Trail Blazer Ministries
Base Camp for Life: A Spiritual Journey...

The Cloaked Stranger on the Road

This was initially written in reply to a point that Jesse raised on the "website update" thread concerning the potential salvation of someone of the Hindu faith. These are just my thoughts on the matter and are not conclusive by any means. I especially like the quote from Pope Benedict XVI that I've included at the bottom of the post, so if you'd like, feel free to skip over my comments and see what Pope Benny has said about this subject, because his remarks are pretty thought-provoking. Besides, how often do you get to hear a Baptist quoting the Pope? :-)

The issue of whether or not someone must profess the Christian religion in order to be "saved" is a subject that would require a much more detailed treatment then I am prepared to offer right now. Realizing that I'm stepping into a theological minefield, let me offer some preliminary thoughts on the subject.

As you know, I take seriously the Bible's claims that salvation is to be found in Christ alone, and in no other:

John 14:1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going."Jesus the Way to the Father 5Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" 6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

Verse six of the passage given above is often taken in isolation, but I quote it with the surrounding context to give you a better idea of what Christ is actually saying in this statement. The Father is known through the Son, and those desiring a relationship with God must recognize that Jesus is "emmanuel" - God with us. In other words, Jesus is our "contact point" with God, the place (or, rather, Person) in which God has agreed to meet with us. In order to have a saving encounter with God, we have to come to Him through Jesus God - God manifest in the flesh.

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

With that being said, I am willing to acknowledge that this "saving encounter" with Christ may play out in a variety of ways, and that God uses many means to draw men and women to Himself. There are times, I believe, when the Lord comes to us as the cloaked stranger on the road (Luke 24). We may spend years - or perhaps even a lifetime - walking beside Him without even knowing His name or His face. I believe that He will reveal himself to all of His children, including those without a full understanding, in His own good timing (Luke 24:31).

Certainly, this has been true of my own spiritual journey. Throughout my life, I have had a deep yearning (some might even call it an affliction) for something deeper and more beautiful than anything this world has to offer - something that we glimpse, from time to time, in this world, but which can only here be seen in shadows and reflections.

C.S. Lewis put it this way:"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."I believe this yearning for Something Greater is a common experience for many people, and it is through this yearning that God prepares the heart for its saving encounter with Christ.

So the Hindu, through his own faith tradition, may find himself yearning after God and seeking after that numinous Something that no earthly pleasure can satisfy. He may not, at first, comprehend Christianity, or he may even find himself rejecting it outright. But still the yearning remains, growing deeper by the day. St. Augustine described it as a God-shaped hole in the heart.

Then one day, the Hindu encounters that Stranger on the road - "emmanuel," God with us - and something inside of him intuitively knows that here at last is the Something (or the Someone) that he has been searching for all of his life. You see, God was drawing him all along and preparing his heart for this encounter with Christ, even in the man's Hindu context, by awakening a desire for God. All find what they truly seek, and those who desire the company of God will by no means be turned away.

I really like what Pope Benedict has said on this topic:"We want to commend to St. Augustine a further meditation on our psalm. In it, the Father of the Church introduces a surprising element of great timeliness: He knows that also among the inhabitants of Babylon there are people who are committed to peace and the good of the community, despite the fact that they do not share the biblical faith, that they do not know the hope of the Eternal City to which we aspire. They have a spark of desire for the unknown, for the greatest, for the transcendent, for a genuine redemption.And he says that among the persecutors, among the nonbelievers, there are people with this spark, with a kind of faith, of hope, in the measure that is possible for them in the circumstances in which they live. With this faith in an unknown reality, they are really on the way to the authentic Jerusalem, to Christ. And with this opening of hope, valid also for the Babylonians -- as Augustine calls them -- for those who do not know Christ, and not even God, and who nevertheless desire the unknown, the eternal, he exhorts us not to look only at the material things of the present moment, but to persevere in the path to God. Only with this greater hope can we transform this world in a just way." (

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