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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Inclusivism and Saving Faith

One of the primary research projects I have been working on over the past semester is the role of saving faith in inclusivism. One of the major arguments inclusivism makes is that explicit knowledge of Jesus Christ is not necessary for a person to be saved. In other words, people can be saved without ever knowing of Jesus Christ, who He is or what He came to do, and can benefit from His substitutionary atonement on their behalf (i.e. Jesus is an ontological necessity but not an epistemological necessity). There are several ways in which inclusivists make their argument, and supporters of this position range from Roman Catholic theologians to Reformed theologians. The people I am critiquing for an upcoming paper include: Roman Catholic theologian Karl Rahner and his anonymous implicit faith, Open Theist Clark Pinnock and his “faith principle”, Open Theist John Sanders and his “believer”/"Christian” dichotomy, Neal Punt and his “biblical universalism,” and Reformed theologian Terrance Tiessen and his “universally sufficient grace” view. There are other theologians which I will exclude for the sake of this paper that are noteworthy including Roman Catholic theologians Hans Kuhn, Gavin D’Costa, and Jacques Dupuis, Charismatic theologian Amos Yong and his pneumatological salvation, and other proponents of “divine perseverance” or “post-mortem encounter/evangelism (PME). I will argue that changing the nature of saving faith carries with it sweeping soteriological consequences, including a misrepresentation of the nature of God, a conflation of God’s revelation, a unbiblical view of man and sin, a reformulation of the gospel, and a trivialization of Christian mission. Some of the key elements in the inclusivist position include God’s universal salvific will (along with universal access requirement), the idea of “holy pagans,” emphasis on general revelation, premessianic believers, the “radical love of God,” “chronologically displaced persons” (also called “transdispensationalism”), doctrine of inculpable unbelief, rejection of filioque, the “cosmic work of Christ,” and the “finality of Christ.” Inclusivists also argue that the early church fathers before Augustine were inclusivists (Irenaus, Clement of Alexandria, and Justin Martyr for example). However, the watershed moment for contemporary inclusivism came with Vatican II and eventually made its way into Protestantism and evangelicalism towards the end of the 20th century. Obviously, as you can tell, I am not an inclusivist. However, according to many statistics, a large number of Christians, even conservative Christians, have revealed through polling that they are inclusivists. Also, the fate of the unevangelized is one largest looming questions in evangelical theology as well as one of the greatest objections to those rejecting the gospel. Consequently, I thought that I would post some of the arguments made by inclusivists on my blog for interaction and discussion. We need to understand the arguments being made and be able to biblically engage the ideas (and refute when necessary) with a thorough and careful examination. I hope that the future posts could foster good discussion, but more importantly cause us to precisely define, defend, and declare the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith.


Blogger David said...

I read the first part of this post and it made my head hurt! :)

I for one will appreciate your posts on the subject of inclusivism. I am in an area where "New Age" ideology runs rampant with two cults located nearby that promote many and I mean many unusual thoughts on reaching God (not necessarily through a specific salvation experience). Their views obviously never include Christ as a necessity.

Understanding the arguments of inclusivism will help to biblically substantiate a response. For me, if Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life - no one comes to the Father but by him, this implies (at least in a general sense to me) that some degree of precognition is required. Maybe even further emphasized that the Father "draws" them to the Son.

I look forward to more detailed discussion on the subject. It stands to help me out a great deal.

11/05/2006 09:04:00 PM


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