a sloppy answer to an unexpected question, but then I remembered this video from 2015 and was directed to this radio interview. In both he teaches this exact same thing about the exact same text.
Let’s see if his interpretation of the text holds water.
Bruxy doesn’t answer the question
I must point out that Bruxy didn’t answer the question at all. The question was why doesn’t God save everyone if his love for everyone is unconditional. Bruxy answers by literally giving conditions he thinks the sheep, ignorant of Christ, must meet in order to enter into eternal life – serving others, loving their neighbour, etc. So the question remains, if Bruxy’s view of God’s unconditional, identical love for all people is correct, why is anyone lost? And a new question arises – what’s with these conditions?
“It’s just not what Matthew 25 Says”
In his sermon, Bruxy offers an alternative interpretation that he says he rejects based on the fact that it is not what the text says. Here I would agree whole-heartedly! The text does not teach that the sheep and goats are both Christians. But, Bruxy’s interpretation is no more what the text says than the alternative he presents. In Bruxy’s interpretation neither the sheep nor the goats are Christians! According to Bruxy this text teaches that neither group knows anything whatsoever about Jesus, but where does the text say this? Sure, the sheep and goats come from all nations, this hardly necessitates that they are ignorant of Christ. The gospel before the final judgment will have gone out to the nations. The text is clear, the sheep and goats, in either serving or neglecting Jesus’ brethren, that is, believers (Hebrews 2:11), were either serving or neglecting Jesus himself. While they were not understanding that this was the case, that hardly means that they had no knowledge of Jesus at all. Why is this idea being imposed on the text?
Also, the text does not teach that the sheep are accepted by Christ because of their actions. In this text, Jesus is explaining that the righteous, the redeemed, the regenerate believers behaved a certain way towards other believers while the goats did not. In serving each other, believers are serving Christ because we are all members of one body with Christ as our head (Colossians 1:18).
It is even erroneous to call this “the Parable of the Sheep and Goats”. Where does the text say it is a parable? What in the text would imply this? Jesus is actually communicating exactly what will happen at the final judgment. He starts this pericope by saying “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.”(v 31-33) This is clearly not a parable at all, but Christ actually describing a future event.
Since Bruxy goes straight to Matthew 25:31-46 to teach this inclusivist doctrine I think it is safe to assume that he feels this is one of the strongest texts to support it. Unfortunately, it is a twisting of the text loaded with unfounded presuppositions.
Saved by… Service Alone?
Bruxy’s interpretation leaves a lot of questions as to how these sheep, who have no knowledge of Jesus at all, are saved. It is clear in the text that the sheep are saved, as they are called “righteous” by Christ in the context of the final judgment (v 37) and are ushered into eternal life (v 46). But what makes them righteous? Is it their own righteousness? Is Christ’s righteousness imputed to them even though they have no knowledge of him? The Scriptures know of no other means of salvation outside of God’s gracious imputation of our sins to Christ and his righteousness to us through faith in Christ alone. How can they place their faith in someone of whom they have no knowledge?
Romans 10:14-17 addresses this directly. After explaining that all who call on Christ in faith will be saved Paul says:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?And how are they to hear without someone preaching?And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says,“Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
We see here that faith in Christ requires knowledge of Christ, and that it is hearing the word of Christ that brings faith. Biblical faith is trust (Bruxy himself defines it this way in at 39:05 of this radio interview), and to trust we must know who we are trusting and what he has promised. Even Abraham and other Old Testament saints were saved because they knew God and trusted what he promised, and so their faith was in the true God who had communicated promises to them. It follows then that if people are saved without knowledge of Christ, then they are saved without faith in Christ. Christ is the lone object of salvific faith in Scripture, so if they do not have faith in Christ, they must be saved by some other means outside of faith.
