“Who Can Be Saved?” Critical Dialogue Over A Recent Review -- By: Anonymous
TRINJ 28:2 (Fall 2007) p. 291
“Who Can Be Saved?”
Critical Dialogue Over A Recent Review1
I am grateful for the attention given to my book (Who Can Be Saved?) in the review article by James M. Hamilton Jr. in the last edition of Trinity Journal. I taught and preached the ecclesiocentric position that Hamilton holds for many years, so I understand well his negative response to my accessibilist proposal. I am thankful that he has read my book so carefully and that he has generally represented my position accurately. His critique merits a detailed response, but my purpose here is not to defend my proposal but to identify a few places in the review article where positions have been attributed to me that I do not hold. On those matters, and those alone, I would like to set the record straight for readers of Trinity Journal.
(1) James Hamilton states that “it is impossible to predict how ‘spiritual seekers’ will respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is precarious to formulate our theology on the basis of what they ‘would have done’ had the gospel gotten to them” (p. 97). This implies that I do formulate my theology on that basis, which is not the case. Although, I have argued elsewhere for a Calvinistic appropriation of divine middle knowledge, in this book I actually deny that God’s foreknowing how the unevangelized would have responded if they had received the gospel is significant (pp. 158-63). Some accessibilists have used this as a ground for the salvation of the unevangelized but I do not. My point, repeatedly, is that any of the unevangelized whom God has chosen to salvation are saved by grace, through a faith response to the particular forms of revelation with which God has blessed them, not by God’s knowledge of how they would have responded to gospel proclamation.
(2) Hamilton states that “God’s choice [of individuals to salvation] arose from his free mercy,” and that “to ignore this understanding of election is to reject the idea that God can choose to demonstrate astonishing love to whomever he pleases” (p. 99). This implication that I do not affirm the sovereignty of God’s electing grace is very misleading and it is puzzling since the whole point of my book is to demonstrate that the ecclesiocentrism that predominates within the Calvinist tradition is not essential to it. I put forward a “five point” Calvinist soteriological proposal, but I concur with Zwingli rather than with Calvin, that God’s elective grace is not restricted to the boundaries of the covenant people, in either Testamental period. The Spirit’s regenerative work sometimes accompanies less explicit forms of divine revelation than the good news ...
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