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THEOLOGY III Professor Christopher Ullman
Credit to these presentations is due: 49C0.../jesus_only_savior.ppt 49C0.../jesus_only_savior.ppt pt pt tqra.html tqra.html
Text Reviewed in this Presentation: What About Those Who Have Never Heard? What About Those Who Have Never Heard? Three Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelized Edited by Gabriel Fackre, Ronald H. Nash and John SandersGabriel FackreRonald H. Nash John Sanders
Relevant teachings… "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." (Mark 10:15) "I [Jesus] am the way and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
Relevant teachings… "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:15-16)
Traditional views… For most of its history, Christianity has been an "exclusive" religion. That is, it has taught that salvation is available only to Christians. Thus, from the very beginning, Christians attached great importance to spreading the news about Christianity through missionary and evangelistic efforts, believing that people were lost without it.
Modern views… Today, in the age of religious pluralism and increased knowledge of other faiths, a significant number of Christians, Catholic and Protestant alike, believe it is not necessary that a person believe in Christ in order to be saved. Such Christians usually maintain belief in the validity and truth of Christian salvation, but hold that Christ can save people whether or not they know his name. Others hold more conservative views. The various Christian perspectives of other religions are sometimes placed in the categories of pluralism, inclusivism (sometimes differentiated from particularism), and exclusivism.
"Exclusivism" is the diametric opposite of pluralism, holding that salvation is only through explicit faith in Christ.
"Inclusivism" holds that while Christ is the only way to salvation, people of other faiths may be saved.
"Pluralism" is the view that there are many, equally valid paths to God. Christianity is only one of these, and is no more superior than the others. The foremost proponent of this view is John Hick ?
Ecumenism… The movement or tendency toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation is known as ecumenism. There is a Greek word oikos, meaning “household”; and closely related to it is oikoumene, meaning “the inhabited world.” From the latter is derived the relatively modern term ecumenism, which is used by Christian denominations to suggest the whole “household of God.”
The Destiny of the Unevangelized Restrictivism God doesn’t save those who fail to hear of Jesus and come to faith in Him before they die Scriptural support John 14:6 Acts 4:12 Romans 10:13-15 1 John 5:11-12
Restrictivist: Ronald Nash Ronald Nash represents the restrictivist position ker/ron-nash ker/ron-nash Nash taught theology and philosophy for four decades at three schools. He was chairman of the department of philosophy and religion and director of graduate studies in humanities at Western Kentucky University, where he was on faculty from He was a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary from and at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from
The Destiny of the Unevangelized Universal Opportunity Before Death All people are given a chance to be saved by God’s sending the gospel, one way or another, or by middle knowledge Scriptural support Daniel 2 – Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (especially vss. 21 & 47) Acts 8:26-39 – Ethiopian eunuch Rev. 1:1 – God can send an angel
Challenges General revelation is enough to condemn a person (Romans 1), but not to save a person? What about Old Testament believers? Scripture is pretty plain that the first coming and death of the Messiah was not expected by anyone Cornelius may have been saved before Peter arrived (Acts 10: Non-Jews in the Old Testament did not have to become part of Israel to be saved (Job, etc.) Restrictivism To be saved today, a person must directly know and accept the facts about Jesus.
Inclusivism Inclusivism The unevangelized may be saved by responding to God based on the revelation they have Scriptural support John 12:32 Acts 10:43 1 Tim. 4:10 Parables
Inclusivist - John Sanders Released from Huntington University for his vigorous promotion of open theism Now a visiting professor at UMC Hendrix College Narrowly avoided expulsion from ETS Believes the effects of Christ’s atonement are not limited to those who bear the external “badges” of being “Christians”
Criticisms of Sanders’ Inclusivism Poor exegesis of the parables, Pharaoh’s hardening, premessianic believers: they don’t teach inclusivism, but do teach God’s love for and desire to save lost humanity Premessianic Jews/God = Unevangelized/God??? Infants/God = Unevangelized/God??? Mentally incompetent/God = Unevangelized/God??? Smuggles in a requirement of belief in a personal God, but can’t account for this in impersonal Hinduism, nontheistic Buddhism, etc.
