We were discussing at staff meeting yesterday the responses in an inter-faith dialog Greg took part in recently. The Jewish and Roman Catholic participants took issue with the sense of Greg's argument from the Bible that God's plan of salvation is narrow - through the Messiah's sacrifice. It just didn't make sense, they said, that God's offer would be so narrow.
That response surprises me from people who take the Bible seriously and believe in the Old Testament. They may not like the idea that God's offer of salvation is narrow. They may think the text is mistaken. But it's not a strange idea to Scripture. Just three quick examples of God's narrow offer of help.
The Passover: God's angel of death only passed over those houses that were marked with the blood of the lamb. Protection was only under the specific instructions God had given.
The Fiery Serpent: When the Israelites were bitten by snakes in the wilderness, the only way to survive the snakebite was to lift their eyes to the bronze serpent on the standard God had directed Moses to make. Those who didn't raise their eyes, died from snakebite.
The scapegoat: The priest was ordered to make provision for atonement for sin by presenting the scapegoat before the Lord, symbolically placing the sins of the nation on the goat, and then sending it into the wilderness. Only a goat, not a rabbit, or a dog, or some other convenient animal.
It's not a foreign idea in Scripture that God's provision for help is narrow. He offers the help when it's not deserved so it's on the terms He sets, as it was many times in Scripture. And His terms were quite consistently specific and narrow.