Sunday, August 05, 2007

Destiny of the Unevangelized

Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelised
(all these views agree that Jesus is the only Saviour)

(1) Restrictivism

God does not provide salvation to those who fail to hear Jesus and come to faith in Him before they die.

John 14:6
Acts 4:12
1 John 5:11-12

John Calvin
Jonathan Edwards
Carl Henry
R.C. Sproul
Ronald Nash

(2) Universal Opportunity before Death

All people are given opportunity to be saved by God’s sending the gospel (even by angels or dreams) or by middle knowledge (those whom God knows will believe in the gospel if they have heard it).

Daniel 2
Acts 8

Thomas Aquinas
James Arminus
John Henry Newman
J. Oliver Buswell Jr.
Norman Geisler
Robert Lightner

(3) Inclusivism

The unevangelised may be saved if they respond in faith to God based on the revelation they have.

John 12:32
Acts 10:43
1 Timothy 4:10

Justin Martyr
John Wesley
William Shedd
Karl Rahner
Clark Pinnock
Wolfhart Pannenberg
John Sanders

(4) Divine Perseverance or Postmortem Evangelism

The unevangelised receive an opportunity to believe in Jesus after death.

John 3:18
1 Peter 3:18-4:6

Clement of Alexandria
George MacDonald
Charles Hodge
Benjamin Warfield
Donald Bloesch
George Lindbeck
Stephen Davis
Gabriel Frackre

(5) Universalism

All people will in fact be saved by Jesus. No one is damned forever.

Romans 5:18
1 Corinthians 15:22-28
1 John 2:2

F.E. Schleiermacher
G.C. Berkouwer
William Barclay
Jacques Ellul

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Blogger Bob K said...

I feel more inclined towards position #3 - not too surprising considering my primary influences. :)

9:35 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi bob k,

that's an interesting comment. How have your primary influences make you come to choose #3?

9:52 PM  
Blogger Sivin Kit said...

Bob K - are you refering to Alwyn lau? hahah

10:33 PM  
Blogger Bob K said...

I think Alwyn's main contribution was to introduce me to John Sanders' writings, as I was introduced to Clark Pinnock and Stanley Grenz by Sivin.

But earlier influences would include John Wesley and C.S. Lewis, who somehow never came across as limiting God's sovereignty in the area of revelation and salvation.

Its hard to pinpoint exactly where the input exactly came from but it must have been there as my initial reaction to Sanders; who framed the position even more clearly; was not one of shock but "aha!".

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post Alex. Reading your blog makes me a digest of solid, stimulating Christian readings, both classic and current.

Like Bob K, I am inclined to No 3 as well.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi blogpastor,

it is a pleasure to interact with you and other readers.

It is interesting that so many accept #3 (inclusivism). I wonder whether it could be our thinking about the Goodness of God that influence us in that direction. A good God will not send anyone directly to hell.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,

i think the no.3 popularity is due to the 'intuitive' (oh-oh, dangerous word!) feeling that one 'salvation shouldn't be 'determined' by lack of access to some propositional message, GIVEN the tons of ambiguity (in the words used, the languages available, the character of the herald, the context of the msg, the person's exposure to pre- and post-evangelistic christianity, etc.)

also, i guess the logic is that if God is willing to suffer so much and die for us, it'd be a real shocker to think that salvation is restricted who can 'accept' a message given at a particular point in space-time.

and so the debate goes on...(although i'm personally intrigued by ppl like McLaren's focus-shift in not even wanting to discuss the topic...interesting)

(btw, don't u think Nash was a little harsh in the book??)

4:54 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi alwyn,

My sentiments exactly on #3 (Inclusivism). This is an option that makes us feel comfortable because then, we have a God that we can understand.

I understand Brian McLaren's focus shift but that is because he has been attacked on this front. See the MacArthur video.

Yes, I sense that and I may be wrong, that many in the emerging church tends towards #5. Remember we are talking about people who have never heard the gospel and those discussing believe that Jesus is the only way.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

No, I do not feel Nash is too harsh in his paper. He is defending a previously 'non-negotiable' position.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emergent folk tend towards universalism? now that's a first i've heard of it...i thought they/we(?) are most of #3 kin, ;>)

i've heard that universalism (at least nowadays) have some pretty strong arguments and I look fwd to reading them.

I *suspect* much will depend on how much weight we give to 'Biblical evidence' or, in fact, how we understand that concept. On *my* understanding, universalism cannot square with the judgment passages...

On the other hand, i think there's a sixth option (which McLaren proposes, at least in G.Orthodoxy): "It's not for us to decide/worry about the issue" (pseudo-agnosticism)

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely sure about 'non-negotiable', Alex...esp with the list of adherents of the other views?

maybe Restrictivism is only non-negotiable with certain schools of thought?

11:08 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...


in certain tradition option # 1 is a non negotiable.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Matthew Celestine said...

I think (2)'Universal Opportunity before death' is the best position.

It combines the necessity of faith in Christ with provision for the unreached.

12:17 AM  
Blogger Matthew Celestine said...

I think the big problem with the book is that it does not provide a defence of position (2).

12:19 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi Celestial Fundie,

Welcome and thanks for your comments. If you opt for (2) you are in some good company.

I believe that the writer have been given a word limit so that all other views can be represented.

8:22 PM  

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