Regarding those who have never heard...

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Alive in Christ, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. Alive in Christ

    Alive in Christ
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    This issue has come up before, and the topic produced what I thought was interesting conversation...without vitriol and mean spiritedness.

    So, as a result of some new material I have come across, I thought I would ressurect the topic again.

    Here is a start...the entirety is linked below.

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    THE CASE FOR INCLUSIVISM

    The majority of evangelicals today seem to be hardline restrictivists, believing that only a few will be saved and all the unevangelized will be {61} damned.

    The only possibility for encountering God and receiving salvation in the restrictivist view is by exercising explicit faith in Jesus Christ in this life.
    Sanders and Pinnock, following the lead of Anderson, affirm that the Bible presents a much more hopeful picture than restrictionists present. God includes before He excludes. “All are included in God’s grace and only those who spurn this grace are excluded in judgment,” stated Sanders in a paper given at the 1992 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.

    “Because of the work of Christ, God accepts all. Only those who decline to accept God’s grace are excluded.”


    Inclusivism is presented within the framework of two axioms: The love of God for all humanity, and salvation found only in Christ. People are saved, whether they hear of Christ or not, through “the faith principle” i.e., they fulfill the conditions of Hebrews 11:6: they believe God exists and that he rewards those who seek Him. “Holy pagans” in the Old Testament are cited in Hebrews as examples of faith we should emulate. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Job, Melchizedek, Jethro, Abimelech, and Naaman sought after God and Paul declares that all who do likewise will receive eternal life, because God shows no partiality (Romans 2:6-8).

    These God-seekers were saved by faith without any knowledge of Christ, says Pinnock, so in the same way today, people who are spiritually ‘Before Christ’ even though chronologically ‘After Christ’ can trust in God on the basis of the light they have. Premessianic Jews were saved by faith in God even though they knew very little about Christ. Though they never confessed the Saviour, they were nevertheless saved by His redemption.


    Much is made of the Cornelius story (Acts 10). Pinnock calls Cornelius “the pagan saint par excellence of the New Testament” (p. 165). God had accepted Cornelius’ prayers and alms (Acts 10:4) yet Peter was commanded to preach Christ to him to bring “messianic” salvation to his household. Cornelius was a believer before this and not hellbound. “True,” writes Pinnock, “he needed to become a Christian to receive messianic salvation, including assurance and the Holy Spirit, but not be saved from hell” (p. 166).


    Regarding the salvation of babies and mentally incompetent people who die, most Christians believe that such people are saved. But this seems inconsistent with the belief that all must be evangelized. This inconsistency doesn’t seem to bother traditionalists, say these authors. “Why so great compassion for infants who cannot believe and so little for numbers of others perishing without God lifting a finger to help them?” asks Pinnock (p. 167). He contends that we need to apply Christ’s atonement {62} in the same way to the entire range of the unevangelized that we do to infants who die.
    Salvation is Accessible for the Unevangelized


    Without being naively optimistic by believing all religions are ways to God, inclusivists say we should not think that God cannot work in and through them. We ought not deny that there is some truth in other religions. The point is, God will judge all people fairly in terms of the light they have received in their own historical situation. God, in grace, grants every individual a genuine opportunity to participate in the redemptive work of Christ. Salvation is universally accessible apart from evangelization and people who respond in faith to the revelation they do have will attain salvation even if they never hear the gospel.


    Sanders and Pinnock affirm that the unevangelized are saved or lost on the basis of their commitment, or lack thereof, to the God who saves through the work of Jesus. This saving grace is mediated through general revelation and God’s special workings in human history.
    The inclusivist view raises the matter of motivation for missions. Sanders argues that even if “belief in the wider hope were conclusively shown to reduce support for missions, this would not in itself indicate that the wider hope view was false; the problem might well lie elsewhere - in an inadequate theory of missions” (p. 284).