In fact, Bruxy says Jesus accepts their service as worship of himself. In the video from 2015 Bruxy says that the sheep and goats, ignorant of Christ,
“will be judged based on how they lived their lives, how they served Jesus even though they didn’t know Jesus or know about him. Those who loved their neighbour as their self, who took care of the poor and the imprisoned, and who helped people in practical ways around them and dedicated their lives to living out the love they knew they should – they’re called the sheep. Now, they don’t know Jesus, and when Jesus says ‘You’ve been worshiping me this whole time’ they say ‘How, where, when did I do that?’ and he is able to tell them about how they loved him even thought they didn’t recognize him. Loving others who Jesus loves is a way we love Jesus.” – What Happens to Those Who are Never Introduced to Jesus?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCJxmvy3cLw (1:29)
In a radio interview Bruxy explains,
“Matthew chapter 25 tells the parable of the sheep and the goats. The sheep and the goats are two people that are judged on judgment day based on how they lived their lives in loving the least fortunate around them. And it appears if you read the passage that none of them are professing Christians, they are two groups of peoplewho are judged based on how they unwittingly served Jesus in their life. So Jesus is the only way to be saved, Jesus is the centerpiece, he’s the judge on judgment day, but he is gracious to those people who served him even though they didn’t know him… These are two groups of people that Jesus says ‘I’m the one who will save you, youre serving me by just loving the least fortunate around you, I take that as personal worship of me.’ ” – The Drew Marshall Show, June 10, 2017 (38:08)
This seems to go beyond Inclusivism to something else. Apparently these sheep are saved not by faith, but by their service and love for others. In other words – by works. They have knowledge of God’s law because God has given them a conscience (Romans 2:14-15), and they are saved by obeying that law – love your neighbour as yourself (Leviticus 19:18) – and so receive the favour of Christ. That is the only possible conclusion. This runs contrary to Scripture which teaches that the believer is indwelt by the Spirit of God which is always accompanied by faith in Christ. Because the Spirit of Christ indwells us, Christ has fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law for us. Apart from the indwelling Spirit a person cannot please God, is hostile to God, doesn’t belong to God, and has their mind on the flesh which brings death (Romans 8:1-14). Based on this and many, many other texts we can say that if a anyone were “judged based on how they lived their lives, how they served Jesus even though they didn’t know Jesus or know about him” that person would be condemned without question! Bruxy, on the other hand is saying that unbelievers can actually please God and offer acceptable worship to Christ by “living out the love they knew they should” and receive eternal life.
According to this teaching, the answer to the question “does righteousness come through the law?” is “for some people, yes!”. The Scriptures say that this teaching nullifies the grace of God, “for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” (Galatians 2:20-21)
This is a false gospel, and Bruxy Cavey is preaching it.
Preach the gospel because it changes lives and gives assurance?
So, why preach the gospel? Bruxy’s answer is because God wants to change people’s lives so their eternal life can start here and now instead of when they die. This, of course, is predicated on his false assumption that they were actually worshiping Christ in ignorance before they died. For these people who would receive eternal life anyways because they are doing the right things, we preach Christ only so that they can live a more fulfilled life with better understanding of what they are already doing so that they can have the assurance of salvation that knowledge of Christ offers.
“we want non-believers to hear the gospel, the message of Jesus, because we believe it is the only way that someone can have assurance of salvation. What I say to friends who ask is ‘apart from Christ, I can’t assure you of hell, but I can only assure you of heaven with Christ’.” – What Happens to Those Who are Never Introduced to Jesus? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCJxmvy3cLw (1:02)
Note also, if these sheep need knowledge of Christ to have assurance, then they are not indwelt by the Spirit prior to their receiving that knowledge. It is the work of the Spirit to give us assurance that we belong to God (Romans 8:14-17).
Again, a teaching from Bruxy which finds no support in the Scriptures, but is totally refuted by Scripture.
Bruxy’s teaching on Matthew 25:31-46 is truly troubling. Not only is it a blatant twisting of the Scriptures, but it makes a mockery of the gospel, teaching that people will be saved with no knowledge of Christ whatsoever. On top of that, it distorts the true purpose of preaching the gospel to the world. Finally, it has caused Bruxy Cavey to teach that people are accepted by Christ due to their acceptable worship of him outside of faith in him, outside of the indwelling of the Spirit of God, outside of union with Christ in death, and outside of his righteousness imputed to them. This is works salvation.
In taking this inclusivist position, especially when considering other teachings he espouses, Bruxy Cavey has demonstrated that he truly does not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, and does not get his doctrines from a sound exegesis of the text of Scripture. When we take this doctrine with others he teaches and compare them to Scripture it is hard to even recognize whether this is supposed to be biblical Christianity or not.