Criticisms of Sanders’ Inclusivism Strangely silent on the nature of the Fall Faith principle lacks support, is contrary to Rom. 10:9-13 General revelation is made virtually contentless Inclusivism seems to blend in with universalism Fallacies employed: strawman, complex question, false dichotomy, word-loading, quoting out of context Inclusivism diminishes greatly the value of preaching the Gospel
Buddhists in Heaven? Christian Inclusivism is the view that though Jesus is the exclusive Savior, nonetheless many are included in His salvation who have never explicitly trusted in Him, nor perhaps even heard of Him.
Buddhists in Heaven? Inclusivists believe that God accepts an “implicit” faith in lieu of explicit faith in Christ. This may be in the form of a response to God’s general revelation through creation or conscience, or through truth in other religions... or through some other means. Most inclusivists believe that Scripture supports their view.
Biblical Inclusivism? Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18ff) and Jethro (Exod. 2–3) are referred to as priests of the true God, outside of Israel. But it must be pointed out that these men lived and served as priests before the founding of the nation Israel, and that they are described as believing in the same God as Abraham and Moses (cf. Gen. 14:19,22).
Biblical Inclusivism? Naaman the Syrian is cited as an example of an “implicit” believer outside of Israel (2 Kings 5). But it is clear that he came to an explicit faith in the God of Israel (cf. 2 Kings 5:15,17). The repentant Ninevites are often cited as believers outside Israel (the book of Jonah). But it is clear that they came to an explicit faith in the God whom Jonah preached (Jonah 3:5), just as Naaman had.
Biblical Inclusivism? The Magi who came to worship the newborn Jesus are sometimes referred to as “implicit” believers. But it is clear that though their prior beliefs were no doubt pagan in nature, they were seeking the true God, and were directed by Him to His Messiah, Jesus.
Biblical Inclusivism? Cornelius the Centurion is perhaps cited more than any biblical figure as an example of one who had come to “faith” before hearing of Christ. It is true that he is referred to as a “pious” man before hearing the gospel (Acts 10:2).
Biblical Inclusivism? But though he was in touch with the true God, he did not receive salvation until he heard the message about Christ through Peter. The angel who prepared Cornelius for Peter’s visit told him that he would bring him the message through which he would be saved (Acts 11:13–14). This is exactly what occurred (Acts 10:43–44).
Postmortem Evangelism Postmortem Evangelism The unevangelized get a chance to believe in Jesus after dying Scriptural support John 3:18 – Whoever believes in Him is not condemned 1 Peter 3:18-20 & 4:6 – Christ preached to the dead Romans 8:38 John 5:25 – The dead will get a chance to hear
PME’s Gabriel Fackre Professor of Theology at Andover Newton Theological Seminary (liberal non- denominational stance) Student body is 38% Congregationalist, 24% Unitarian Universalist Ties to American Baptist Churches USA and United Church of Christ denominations Believes a “canonical reading” of Bible illuminated by the “analogy of faith” will show Christ preaches the Gospel to the unevangelized after they die
Criticisms of Fackre’s PME Founds a theological doctrine on a problematic portion of Scripture (1 Peter 3:18-20 and 4:6) Extends the Noahic Covenant unbiblically (pp ) Employs novel interpretations of Scriptures 1 Cor. 1:25 (84) 1 Cor. 15:19 (84) John 10:16 (85) John 5:25 (85) Acts 14:17 (90)
Criticisms of Fackre’s PME If Christ preaches to the unevangelized after death, why risk doing it now? The Christian missions imperative is gutted (93-94) Verges on irrationalism (95) Depreciates the value of premortem conversion Depreciates the value of premortem sanctification Seemingly ignores Luke 16:19-31 Heb. 9:27 Matt. 7:15-20, 21-23, 24-27, 13:24-30, 24;41-46
Universalism Universalism All people will in fact be saved by Jesus. No one is damned forever. Scriptural support Rom. 5:18 – Life for all men 1 Cor. 15:22 – All will be made alive 1 John 2:2 – For the sins of the whole world
Five Scriptural Teachings Find the Bible verses that teach the following lessons
Five Scriptural Teachings The True Light enlightens everyone: everyone has heard People love darkness more than God’s light: turn deaf ear to God’s voice
