Christians Cannot ‘Coexist’

Posted on April 27, 2020


By David Ettinger

Not So Simple
If you drive often, you have seen the ubiquitous “Coexist” bumper sticker which features symbols of the world’s major religions. The bumper sticker is almost impossible to miss; it seems that one in 10 or so cars proudly display it.

The call to “coexist” sounds reasonable and – if we take the word “co-exist” at its core – indeed is a rational appeal. However, simple “coexistence” is not the idea the bumper sticker is communicating, but something which wars against the foundations of Christianity. Because of this, Christians cannot “coexist.”

What is Meant By “Coexist”?
The central connotation of the term “coexist” is that people live peaceably together. As per the Bible, this is fine. The apostle Paul writes, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). We are to be respectful of all people, knowing they are God’s creation and should be held in civil regard. And indeed, most Christians “co-exist” wonderfully with unbelieving relatives, neighbors, and co-workers.

However, peaceful “coexistence” is not what is behind the bumper sticker. Rather, the idea being communicated is acceptance – blind acceptance. This infers an acceptance of all faiths as in “all religious beliefs are equal and all paths lead to God.” In other words, are you a Christian? Fine, you’re going to Heaven. Are you a Muslim? You, too, are going to Heaven. Are you a pagan or Wiccan? No problem. You are going to be just fine when you die.


Included in this “doctrine” is the belief that not only is all religions and beliefs just fine, but that adherents of each have no right to criticize those of others. If you are a Christian, you don’t have to agree with Islam, but you must certainly accept a person’s right to his beliefs.

However, Christianity will not condone this. In Christianity, there is only one way. Of course, all other religions make the same claim, but only Christianity can back it up (an explanation would require a separate discussion.) There is a definite “exclusiveness” associated with Christianity, but also a wonderful “inclusiveness.” Let’s look at both.

The “Inclusiveness” of Christianity
Christians are split on the nature of the work of Christ on the cross. Jesus famously said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Those who hold that Christ’s sacrifice was made for the entire world (as I do), believe the word “whoever” means just that: everyone who has ever lived. 1 John 2:2 supports this: “He [Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”


These verses appear clear; Christ died for the sins of the world, and anyone who accepts His sacrifice and bows the knee to Him will be saved. However, there are those who believe that Christ’s sacrifice is only for the “elect” (Ephesians 1). Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Those who support “limited atonement” see the word “many” as referring only to the elect. I disagree with this. I believe this verse is saying that though Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is universal, not everyone will accept it; “many” will, but many more won’t.

Taking John 3:16 and 1 John 2:2 at face value, the strong indication is that Christ’s sacrifice was made for every human being who ever lived. If this is the case, Christianity is the most “inclusive” religion on the face of the earth. We see this “inclusiveness” in Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, italic added).

The “Exclusiveness” of Christianity
However, there can be no mistaking the means by which salvation is obtained, and there is nothing “inclusive” about it. All roads do not lead to Heaven, as the “coexist” advocates proclaim; there is but one way, and one way only.


In John 14:6, Jesus says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is no other way to read this; Christ is the only way to salvation. In John 3:36, Jesus says: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” There is no mincing of words; Christ is the only way. The apostle Peter affirms: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, italics added). There is no “backdoor” to Heaven; the door is Christ and no other. And once more, Jesus says, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

So Much for “Coexisting”
The Bible is clear, and Christians can never compromise the overwhelming truth that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternity in Heaven. There is no other way. As Christians, we cannot coexist with other faiths if this means accepting that the souls of their adherents will be just fine when their time on Earth is over.

We must lovingly and boldly reject such notions of “coexistence” and forthrightly proclaim the truth of Christ as the only way. To the world in general, this message is hated, but there are those whose hearts and ears God has opened, and they will listen.

May God bless you as you seek opportunities to share His truth and love with a lost, dark, and dying world.