Is Jesus the Only Savior? By Ronald H. Nash. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994. 188 pp. Paper, $12.99.
This important book evaluates the growing influence of pluralism and inclusivism as over against traditional Christian exclusivism. Pluralism answers the title of the book with “No.” Inclusivism answers the title of the book with “Yes, but . . .” or that Jesus’ death for our sins is the necessary grounds for salvation, but explicit faith in Him is not necessary. Nash defends exclusivism, which answers “Yes, period.”
The author recognizes the emotional appeal of the two positions in question because they seem to resolve tensions over the fate of the unevangelized. But Nash finds them awash with difficulties.
He first discusses John Hick’s pluralism, then turns to the inclusivism of Clark Pinnock and John Sanders. In each case, Nash masterfully points out the logical, theological, and practical problems of both pluralism and inclusivism. Most seriously, he shows how they undermine or even deny the validity of statements of propositional truth, the veracity of the Bible, and in the case of pluralism, the deity of Christ.
Ironically, adoption of either pluralism or inclusivism will work to doom the masses that its proponents so want to include in salvation. Both views, as also universalism (the belief that all people will be saved), take the impetus out of missions. Instead of an imperative, evangelism becomes a nice suggestion.
We should be alarmed at Nash’s estimate of the influence of inclusivism in evangelicalism. He claims over 50% of Evangelical Christian denominational and missions leaders and theological educators are inclusivists. If this is true, then his book is all the more important.
Nash’s philosophical and biblical arguments against these false views of salvation are well-aimed and powerful. On occasion his Reformed theological position grates against Free Grace thinking, but these few occurrences are incidental to his main arguments. In fact, I found it interesting that a Reformed theologian was happy to refer to salvation in unencumbered terms of “faith in Jesus Christ” when removed from the Lordship debate.
Those who are theologically inclined, or who are confronted by these unbiblical views, will greatly appreciate this book. It is a valuable contribution defending the uniqueness and the very heart of Evangelical Christianity.
Charles C. Bing
Burleson Bible Church