Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 161:644 (Oct 2004) p. 497
By The Faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary
Matthew S. DeMoss, Editor
The Possibility of Salvation among the Unevangelised: An Analysis of Inclusivism in Recent Evangelical Theology. By Daniel Strange. Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Press, 2002. xviii + 362 pp. £29.99.
One of the most pressing theological issues in recent years is whether salvation is possible outside Christianity. Daniel Strange, a theologian in Bristol, England, offers here a comprehensive survey of the issues in this debate in evangelicalism and gives a thoroughgoing response to the inclusivist view of Clark Pinnock.
Pinnock believes that salvation is universally accessible, even for people who have never heard of Jesus Christ. This is possible, he says, because of God’s prevenient grace (p. 105) and also His providential presence (p. 99). The unevangelized can be saved by what Pinnock calls the “faith principle.” By faith a person receives prevenient grace in an honest search for God. Strange responds to this by pointing out that the “faith principle,” which supposedly accepts God’s common grace, cannot give propositional knowledge for true biblical faith “because it does not contain information about the source of salvation, that is, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ” (p. 262). And Pinnock’s view fails to note that common grace is not the same as saving grace.
In his pneumatological approach to this issue Pinnock maintains that grace has always been present for the unevangelized “through the omnipresence of the Spirit in creation” (p. 211). Strange offers an excellent response to this demarcation between the Holy Spirit and Christ when he rightly asks, “But if grace has always been present in and through creation, then what is there left for Christ to do on the cross?” (ibid.). In order to maintain both “universality” (the accessibility of salvation to everyone through the Holy Spirit) and “particularity” (salvation through belief in Christ) Pinnock does not view the Spirit as subordinate in function to Christ, “but as being universally and salvifically present even when Christ is not known” (p. 226). This, Strange responds, wrongly severs the person and work of the Holy Spirit from the person and work of Christ, and it leaves one asking where the Son is in salvation and why Christ is needed for salvation (p. 231).
Strange discusses how the ministry of the Spirit is linked to the ministry of Christ, and he shows how Pinnock’s view of universal accessibility has wrongly blurred the distinction between the Spirit’s work in creation and His work in salvation. Strange also shows how Pinnock’s inclusivist
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