Christian Apologetics - Lesson 25


Inclusivism is the view that even though the work of Christ is the only means of salvation, it does not follow that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary in order for a person to be saved.

Ronald Nash
Christian Apologetics
Lesson 25
Watching Now

Is Jesus the Only Savior

Part 3

III.  Inclusivism

A.  Definition

B.  "General revelation can save."

1.  Not Scriptural

2.  The Gospel is not culturally relative.

3.  The content of faith is crucial.

C.  Old Testament Believers

D.  "Holy Pagans"

E.  Infant Salvation

F.  Christian Missions

G.  The Book of Acts

  • Introduction to Apologetics.

  • Apologetics involves finding evidence and presenting arguments to defend the Christian faith.

  • Two prominent worldviews are Christian theism and naturalism.

  • The law of non-contradiction states that A cannot be B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense.

  • Explanations and responses to different worldviews.

  • If God is good and all powerful, then why does evil exist?

  • Discussion about how the existence of evil is consistent with God's character.

  • Your noetic structure, presuppositions and view of epistemology are important elements in the formation of your worldview.

  • Discussion of deductive presuppositionalism vs. inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Objections to inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Arguments for and against evidentialism.

  • Arguments for and against foundationalism.

  • Discussion of natural theology.

  • There are valid, sound and cogent arguments for the existence of God, but no coercive proofs.

  • Discussion of different arguments for God's existence.

  • One version of the cosmological argument for God's existence emphasizes God as first in time, another emphasizes God as first in importance.

  • A possible world is a way the real world could have been. Modal logic, propositions, state of affairs and eternal entities are some of the considerations when discussing a possible world.

  • Something is logically possible if its description does not include a logical contradiction. The existence of the laws of knowledge refute the system of naturalism.

  • Middle knowledge is a form of knowledge attributed to God by Molina.

  • Miracles are a dividing line and central to Christianity.

  • David Hume's rational arguments against miracles and responses to those arguments.

  • Two miracles central to Christianity are the incarnation and resurrection.

  • The question of whether or not Jesus is the only savior touches on pluralism, inclusivism and exclusivism.

  • Pluralism is the view that all religions have salvific value.

  • Inclusivism is the view that even though the work of Christ is the only means of salvation, it does not follow that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary in order for a person to be saved.

  • Salvation is totally the work of God and all children who die in infancy are elect of God.

  • Discussion from a biblical perspective of God's character and attributes.

  • Open theists believe that God does not have a perfect knowledge of the future.

  • Divine omnipotence and divine omniscience are two attributes of God.

  • When contemplating life after death, remember, Jesus has been there and come back. Will you commit your life to him or reject him?

These lectures were given at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida during the fall of 2001.


Dr. Ronald Nash
Christian Apologetics
Lesson Transcript


[00:00:02] If you'll allow me. I want to turn now to inclusive ism. What is inclusive ism? Again, it is the belief that no one can be saved apart from the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. But it is not necessary to know that Jesus existed, to know what Jesus did, or to even believe in Jesus in order to receive the benefits of salvation. That's inclusive ism. Now, quickly, let's go down this second page and I refer to the page numbers in the book. Is Jesus the only savior where you can find the material? First of all, these people must teach that general revelation can save. Why? Because their position implies that you must. You need not have contact with the Bible in order to be saved. You do not need to know God's special revelation, the revelation in the Scriptures to be saved. Therefore, general revelations say it has to their position. People can be saved by looking at nature, looking to conscience and finding God in that way. Even though you will not find Jesus in that way. Now, here are my comments about that. Is there any place in Scripture that tells us that general revelation saves not on your life. In fact, if you look at perhaps the most specific text about general revelation in the New Testament, it would be Romans chapter one. ROMANS Chapter one makes it clear that general revelation is incompetent to bring people to salvation. ROMANS Chapter one makes it clear that the purpose of general revelation is to make sure that no human being has an excuse. Romans Chapter one makes it clear that sinful human beings reject.