Five Scriptural Teachings Judgment is proportionate to intensity of light seen and clarity of Word heard 1. What God does is just by definition 2. God judges on what we do with what we have, not what have not 3. People will be judged on basis of what they have done with divine revelation
Five Scriptural Teachings Missionary calling to proclaim gospel is vital (not essential) to plan of God Paul’s “Silver Chain” of Exclusivism – Rom ?:13-16 Everyone who calls on Lord will be saved How will they call on one they have not believed in How can they believe in one they have not heard of How can they hear without someone proclaiming message How can they proclaim without someone being sent Possible that grace may be effective apart from typical Gospel proclamation God may save for the sake of Christ, those who never heard, but responded fully and faithfully to light they had – in obedience to truth known
Five Scriptural Teachings Only by hearing and believing in Christ during this life can we be saved Lord’s commission leaves believers with no alternative Must proclaim Lord’s command leaves unbelievers with no alternative Must hear and believe
The Case of Cornelius Acts 10:1 – 11:18 Was Peter’s trip to Caesarea to preach to the God-fearing Cornelius “necessary”? Some say NO Mercy arguments for un-evangelized righteous Some say YES Cornelius already “saved” in some sense, but lesson for Peter and Church As opportunity to affirm age of Holy Spirit Cornelius still lost, as God-fearing Gentile (vs )
The Case of the Athenians Acts 17:16-34 Was Paul’s sermon necessary in Athens? “All religions shine considerable spiritual light on the character of true God” “Don’t discount the spiritual and ethical currency in non-Christian traditions” Sermon is clear on point of need of salvation message In day of ignorance, God winked… now commanding repentance Men must respond to as much light as God has given or lose the light.
The Soteriological Problem of Evil 1. God is All-loving (omnibenevolent) All-knowing (omniscient) All-powerful (omnipotent) 2. Jesus is the only Savior 3. No one is saved who has not professed faith in Jesus 4. Those who don’t hear about Jesus cannot profess their faith in Jesus 5. A large proportion of those who have lived will not be saved 6. “Statement 5 conflicts with Statement 1”
One Solution God loves us so much as His creation that He will not coerce us to choose Him Coercion would violate the precious faculty of choice He endowed us with Coercion would be tantamount to divine rape He chooses rather to woo us
So … where does all this leave us? God is all good, powerful, and knowing. We should not believe He is limited by geography or historical times with respect to Him calling Christ’s Bride to Himself Humankind knows that God exists and are without excuse The only salvation path to God exists in the finished work of Jesus Christ Humankind is fallen and incapable of receiving God’s gift of salvation on its own. Prevenient grace is the only way a person comes to seek God – they are first sought by Him God’s plan of salvation includes a design where not all will be saved; in fact, few will be saved, and many will be lost, but all nations will be represented in God’s eternity Post-mortem evangelism is an untenable position to hold In prior eras, God called to Himself those who put their trust in Him with no direct knowledge of Jesus After the cross, the pattern in Scripture appears to be a sending of the Gospel message to those who respond to whatever light they are given
Nine Questions: 1. People before Christ? 2. Infants? 3. Mentally deficient? 4. Unreached? 5. Sincere people? 6. Second chance? 7. Unreached, like OT saints? 8. Sovereignty/responsibility? 9. How many will be saved? 44
The Bible, God’s Word, is our ultimate authority in answering these questions. 45 “What does the Scripture say?” Romans 4:3 “[The Bereans] searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29 46
People before Christ (Revelation 13:8; Galatians 3:6-9; Hebrews 10:12,14) 47
Before the Death of Christ “Then he [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. (Gen 15:6) “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Will be delivered; “ (Joel 2:32) “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Heb 10:4). “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;” (Rom. 3:25). Greek: “passed over” = “letting go unpunished” “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,” (Acts 17:30) “In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness” (Acts 14:16) Only Jews? No, Jonah sent to the Gentile city of Nineveh “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.” (Heb 11:1-2).