    A number of reasons are given why proponents of the wider hope are strongly motivated to bring the gospel to the unevangelized. Jesus commanded us to go and preach the gospel to all people. Christians deeply desire to share Christ and cannot keep the blessings of a personal relationship with Him to themselves. The Bible teaches that God wants to bring fullness of eternal life into the lives of all people now. The good news is not only for the life beyond this one, but for the life we live now.


    Pinnock suspects evangelicals have narrowed the motivation for missions down to one thing - deliverance from wrath. “Sinners are not in the hands of an angry God,” he writes.
    Our mission is not to urge them to turn to Jesus because God hates them and delights in sending them to hell. Jesus did not come to condemn but to save the world (John 3:17). No, our mission is to announce the wonderful news of the kingdom of God (p. 177).


    CONCLUSION
    It is clear that devout Christians disagree regarding the fate of those who have never heard of Jesus and that the dominant restrictivist stance is {63} not the only orthodox interpretation. Hermeneutical problems exist on both sides of the issue.
    The sense this reviewer received from reading widely on the topic is that this question is a serious one and cannot be pursued as a mere academic curiosity but is vital to our understanding of the nature of God and our sense of mission.

    The conclusions we reach must be consistent with the full-orbed portrayal of God in Scripture, and our theology of the unevangelized must not diminish our sense of urgency in proclaiming the gospel throughout the world.
    The Bible is clear about this: only those who personally respond to Jesus in repentance and faith may know the present blessing and assurance of salvation. We long deeply for all to enter in to the joy of Christ’s redemption.

    entire article...

    http://www.directionjournal.org/article/?822
     
    #1 Alive in Christ, Aug 24, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2011
  2. Iconoclast

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  3. kyredneck

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    Then the last thing we would ever want to do is to preach the gospel to them and risk them spurning this grace and consequently being excluded in judgement. If they're bound for heaven to begin with, let's not 'rock the boat'.
     
  4. Tom Butler

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    You have cut to the heart of the matter. If anyone can be saved independently of the gospel, then let's call all our missionaries home, lest somebody hear and reject the gospel.
     
  5. Alive in Christ

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    Tom...

    Well, thats just silly. NOBODY would advocate that.

    Just because its *possible* for someone to be regenerated by means other than a human evangelist, thats no reason to stop evangelizing!!!

    Goodness. Personal evangelism will ALWAYS be one of Gods most effective methods of drawing people into the Kingdom.
     
    #5 Alive in Christ, Aug 25, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2011
  6. rorschach

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    Sanders and Pinnock are a bit off the deep end. Let's not forget to thank Pinnock for deciding for us that God doesn't know everything, doesn't control everything, and is genuinely surprised at things (since, after all, He isn't entirely capable of controlling things).

    If you believe in the biblical doctrine of predestination, there's no need to question things: God will get the Gospel to the elect. The question about "those who haven't heard" isn't really a question at all, since God saves those He wants saved.

    If you think about it, the whole question of "What about those who haven't heard?" really assumes that God is not all that sovereign (as Pinnock and Sanders (and Boyd) would like us to believe). God is just a bystander. But if you believe in a God who is truly sovereign -- such as the God who controlled Rehoboam in order to bring about His decree -- then you don't have to fear that "those who haven't heard" will somehow slip through the cracks.

    There are no cracks. God gives the Gospel and faith to His elect. Those who aren't elect aren't going to believe anyway.

    This is sort of like asking, "What if a meteor destroys the earth before Christ returns?" If you believe in God, then this question can easily be brushed aside as a non-issue.
     
  7. convicted1

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    Job 32:8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

    Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

    Rev. 14: 6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

    7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.


    Show me a natural preacher mentioned in any of these verses. When God shows someone they're lost, He has just presented the Gospel to them right there. The Gospel isn't the message the preacher presents, but it is that message preached in His power. When I tell someone about Jesus, I am telling them the Word of God. When God anoints my words(preaching through, and in, the Spirit), I am preaching the Gospel. It takes God to reveal Himself to someone, and not a preacher.
     