[00:02:26] Reject the content of general revelation because we're sinners. So general revelation doesn't save. In that same context, John Sanders argues, and I quote him, that the content get this the content of the Christian gospel is culture relative. See you. And I would look at First Corinthians chapter 15 where Paul says, where Paul defines the gospel in three phrases. He says, The gospel is that Jesus died for our sins, that he was buried. That means the empty tomb becomes relevant, that he was buried and that he rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures. Now, if that's the gospel, then people of all cultures and religions need to hear that Jesus died and rose again for their salvation. But what does John Sanders say? Get this, he says. And Clark Pinnick says this, too. Well, that was the gospel for the Corinthians at that time and that place, my friends. That's heresy in case you don't know how to spell it. Let me put it on the board. All right. That was the gospel for the Corinthians. Now, how can anybody say anything that I want to be non pejorative here? How can anybody say anything that stupid? Answer He's a slave to a paradigm and he's willing to give up absolutely everything to save that paradigm. The Gospel. That's the gospel for the Corinthians. Then they do the same thing with faith. And so Clark Penick, who's the guy that I quote here, he says, Well, you know, there's a little Hindu sect, and they have a they emphasize faith, and so therefore they must be saved. To which one reply is faith in what Clark Penick and clinics necessary? Answer it. Well, it doesn't really matter the content of their faith at all.


[00:04:51] If people have faith, they're saved. That's heresy. So they tear out the heart of the gospel. They tear up any content from faith. Why? Because otherwise they don't have inclusive business. Notice I'm not only talking Clark Pinnick. And John Sanders here. I'm talking the whole Vatican right now, the whole of the Catholic Church, which has done the same thing and must do the same thing in the pursuit of their inclusiveness. Now, they then come along and they make a claim that Old Testament believers like David and Moses, they were saved and they didn't know about Jesus. They didn't know about the cross. So if Old Testament believers can be saved without any knowledge of or faith in Jesus Christ, then all kinds of non-Christian contemporaries in a muslim, Hindu, Buddhist context, they can be saved as well. Now, these are bad arguments. These are people of the covenant. They had special revelation. How can you ignore that? Then they talk about Holy pagans. Now, I may ask you next week to define a holy pagan. A holy pagan is somebody from basically the Old Testament times, although Cornelius, in the Book of Acts is is described as ah, as a contemporary, a holy pagan of of the first century. He's a Gentile who becomes saved without access to special revelation. Now here is the reply. Okay. These so-called Holy pagans are either not holy or they are not pagans. All right. This phrase is nonsense. Let me give you some examples. One example of a so-called holy pagan is Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God who blessed Abraham. Now Was Melchizedek a holy? He was holy, but he wasn't a pagan. Because he knew the most high God. And furthermore, he is related in the book of Hebrews to.


[00:07:32] The priestly ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus is a high priest, not after the model of Aaron or the lyrical High priest. He is a high priest after the model of Melchizedek. You're going to tell me that Melchizedek was a pagan name? Okay. He's a holy pagan. But you know what happened when he met Elijah? He said, Dip me in the River Jordan seven times. I'm sure that was immersion. Immersion. Now I'm joking here. All right. I'm joking here. But Naaman went back to Syria to witness to his faith. Wasn't a pagan anymore. On another example of a holy. This gets comical, but it isn't funny. Bailout. Now let me tell you about bailing. All right. Bailamos asks no more about God than Bailon did. I once first time I said that was at Southern Baptist Seminary and people in the audience who weren't paying attention said bailamos what they bailamos ask no more about bailamos dunking 000 bailamos dunk. I got you. Balam wasn't holy. He was a pagan. There isn't an ounce of of regeneration anywhere in that. In that. In that stupid guy. I wouldn't be surprised if bailamos mule ends up in heaven. All right. He testified to the glory of God. So this holy pagan stuff, again, I'm saying to you, if they don't have better arguments than this, why are people paying attention to them? And the answer is this They this this system makes them feel better. Now, then we have the question of infant salvation. And that explains briefly why I sometimes describe my book about baby when a baby dies as a sequel to this. Because I believe here's what the inclusive say. Nash says that all children who die in infancy are elect of God and are saved.


