Thursday, March 29, 2007

Inclusivism and Universalism - Two Words You Should Know

Al Mohler wrote a great peice today explaining some recent statements by a former US President. You should read the whole article as it is an excellent example of identifying inclusivism in the contradictory statements this President makes concerning the Gospel.

Mohher goes on to explain universalism, the closely related (although one step further) position of so many in our day.

In doing so, he is modeling how you can reply to some of water-cooler theology that passes itself off as "all about love."


"In recent decades, some have attempted to argue that faith in Christ is indeed necessary for salvation, but this faith need not be explicit faith in Christ. This position, known as inclusivism, suggests that persons may know nothing of the Gospel, and yet be saved. This argument is often used to claim that adherents of other faiths and belief systems will be saved through the work of Christ, even though they may not hear of Him in this life. Many Roman Catholic theologians have adopted this argument. The late Karl Rahner put an interesting twist on the theme by suggesting that some persons are "anonymous Christians." These would be persons who now think themselves devotees of other belief systems but who are actually Christians who have no explicit faith in Christ. This argument cannot be squared with the biblical witness.

Universalists take the argument even further, with most arguing that all persons will be saved, completely without regard to faith in Christ...

The Apostle Paul refuted both inclusivism and universalism in Romans 10, where he insisted that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Paul explained that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ -- which means explicit knowledge of the Gospel. He explained that salvation comes to all those who confess with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead. Then, just in case we missed the obvious, Paul explains the missionary mandate -- a mandate completely undercut and contradicted by inclusivism and universalism...:

For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. [Romans 10:13-17]

The logic of Paul is clear. If they hear they may believe, but if they never hear they will never believe. And, if they never hear and believe, they will not be saved."

These are things we must think about carefully! To be washed away with worldly logic will ruin our hearts and the hearts of our hearers...