Defending Christian Faith, November 30, 2004
I. Religious Pluralism and Christian Apologetics
A. Uniqueness, supremacy, and finality of Jesus
B. Exclusivity of restricted access; scandal of particularism
C. Problem of hell in Christianity (and Islam)
D. Diversity of religious teachings; incompatible worldviews
1. Religious ultimate
2. Human condition
3. Spiritual liberation
II. Options for Addressing the Issue
A. Normative Pluralism (John Hick). See Harold Netland, Encountering Religious Pluralism (IVP, 2001).
B. Christocentric universalism (Karl Barth, Jacques Ellul)
C. Annihilationism. See Clark Pinnock, A Wideness in Gods Mercy, (Zondervan, 1992), Seventh Day Adventists
D. Post-mortem evangelism (1 Pet. 4:6)
E. Inclusivism: salvation through Christ, but possible to receive outside of the knowledge of the Gospel. See Millard Erickson, How Shall They be Saved? (Baker 1996); Terrance Tiessen, Who Can Be Saved? (IVP, 2004); he calls his position accessibilism.
F. Exclusivism/particularism: salvation for responsible agents not possible outside of Gospel proclamation and explicit belief. See Ronald Nash, Is Jesus the Only Savior? (Zondervan, 1994)
G. The problem of exclusivity in light of the overall apologetic enterprise
1. Other evidence for Christianity still obtains
2. One may be agnostic on this question, but within Scriptural limits
a. No one can save herself
b. All salvation is through Jesus Christ (somehow)
c. Other religions are not salvific, even though they may contain some truths
d. One who has not heard the gospel might cast himself on Gods mercy, not trusting in himself, not trusting in a false religion, in hopes of redemption
III. A Brief Defense of Exclusivism
A. Pluralism, universalism, annihilationism, and post-mortem evangelism are unbiblical
1. See Matthew 25:31 46 on eternal punishment
2. See Hebrews 9:27 on judgment after death
B. General revelation makes all accountable to God (Romans 1 2)
C. General revelation is insufficient to save (Romans 1 2; Ephesians 2:11 12)
D. Salvation requires knowledge of the Gospel (Acts 17:30; Matthew 28:18 20; Luke 24:45 49; Romans 10:9 19; Ephesians 2:8)
E. What is the number of the redeemed?
1. Absolute number may be great (Revelation 7:9; Hebrews 2:10)
2. Percentage of saved against lost (Matthew 7:13; Luke 13:22 30)
F. The justice of God and the unreached (Romans 9)
Recommended Books Related to Religious Pluralism and World Religions
The letters following the entries mean the following: (B)=Beginning; (I)=intermediate (A)=Advanced.
Adler, Mortimer. Truth In Religion.
Aldridge, Alan. Religion in the Contemporary World: A
Berger, Peter L., ed. The Desecularization of the World:
Resurgent Religion and World Politics.
Clark, Andrew and Bruce Winter. One God, One Lord:
Christianity in a World of Religious Pluralism.
Corduan, Winfried. Mysticism: An Evangelical Option?
Cox, Harvey. Fire From Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal
Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-first
Crockett, William and James Sigountos, eds. Through No
Fault of Their Own: The Fate of Those Who Have Never Heard.
Edwards, Paul. Reincarnation: A Critical Examination.
Erickson, Millard. How Shall They Be Saved? The Destiny of
Those Who Do Not Hear of Jesus.
Fernando, Ajith. The Supremacy of Christ.
12. Fernando, Ajith. Sharing the Truth in Love. Discovery House, 2001. Helpful update of his earlier book, The Christian Attitude Towards World Religions (Tyndale, 1987). (B)/(I)
13. Griffiths, Paul, ed. Christianity Through Non-Christian Eyes. Orbis, 1990. (I)
14. Griffiths, Paul. An Apology for Apologetics. Orbis, 1991. (I) Argues that inter-religious apologetics is proper and fruitfulan unpopular view in the world of Religious Studies.
15. Groothuis, Douglas. Unmasking the New Age InterVarsity Press, 1986. (I)
16. Groothuis, Douglas. Are All Religions One? InterVarsity Press, 1996. Booklet comparing Christianity, Islam, and nondualistic Hinduism. (I)
17. Groothuis, Douglas. Confronting the New Age. InterVarsity Press, 1988. (I)
Gruzalski, Bart. On The Buddha.
Halverson, Dean, ed. Compact Guide to World Religions.
Hackett, Stuart. Oriental Philosophy: A Westerners
Guide to Eastern Thought.
Jenkins, Philip. The Next Christendom.
Johnson, David L. A Reasoned Look at Asian Religions.
Kaufmann, Walter. Religion in Four Dimensions: Existential,
Aesthetic, Historical, Comparative.
Mangalwadi, Vishal. The World of Gurus.
25. Netland, Harold. Dissonant Voices. Regent Press, 1998; orig. pub. Eerdmans, 1991. Probably the best and most thorough evangelical treatment of the subject of religious pluralism. Moderately difficult but well-written and lucid. (I)
Netland, Harold. Encountering Religious Pluralism.
Nash, Ronald. Is Jesus the Only Savior?
Okholm, Dennis L. and Timothy Phillips, editors, Salvation:
Smart, Ninian. Worldviews: Cross-cultural Explorations of
Human Beliefs, 2nd ed.
Stackhouse, John Jr., ed. No Other Gods Before Me?
Evangelicals and the Challenge of World Religions.
Yandell, Keith. The Epistemology of Religious
32. Yandell, Keith, Philosophy of Religion. Routledge, 1999. Strong analytic approach with an equally strong emphasis on comparative religious philosophy. (I)/(A)