[00:09:56] Okay. And thus, Nash, what you've done is you've and you've embarked on a slippery slope. You're letting a whole lot of people. Dead infants. Children who die in infancy. Notice I do not say that all children are saved. Sometimes I get people. People think they find that in my book. They can't. I do not say that all children are saved. There have been billions of every human being was a child at some time. Am I right when I say that? Thank you. Thank you. So I do say some things that are right on this subject. Every human being was a child at some time. And children who grow up. And reach the point where they know the difference between right and wrong. That's a different issue. I'm only saying those children who die in infancy are saved. Is that a slippery slope? No, because I argue and I do it in more detail in the baby book. Children who die in infancy are saved in the same way that you and I were saved. And the reason that's the case is because the only reason you and I were saved is because it was totally the work of God. You weren't saved because you did something like believe or anything else. God chose you. God chose those children. And then God gave you the faith that saves, just as God gives an infant the faith that saves those who die in infancy. So I'm not opening up a slippery slope here. You cannot confuse children who die in infancy. For whom I think the case, the biblical case, can be made that because they don't know the difference between right and wrong, they cannot be condemned for deeds which they are incapable of understanding or recognizing as wrong.


[00:12:10] And you can't you can't confuse children like that with adults. Who sin knowingly and consciously and intentionally. Okay. So that's no slippery slope. ROMANS Ten, nine and ten. That's clear in the book. So let's save time here and skip to Christian missions. Let me quote John Sanders And John, maybe he may not be happy to hear this if he does listen to the tape. But when I agreed to take part in that three way debate in the InterVarsity Press book, I said to myself, I'd like to try and trap these guys into making really, really bad admissions. So I, I got John Sanders to write to write this sentence in that book. He said all humans are saved until they reject the gospel. Now, I want you to really look at that sentence and think about it. All human beings are saved until they reject the gospel. That means then, that people in foreign lands who have never heard the gospel cannot possibly be lost because they have never had an opportunity to reject the gospel. What this is, is universalism for the UN evangelized universalism for the UN evangelized. Can you understand why today, assuming the situation that was described to me about four years ago is still true, that hardly anybody graduating from Oakhill Bible College goes to the mission field because all people on every mission field are safe until they reject the gospel. Now, let me paint a scenario for you. All right? I want you to imagine a missionary in the Philippines and suppose he has learned about an undiscovered tribe living in a small valley and he's driven to the to the opening and that valley in his jeep. And he's going to go in there and he's going to give these people the first word about the gospel that they have ever received.


[00:14:31] But before he he's first he turns off the engine on his jeep and he prays like this. He says, Dear Lord, I thank you for the privilege you've given me today. Of all the Christians in the world, you've given me the privilege of being the person who will introduce these dear people to Jesus. And he's he's now he's remembering and he says, Lord, you know, the the hard times that have happened to bring us up to this time. You know that when my mother died, I couldn't be there. I was over here. I couldn't be with my mother when she died. When my father died, I was here and I couldn't be at home. So I had to be away. I wasn't there when my father died and when my children needed me in college and in school. And those problems, I couldn't be with them either. But all of those sacrifices were worth the privilege of what's going to happen today. And I ask you to bless my ministry. And then he drives into that valley and they have a man. And there's an amazing response. 50% of those people understand the gospel and accept the truth of the gospel, and they become believers in Jesus Christ. What a time for rejoicing. But you know how John Sanders would interpret that. John Sanders would say, You dirty old missionary, Why didn't you leave those people alone? Don't you realize that if you had kept your nose out of their business, every person in that valley would now be saved because they've always been safe. But not you. You got a medal. You got to go into that valley. You got to preach the gospel, you dumb Christian. And because of your work, 50% of those people who were saved yesterday are lost today.


[00:16:13] I want to suggest there's something seriously wrong with that way of thinking. Can you imagine a Bible college that hires a faculty member who's going to teach future missionaries that stuff? All human beings are saved until they reject the God. He's got it backwards. And if I brought my overheads here, I would have now begun to show a number of scripture texts. Romans three I'm sorry, John. Chapter three, verse 36. Look that up, which says that people are lost. Now, the Book of Acts, True Story, just hanging with me for an extra 5 minutes. Okay. When you write a book, there are three challenges to overcome. Some I you know, I believe there are some books in here. One of these days, there's going to be a slew of books that come out of my classes here. Well, I'm telling you, there are three challenges to overcome. The first challenge to overcome when you write a book is the first sentence that can be tough. The second challenge is the last sentence. And the third challenge is everything in between. Thank you for laughing. Now, I had done all of my work and I told you the toughest time I had trying to get my organizing principle for the book. And once again, it was late at night. I was in my family room and Longwood. My wife was asleep. And I'm agonizing because I don't know how to close. And this book. All right. So I got a great idea. I said, Lord, help me. I prayed. All right. I prayed. And you know what? As soon as I prayed. And let me out of parentheses here. When you are privileged to participate in experiences like this, you are having an encounter with God.