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14) 1.Acknowledgement of God 2.Acknowledgement of sin 3.Acknowledgement of faith δικαιόω;dikaioo: same word used in Romans 3:28 Before the Death of Christ
“Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, “Cornelius!” And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. “Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; ” (Acts 10:1–5) “There was an Ethiopian eunuch... and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. ” (Acts 8:27–31) After the Death of Christ
“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”— that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.” But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, By a nation without understanding will I anger you.” And Isaiah is very bold and says, “I was found by those who did not seek Me, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” ” (Romans 10:8–20) After the Death of Christ
A few other Scriptures to consider… “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,” (Acts 17:30) “In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; “ (Acts 14:16) The pattern of divine direction and intervention beyond Cornelius and the Ethiopian eunich: Paul’s Macedonian vision (Acts 16): “A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” ” (Acts 16:9) Sovereignty of God: “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. “ (Acts 17:26, NIV) After the Death of Christ
Infants and People with mental deficiencies (Romans 3:23; Psalm 51:5; Isaiah 7:15, 16; Romans 5:18) 53
So … what happens to babies/small children when they die? “Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it.” (Deut. 1:39) “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. “ (Rev. 20:12-13) “But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Sam. 12:23). David went to Heaven: “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;” (Psalm 16:11) “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good…” (Isaiah 7:16) “Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains’”. (John 9:41) The most accepted view is that all babies/small children who prematurely die enter Heaven. The key teaching appears to be that punishment in the next life is predicated on the evils committed in this life and not for the inherited sin nature, and that infants/small children cannot believe with faith.
So … what happens to the mentally challenged when they die? “Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains’”. (John 9:41) There is no clear directive from Scripture on this note, however some of the concepts that apply to infants / children apply here as some of those operate on the same level with respect to having a knowledge of true good/evil.
UNREACHED 1. Are lost. 2. Are not promised a second chance. 3. Will be judged according to their knowledge of God. 4. Will experience varying degrees of punishment in Hell. 5. Are loved by God. 56
UNREACHED 6. If responsive, will hear the gospel. 7. Will remain unreached unless we reach them. 57
One Last Assertion… If you had been born in Saudi Arabia, you’d be a Muslim just like you’re a Christian since you’ve been born in America… Answer: No, how many people have been born in America who reject Christianity? There are many different political systems in the world, yet being born in a Communist country doesn’t negate a person’s ability to perceive the superiority of a better political system like democracy. If anything, what is true is the judgment America and other “Christian” nations will get for their rejection of God (Matt. 11:21-24)
Those who have never heard the gospel: 1. Are lost. (Romans 3:23; John 3:18) 59
Those who have never heard the gospel: 2. Are never promised a second chance after death. (Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 9:27) 60
Those who have never heard the gospel: 3. Will be judged according to the knowledge of God that they already have. (Romans 1-3) 61
All people have the knowledge of God Through creation (Romans 1:20) Through conscience (Romans 2:14,15) 62
Those who have never heard the gospel: 4. After death will experience varying degrees of punishment in Hell. (Romans 2:5; Matthew 11:20-24; Luke 12:47,48) 63
Those who have never heard the gospel: 5. Are loved by God who is not willing that any should perish. (John 3:1; II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4) 64
Those who have never heard the gospel: 6. Will be given more light if they respond positively to the light they already have. (Matt 5:6; Matt 7:7; Jeremiah 29:13; John 9:1-41; Hebrews 11:6) 65
Those who haven’t heard We sin with or without the Law, Rom. 2:12-15 None are innocent, Rom. 3:10-12, 23 Are those who ”live well” saved by works? “Seek and you will find,” He will send a – missionary, Acts 8:26-40, Acts 10 – a Bible, Ps. 119:130 – a vision, Dan 2:7 – an angel, Rev. 14
Three unreached seekers who heard the gospel: -The Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39) -Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48; 11:1-18) -Lydia (Acts 16:13-15, 40) 67
Those who have never heard the gospel: 7. Will remain unreached unless we take the gospel of Jesus to them. (Romans 10:13-17) 68