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Faith Comes By Hearing: A Response to Inclusivism

By Robert A. Peterson
October 2008 | Review by John Brand

Synopsis

What about those who have never heard? The debate swirls and feelings run deep. What is the fate of the unevangelized? The traditional position-that apart from an explicit faith in Jesus no one is saved-seems to have fallen out of favor with many evangelicals. Here is a passionate but irenic response to the arguments of those who believe that the unevangelized can (or might) be saved apart from knowledge of Jesus Christ. Building on the insights of others, nine scholars introduce readers, even those with little background, to the ongoing discussion. Key questions are probed and answered from a biblical, theological and historical perspective. The book's positive thrust is summed up by editors: 'God is passionately engaged in gathering people to know, love and worship him from every tribe, language, people and nation. And he has called us to join him on this mission.'

  • Publisher: Apollos
  • ISBN: 978-1844742523
  • Pages: 256
  • Price: £12.99
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Book Review

Is general revelation in any sense sufficient to lead to saving faith? Can anyone be saved because of their sincere adherence to another belief system? These are among the questions addressed and answered in this excellent book.

The issue of whether anyone can be saved without an explicit saving experience of Christ has been the basis of one of the most contentious and sensitive debates of recent years.

Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson have done the church a great service in compiling this collection of papers by a number of eminent evangelical writers, including Walter Kaiser and Andreas Kostenberger – who examine the claims of the various inclusivist views from a scriptural basis and an unashamedly exclusivist position (which in no way weakens the rigour of their biblical analysis or arguments).

After two chapters in which we are introduced to the wide spectrum of inclusivist views, the main proponents and the issues, each of the five key arguments are dealt with in a detailed and thorough way.

Two chapters then present the biblical exclusivist position, showing how it is the only view consistent with the great missional theme of the Bible. The final chapter – worth the price of the book on its own – is a summary of the most important issues and the biblical responses.

This book is much needed and extremely helpful. Perhaps my only complaint is that though the book is advertised as both ‘a passionate and irenic response’ to inclusivism, it possibly errs in being too irenic.

The dangers of any form of inclusivism are serious and its impact on the church and the work of mission is immense. The errors need to be rebutted forcefully – with a passionate jealousy for the authority of God’s Word and a profound concern for those who are eternally lost.

However, please don’t let that dissuade you from buying, reading and profiting from this excellent book.

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