[00:18:21] Soon as I prayed, I heard a voice. But it wasn't a voice. But the words were there and the words said, Read the book of Acts. I can hear those words right now. But if you were in the room, you couldn't hear them. And I know exactly what I was supposed to do. I was to get my NIV and I was to read the entire book of acts with this purpose. I was to see if any of the early Christians behaved or acted like inclusive lists. So that's I'm just thumbing through acts, reading it carefully. And guess what? Not once does anybody Peter, Paul, Barnabas, anybody else presuppose inclusiveness? What they all do is tell everybody who will listen to them that Jesus died for their sins and rose again. Read the book of Acts yourself. And by the time I was finished with the Book of Acts, I, you know, I had such a good time. I said, Shucks, I'm going to go back and read it again. I challenge you to do that? I challenge any inclusive host who listens to this tape to do that, because not once will you find any inclusive ism in the Book of Acts. Now, what I did find this is. Yeah. I did find. A number of texts. Let me just quote two of them, and I'm watching my time here. Chapter 20. This is on page 174 of your book. Chapter 20. Paul says, therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. That's the end of the quote. Now, here's my comment. If Paul had not been faithful in proclaiming the Gospel, he says he would have had blood on his hands.


[00:20:30] There is no way for and enclose this this there's no way for an inclusive us to think. Even if Christians fail to carry the gospel to the UN evangelized, there is little or no culpability regarding the blood of men under inclusive ism because God is saving on evangelized people all the time. Man. This is a damning indictment of inclusive ism. And then I go on finally. If I had been Paul and I had been an inclusive host, I would have been totally shocked by what God said when he called me. This is Acts 26. Quote, God said to Paul, I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light. In other words, right now, these aren't evangelized people that John Sanders says are saved. They are in total darkness. And I'm sending you to deliver them from their darkness, open their eyes and deliver them from the power of Satan to God so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. You can't put an inclusive spin on those words. Now, here are the last two sentences I utter here. This survey, through the Book of Acts, makes it clear that Peter and Paul did not speak and act like inclusiveness. And Acts 2618 helps us see that God does not speak or act like an inclusive either. Well, the next morning at breakfast I said to my wife, You let me tell you about what happened last night and how I ended my book and the help that the Lord gave me. You know, and I told her and she said, Well, that isn't bad. Now, guys, if you're not already married, all right, make sure that you marry a woman who will keep you humble, keep you humble.


[00:22:33] That's not bad. But I've got a better one for you. And you know what? She did have a better one. She said, Why don't you look at what Paul says about his pre conversion? And I knew immediately she was talking about Philippians chapter three. If inclusive wisdom were true, then Saul of Tarsus was a saved believer before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Huh? Because Saul of Tarsus met all of the inclusiveness demands. What was he? He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. It was a Hebrew that he he had it all. But what does Paul say? He says, I was lost. I was not saved. So here we have an author describing his pre conversion situation as a lost state, and he's doing it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I'll tell you, there's no hope for these inclusiveness. Okay. There's my case on pluralism and inclusive ism. Notice two different approaches with the with the enemy position of pluralism. I'm not quoting scripture. I'm trying to produce inconsistencies within the pluralist position in the case of inclusive us who lay claim that they believe the Bible. Now all of a sudden inconsistencies with Scripture become relevant and their position does not stand up. Now you know what they've done. I mean, here, here are the here, the refutations. They ignore these. And in the clay, in the colleges and seminaries where they teach, they don't tell people how their position has been exploded. Thank you for listening to this lecture. Brought to you by biblical training, dawg. Your prayers and financial support enable us to provide a biblical and theological education that all people around the world can access. Blessings. As you continue to study and live out your faith and as you grow in your relationship with the Lord.