Dr. Ronald Nash’s book “Is Jesus the Only Savior” examines three particular views in regards to salvation: the pluralist, the inclusivist, and the exclusivist. The pluralist is a proclaimed Christian who is essentially a universalist: in the end, God wins and all will come to salvation no matter what religious belief you held on earth. Inclusivists see the modern world and wonder what will happen to all of those who have never had a chance to hear the Gospel. They reason that since God is loving and desires all to come to salvation, surely He will not damn all of those who never had a chance to hear the Gospel? Inclusivists believe that through general revelation and a tenet of faith in any other religious belief is good enough for salvation. Lastly, the exclusivist looks at the Bible and Christianity and holds that the only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
This book breaks down the first two view points in part one and part two with: an introduction of the doctrine, a refutation of the doctrine, and finally, a section entitled, “Why I am not a pluralist/inclusivist.” Each part looks at several theologians who ascribe to these belief systems. For example, John Hick is the target in Dr. Nash’s crosshairs for the first half of the book. In the second, men like Clark Pinnock and John Sanders are a heavy part of the discussion.
This is really a fascinating topic and Dr. Nash provides an interesting look at each position. I also believe this is a subject that is so pertinent to our world today. I was in Philadelphia this past week and met some ladies who are/used to be Catholic. One lady said that a religion class should be required for all students in high school to give them a rounded perspective of all the different beliefs. She also commented that it doesn’t matter what religious system you believe in. These are tell-tale signs of a pluralist.
Further, I had a discussion with a young man who said that there are probably “saved” Mormons. I’ve heard things like “When we get to heaven, I think we will be surprised to see Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists,” etc. This is obviously an inclusivist position.
This is an important topic that Dr. Nash does a fantastic job of hashing out how these two particular views are not biblical. When something doesn’t sit right with our humanness, the tendency is to fabricate doctrines that make us feel good. When we approach the Bible however, we must remember that while we may not understand everything, God is holy and loving and good and he is a perfect judge. In this sense we can have confidence that the judge of the earth will do what is right.
This is an awesome book that I highly recommend if you having lingering questions.