Can Salvation Be Received Without The Gospel? (Inclusivism)
"Christianity Questions and Answers" podcast CQA 032
Inclusivism is the belief that some will be included in eternal salvation provided by Christ simply by virtue of their sincerity of belief and works, even though they do not follow Jesus. Inclusivism is in contrast with exclusivism and different from pluralism which were addressed in podcast interviews with Dr. Chris Gnanakan. Click these links to listen to these podcasts on Pluralism and Exclusivism.
Dr. Chris Gnanakan
Here is a comparison of the 3 viewpoints from “Theopedia” website:
Inclusivism posits 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 one to be saved. In contrast to pluralism, inclusivism agrees with exclusivism in affirming the particularity of salvation in Jesus Christ. But unlike exclusivism, inclusivism holds that an implicit faith response to general revelation can be salvific. God expects from man a response proportional to the light given. Saving faith is not characterized so much by its cognitive content as it is by its reverent quality.”
I encourage you to read the article this quote is taken from—you might be surprised at some of those who have held to inclusivism.
Listen to this podcast on inclusivism by hitting the play button above.
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Here are some biblical passages that deny inclusivism:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)
“Someone asked him, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’ He said to them, ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.’” (Luke 13:23-24 NIV)
“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14 ESV)
In contrast to inclusivism, the following passages clearly teach exclusivism—the fact that conscious faith in Christ is the ONLY way to salvation:
Jesus said about Himself: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (John 3:17-19 ESV, emphasis mine)
Jesus also said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV)
Other Scripture leaders and writers were equally clear in denying inclusivism:
The Apostle Peter: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name [Jesus Christ] under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 ESV)
The Apostle John: “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12 ESV)
The Apostle Paul: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 NIV)
Each of these apostles believed so strongly in exclusivism that they gave their lives in the spreading of the Gospel of salvation only through Christ. So have many others over the 2,000 years since Christ gave His own life.
The Apostle Paul, expressed this missionary zeal compelled by exclusivism in this way: “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”(Romans 10:13-15 ESV)
For those who want to believe in inclusivism here are some crucial questions to be considered:
How foolish were the Apostle Paul and all the other missionaries who left home, sacrificed, suffered, and were sometimes martyred or otherwise lost their lives to proclaim the Gospel to those who have never heard?Why proclaim the Gospel to the lost if they don’t really need it? In fact, aren’t they better off NOT hearing about Jesus since they are often quite satisfied with their own path and might reject Jesus?When passages like these above are so clear, isn’t it unwise to try to find Scriptural justification (excuses) to believe that people can be saved without knowing Jesus? What is your motivation for this—is it biblical study or seeking to “help God out” in a difficult teaching? Does God really need your help in this?
I wrote an entire article with other questions titled Five Questions for Those Who Think Many Roads Lead to Heaven.
Jesus gave this warning about trying to find another way: “You search the Scriptures, because you think you will find eternal life in them. The Scriptures tell about me, but you refuse to come to me for eternal life.” (John 5:39-40 CEV)
Here’s a short biography for my guest on this podcast:
Dr. Chris Gnanakan is originally from South India, and now lives with his family in Virginia. He is currently a professor at Liberty University’s School of Divinity, serving as a bridge between the mission field and the next generation of Christian leaders. Dr. Chris is also the Director of Outreach to Asia Nationals (OTAN), a mission organization that enables nationals to reach nationals in restricted-access countries with the Gospel.
You can learn more about Chris and contact him via his website: chrisgnanakan.com
The wonderful promise of the Bible is this: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ESV)
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Here are some of my other articles that consider issues related to inclusivism:
Here are some of my podcasts and a vlog that consider issues related to inclusivism:
CC Image courtesy of Wikimedia