“Evangelical Inclusivism” and the Exclusivity of the Gospel: A Review of John Sanders’s No Other Name -- By: Ardel B. Caneday

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 01:4 (Winter 1997)
Article: “Evangelical Inclusivism” and the Exclusivity of the Gospel: A Review of John Sanders’s No Other Name
Author: Ardel B. Caneday


“Evangelical Inclusivism” and the Exclusivity of the Gospel:
A Review of John Sanders’s No Other Name

A. B. Caneday

A. B. Caneday is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Northwestern College, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Specializing in the New Testament and Biblical Theology, Caneday is currently co-authoring Run to Win the Prize: Christian Perseverance and Assurance (forthcoming, InterVarsity Press) with Southern Seminary faculty member Tom Schreiner.

Introduction

Pluralism advances by utilizing multi-culturalism, diversity, and inclusivism. Of course, the pluralism in mind here is not the fact that there exists a plurality of race, value systems, heritage, language, culture, and religious belief systems.1 Rather, the pluralism under consideration is itself a belief system that both cherishes and celebrates plurality2 and also refuses to tolerate any ideology or religious creed that asserts itself to be exclusively right and true and that other creeds are false or inferior.3 Cultural and social pluralism’s dogma of multiculturalism has been described as a Trojan horse in America.4 Likewise, religious pluralism has invaded the church to subvert the gospel of Christ, the very foundation upon which the church is built.

The ideology of pluralism that spawns social and cultural inclusivism also gives birth to religious inclusivism that wages war against Christianity’s affirmation that believing in Jesus Christ is the exclusive means of eternal salvation. Ironically, those who see themselves as the evangelical guardians against “the modern flow toward pluralism”5 are the very ones who advance the cause of pluralism and inclusivism from within the camp of evangelicalism. As with social and cultural pluralists, these patrons of religious pluralism conceive of people as corporate groups and they elevate themselves morally above the benighted traditional and exclusivist Christians who allegedly believe in a God who “does little in the way of seeking the redemption of the great majority of human beings” but adopt the cold “idea that all the unevangelized are indiscriminately damned.”6 Take note how Clark Pinnock indulges in the pluralism’s “new virtue” to express his dislike of evangelicalism’s emphasis upon individual salvation as he advances his “outcomes-based” sense of fairness.

It is instinctive for us to think immediately of the eternal...

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