  8. convicted1

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    Brother AiC, I think that we are on the same page here!!! :thumbs:
     
  9. John of Japan

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    This point alone is enough to make me reject inclusivism. All Christ-less religions lead directly 180 degrees away from God, not towards Him in any way, shape or form.

    In Japan I deal with Shintoists and Buddhists all the time. First of all, Shinto has no doctrine. The books of myths that undergird Shinto (Kojiki and Nihon Shoki) portray "gods" that are immoral and petty. But those books are not doctrine. So Shinto is raw idolatry--just bow and pray to the "fox god" (patron saint of robbers), your local mountain, a tree, a cockroach, it doesn't matter. (And don't even ask me about their wicked festivals.) In 30 years I've never once talked to a Shintoist who said worshipping the spirits of nature brought him to consider Christianity. That's a non-event.

    Buddhism is based on the teachings of an atheist (Gautama who became "the Buddha") who believed he was greater than the "gods" of India. At best, Buddhism is passive--"Just don't get into trouble, folks." In 30 years I've never once talked to a Buddhist who said Buddhism led him to consider Christianity. It just doesn't happen! There is no truth in Buddhism.

    Hinduism is even worse. Hindu temples have wicked perversions portrayed on them. The "Allah" god of Islam is capricious, immoral and unjust. Need I go on?
     
  10. kyredneck

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    So John, what goes on at a Shinto festival? :)
     
  11. kyredneck

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    Amen.

    For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, 1 Tim 2:5

    There is no 'soul winner' inserted between Christ and man. The birth from above is just that.


    I do agree with the OP's opposition to 'hardline restrictivism', and that on account that the Spirit blows where He wills; the preacher doesn't convey the Spirit, neither is He tied to some formula or incantation for eternal life derived from the scriptures.
     
    #11 kyredneck, Aug 25, 2011
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  12. John of Japan

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    If I told you I'd have to send a ninja assasin after you. [​IMG]

    Seriously, average (but wicked) idolatry is what takes place at most of them. The mikoshi portable shrine is carried around the city from the jinja (shrine building), supposedly so the kami ("god") can see how the town is doing. However, there are festivals that are so immoral that BB rules prevent a discussion.
     
    #12 John of Japan, Aug 25, 2011
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  13. Alive in Christ

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    John of Japan...

    I posted from the material...

    And you responded...

    Agreed.

    And the inclusivist view agrees, as it says in the material I posted...

    Its not that people are saved through false religions. Its that God Almighty has the ability, and desire, to save some of them, namely...those whom He knows would embrace Christ, if they had the opportunity....

    Its such a beautiful truth, and so very scriptural, I dont undestand why people rebel away from it.
     
  14. Jkdbuck76

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    So what you're saying is that the kids on "Jersey Shore" would fit right in to shinto books?
    :laugh:

    JoJ; how do they react when you present a totally different world view to them?
     
    #14 Jkdbuck76, Aug 25, 2011
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  15. Alive in Christ

    Alive in Christ
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    kyredneck...

    Well, I'm encouraged to see that we two Kentuckians agree on that part. :thumbs:
     
  16. Alive in Christ

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    Rorchach...

    Nonsense.

    The call is to all, not just the supposed *lucky elect*.

    Saving Light is given..according to the scriptures..to every person who comes into this world. No exceptions.
     
  17. Crabtownboy

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    If all who have not heard and thus are damned then why kind of judgement will be on we who are Christian for not going out and telling them? By this I do not mean being a missionary in the traditional sense, but also in not telling of Christ at our places of work and to those we meet everyday in various places.
     
  18. Alive in Christ

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    Well, its good to have comrad! :wavey:
     
  19. Alive in Christ

    Alive in Christ
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    Crabtownboy...

    Who are these people of which you speak who havent heard???

    God tells us...

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    2 He was with God in the beginning.

    3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

    4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

    5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

    6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John.

    7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.

    8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.


    9 The true light that gives light to every man who comes into the world.
     
  20. Crabtownboy

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    All the people around the world who have never heard the message of Christ. What is our responsibility to them?
     

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