Christian exclusivism was bound to fade away over time, and to the chagrin of evangelicals like Albert Mohler, apparently it's doing just that, according to a new Pew survey. (Hat tip: The Lead and TitusOneNine.) Exclusivism's fade-out shouldn't surprise anyone. My own conjecture is that it's happening for two main reasons.
First, society is increasingly recognizing the dangers of accepting factual assertions purely on the say-so of some authority figure. This 'argument from authority,' however, seems to be the only way exclusivists ever present their case.
Exclusivists never point to specific non-Christian people who can be confirmed to be missing from heaven (let alone demonstrating that the reason they're missing is that they didn't accept Jesus as their savior). When asked if, say, Gandhi is in heaven, generally they'll hedge and (properly) say that the question is above their paygrade.
Neither do exclusivists offer evidence that any particular born-again Christians have successfully made it to heaven, and that their success is attributable to their belief in Jesus.
About the only thing the exclusivists ever do is cite the speculations of people who lived centuries ago. But they never offer a satisfying explanation why those particular ancients were in a better position to know than their non-believing contemporaries — or for that matter, why they were in a better position than we are today.
Second, the exclusivist claim simply doesn't jibe with common experience; that's certainly not dispositive, but it's definitely a fact that ought to be faced. Most of us are acquainted with non-Christians who are leading lives as exemplary and as blessed as anyone in the ranks of the born-again. On the other side of the coin, most of us know committed Christians whose lives are difficult and painful. And of course no one actually knows what happens after this life. We can hope and even conjecture that eternal happiness awaits us when we die. But anyone claiming to know for sure is operating on 'information' that isn't available to the rest of us, and painful experience has taught us that such 'information' isn't to be relied on, at least not when making big bets.
Bottom line: It's simply not credible for Christian exclusivists to claim that accepting Jesus is even a guaranteed path to eternal happiness, let alone that it's the only path. Unless exclusivists can come up with plausible support for their claim, they will end up in the same position as the odd millennialist who proclaims that The End Is Near.
Sure, some die-hard exclusivists will continue to insist that things really, really are that way. Most of the world, though, will smile indulgently and politely refrain from saying what they really think, which is that the die-hards are ... different.