“I Will Pour Out My Spirit On All Flesh”: Are Acts 2 And 10 Proof-Texts For Inclusivism? -- By: Matthew Barrett

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 17:1 (NA 2012)
Article: “I Will Pour Out My Spirit On All Flesh”: Are Acts 2 And 10 Proof-Texts For Inclusivism?
Author: Matthew Barrett


“I Will Pour Out My Spirit On All Flesh”:
Are Acts 2 And 10 Proof-Texts For Inclusivism?

Matthew Barrett1

Introduction

Acts 2:17 is often cited as a proof-text supporting inclusivism—the view that explicit faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Christ Jesus is not necessary for salvation.2 The context for Acts 2 is the day of Pentecost. Previously in Acts 1, Jesus, before ascending to the right hand of the Father, promised his disciples that they would receive power with the advent of the Holy Spirit so that they might be witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). In Acts 2 we see the fulfillment of this promise as “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).3 When Peter explains to onlookers what had taken place, he does so by quoting Joel 2:28-32, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18). According to the inclusivist, the Spirit poured out on all flesh demonstrates that there is a saving, universal work of the Spirit even apart from the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Amos Yong, for example, argues that this text “should caution us against reading the ‘all’ of Acts 2:17 in an exclusively ecclesiological sense.”4

The most important passage, says the inclusivist, that exemplifies Acts 2:17, is Acts 10, where we learn that Cornelius was “a devout man who feared God” and “prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:2).

As Clark Pinnock explains, many like Cornelius have faith in God, wherever they live in the world, and therefore are accepted by God even though they have not ...

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