Is Jesus the Only Savior? – Pluralism (Pt. 3)

JesusChapter Five

Chapter five seeks to counter pluralistic thought through a Christian understanding of Jesus Christ. The first paragraph makes it clear that “if Jesus really is God, and if his atonement is the only ground of human salvation, then pluralism must be false.”[15] Interestingly noted, Nash cites two long paragraphs of Hick’s affirmation of this suggestion. Using the pluralist’s own words, the author paves a clear route to refuting pluralistic thought. Simply, if Jesus was God then pluralism is false. If Nash thus evidences the divinity of Jesus, pluralism is deductively concluded as false. Nash has provided the student a simple and accessible equation to combating pluralism.

The author proceeds to illustrate Hick’s attempts at destroying the divinity and high Christology of Jesus. For Hick, Jesus’ authority as divine is merely a product of the “imaginative reconstruction” of early Christians, not a claim of “metaphysical truth.”[16] Nash exposes Hick’s reasoning in an organized progression. First Hick examines Jesus’ own claims, then the early church’s adaptation of Jesus’ person, and lastly he reveals the Myth of Christian Uniqueness. Nash identifies Hick’s underlying issue with his evidential assertions; “he attacks the documents that Christians use to ground their belief in a divine Christ.”[17] This assault is grounded on “old and outdated” methods of historical skepticism, form-criticism, and redaction-criticism.[18] Nash runs through these methods and exposes their deep folly in regards to Christological study. Essentially, “It appears that Hick’s only criterion for distinguishing between authentic and inauthentic biblical material is compatibility with his own position.”[19] This is an arrow right to the heart of Hick’s method and view. Nash continues to pile on evidences against Hick and his underlying method, as well as his unconvincing claim against the supposed incoherent dual-nature of Christ.

The student – that is, the one who is in his or her right mind – is left to seriously disprove of Hick’s research method concerning Christ’s divinity, thus leaving the divinity of Christ well attested by Scripture, which ultimately completes the earlier equation defeating pluralism. Nash’s progression has allowed the student to mark easy and obvious propositions to discredit pluralism.

Chapter Six

The final chapter of part one provides some final thoughts on pluralism. Throughout the mentioned areas in these concluding sections, Nash discusses valuable principles that support pluralistic thought.

The first is the misunderstood standard of tolerance. The author’s main correction is that ‘difference’ does not imply rejection. Moreover, it is incongruous to suggest, “Any respectful attempt to persuade another person to change his or her beliefs can be an instance of intolerance.”[20] Correcting this fault is imperative to the discussion; without it, the whole debate could be abolished before it begins. The reader observes that Nash is addressing aspects of this debate from its beginning to its ends – in its entirety.

Another rebuttal by Hick is the inescapable influence of geographical and cultural placement. Nash effortlessly combats this claim by stating its irrelevance to the debate; in it, nothing is refuted concerning the truth-claims of religion. A third important topic is that supposed inconsistency between Christian exclusivism and an all-loving God. Despite this supposition’s counter to Hick’s unknowable God, Nash continues with his refutation supposing a hypothetical argument on Hick’s part. Simply put, Hick does not acknowledge the divine holiness of God; as a Universalist, he cannot afford to recognize the holiness of God.

This leads into the fourth topic of eschatological verification and logical positivism. This last point is not addressed thoroughly by the author, yet Nash answers this by a venture comparable to Pascal’s wager. The author has dealt so exhaustively with pluralism, so if this eschatological verification is supposed in the debate, it is really a moot and surrendering point. It is a confirmation that there is nothing more to discuss because all the evidences have been dealt with. This is the probable reason for Nash’s simple refute. Nonetheless, the idea of Hick’s bias prior to argument is once again exposed in these last two topics.

Nash concludes the first part of his work by stating pluralism and Christian’s complete exclusivity. “Any Christians who would become pluralists must cease being Christians.”[21] Regarding Hick, his “ideas are having a far greater influence than they deserve.”[22] Nash’s compelling analysis of Hick and exhaustive rebuttal has granted him the authority to state this truth.

PERSONAL CONCLUSION

Ronald H. Nash’s overall approach is admirable and alluring. There is an obvious knowledge of the subject as well as those whom he critiques. The author makes it a point to consistently reveal his permitted and proper portrayal of his opposition. When Nash critiques John Hick, he does so through careful attention to Hick’s own words and views. This is exemplified in his quotations of Hick as well as his confident focus on such a prominent scholar throughout his analysis. It is only once Nash has presumably dealt with Hick himself that he begins to incorporate other scholastic critiques and affirmations. The author did not rely on other critiques to form his own, or if he did, he did not present it this way. Overall, Nash writes in a way that conveys confidence, and this method of critique is highly attractive to students.

Further, the author correctly categorizes and prioritizes the pluralistic claims against Christian exclusivism. Nash does not worry his examination in the meddling of subsequent points or faulty contingencies; rather he consumes his analysis with identifying and correcting the underlying perspective, bias, and contradictory premises guiding pluralistic thought. In any academic argument, it is far too easy to be carried away from the essentiality of the debate. Nash reminds his readers that such superfluous wanderings are mere distractions. Nevertheless, the author does return to these additional points once the essential argument has been discussed. Thus, by the means of this specific debate, Nash equips his readers with the proper manner for any debate.

Conclusively, Nash provides the student with easy access to debasing pluralism’s attack on Christian exclusivism. The author presents the material in an ordered and sequential proposition that allows the reader the convenience of easily concluding the faulty premises of pluralism. This portrays Nash’s hard work, for it is difficult to take such a debate and organize it into such an accessible analysis. Further, not only does Nash adequately and conclusively expose the self-defeating and contradictory notions of pluralism, but also he affirms the scriptural view of Christian exclusivism. In all of the examination, the author consistently portrays the authority of Scripture. It is this observance – the sweet taste of biblical Christianity – that is sealed on one’s heart and mind. There is no better means of critique than that of God’s revealed and inspired truth.


[15] Ronald H. Nash, Is Jesus the Only Savior? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 69.

[16] Ibid., 71.

[17] Ibid., 76.

[18] Ibid., 77.

[19] Ibid., 81.

[20] Ibid., 95.

[21] Ibid., 100.

[22] Ibid., 100.

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