Is Jesus the Only Savior? – Inclusivism (Pt. 2)

JesusChapter Nine

 At the outset, the author exposes the principle behind the chapter. “Each side in this dispute is critical of the way people on the other side handle certain key passages of Scripture.”[1] This is not a matter biblical resource; the divergence between exclusivism and inclusivism is a hermeneutical issue. Once again, Nash explicitly states his structure of the chapter; the reader can properly set his or her expectations. The first half of the chapter analyzes typical scriptures that appeal to inclusivism, and the latter are those that appeal to exclusivism.

Nash critiques those supposed inclusivist texts – Acts 10; 15; 17:28-30. In almost every text, the author notes the hermeneutical fallacy of the inclusivist scholars, whereby they strip the texts out of their context. This mode of correction is undertaken in each text. Moreover, regarding exegetical scholarship, Nash alludes to major biblical commentators like F. F. Bruce and Darrell L. Bock, which reinforce his overall authoritative claim. Compiling the verses used by inclusivists, which contain references to salvation unto ‘all’ or ‘world,’ Nash provides a simplistic and profound difference: ‘without distinction’ vs. ‘without exception.’ Noting his study of the prominent puritan scholar John Owen, the author concludes that all of such passages “tell us what God has done for all humans without distinction.”[2] Concluding the negation of inclusivists’ use of Scripture, Nash moves to the affirmation of exclusivist scriptural claims.

The progression is simple and logical; he notes the verse, offers up inclusivists’ rebuttal, and then reveals how it is inadequate. For Rom. 10:9-10, Nash returns to some logical propositional analysis regarding Sanders. The heart of the inclusivist’s issue, however, is much deeper. “Sanders does not consider at all that the exclusivist interpretation of Rom. 10:9-10 is a possible reading of the text.”[3] Simply, Nash exposes the faulty work of eisegesis that corrupts the inclusivists’ interpretation of the text; and this scheme is repeated throughout the rest of analysis. The author concludes the chapter: “I believe I have shown that the inclusivist support from Scripture stands on shaky ground and reflects a tendency to explain away clear biblical statements that run contrary to their view.”[4] The student that adheres to biblical authority is left to reckon the inclusivist view as unproved and inadequate.

Chapter Ten

Nash utilizes chapter ten to address those questions that did not have a place in his structure, but still needed to be discussed. The author is thus portrayed as one who is exhaustive in his analysis, addressing the needs of the issues, not merely those that are convenient to his organization. Among these questions is the first concerning Pinnock and Post-mortem evangelism’s (PME) correspondence with inclusivism. Essentially, Nash exposes Pinnock’s inconsistency in asserting both PME and inclusivism; the two are contradictory. Nash does this by thoroughly defining PME and its theological implications. Once again, the author allows the Bible to be the final source of theological authenticity, as Nash addresses many proof-texts asserted by PME and exegetically debases them. The underlying issue is again found to be eisegesis: “[Those who hold to PME] engage in sheer speculation and then use their conjectures as the basis for conclusions.”[5]

The author concludes the chapter with two short discussions addressing the issues of 1) other religions and 2) hell. Nash allows two long quotations by Bruce Demarest to answer the previous question. This illustrates the author’s concern for answering the issues rather than simply putting forth his own theological ideals. Regarding the second issue of Hell, Nash notes an important aspect of the debate: it is often exploited by pluralists and inclusivists to appeal to the emotions of the issue. This is a manner more thoroughly discussed in his next chapter, but an important piece of information for the topic at hand. Again, Nash draws from prevalent scholarship (J. P. Moreland and Gary Habermas) to gain credibility for his rebuttal. The author notes that this chapter functioned to pile on doubts upon the already weakened inclusivist position. Nash apparently wishes not only to weaken the inclusivist position, but also completely debase it.

[1] Ronald H. Nash, Is Jesus the Only Savior? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 137

[2] Ibid., 143.

[3] Ibid., 146.

[4] Ibid., 148

[5] Ibid., 156.


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