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Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World Paperback – August 6, 1996
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Frequently Bought Together
Rooted in a 1992 theology conference at Wheaton College, which brought together young Evangelicals to discuss challenges posed by "normative pluralism and inclusivism," this book, like the conference, responds to pluralism as a challenge. The book is a symposium, with chapters by John Hick, Clark Pinnock, Alister McGrath, and R. Douglas Geivett together with W. Gary Phillips. In general, Hick issues the pluralist "challenge," and the other participants respond with inclusivist, particularist, and exclusivist approaches. That Geivett and Phillips, who call their position "evidentialist particularism," get the last word is significant. The book is intended for a conservative Evangelical audience likely to be most sympathetic to the Geivett-Phillips perspective. Putting that perspective last is likely to confirm the audience's sympathy. Putting it in the context of a symposium is likely to raise provocative and constructive questions that might otherwise be overlooked. Steve Schroeder
From the Publisher
Increasingly, Christianity is seen as just one among many valid paths to God. Four views - from salvation in Christ alone to the belief that all ethical religions lead to God - presented by advocates of each, help Christians understand and meet the challenges of our pluralistic culture.
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Top Customer Reviews
Hick basically states that many different religions lead to the same God. Pinnock holds that salvation in Christ may be found through other religions. McGrath asserts salvation is found in a relationship with Christ, and persons who have had no chance to enter that relationship MIGHT receive God's mercy in some unknown way. Geivett and Phillips maintain salvation is ONLY found in a relationship with Christ, and persons who have had no chance to enter that relationship will spend eternity separated from God.
This book could have and should have been written in such a manner to appeal to the average layperson. These individuals are the ones who struggle with these issues and want to be better informed. Instead, all of these essays are directed towards other scholars. The overly-technical manner in which they are written will not appeal to most persons without professional theological training.
For pastors and well-versed teachers, this book provides a helpful summary of four current views on salvation. For everyone else, this volume will be confusing and hard to follow.
I found the experience of reading this book to be extremely rewarding. It was a difficult read, probably as philosophical in nature as anything that I've ever read. The language that the authors used was more complicated and intricate than typical (though they would certainly argue that they dumbed-down and truncated their standard arguments to fit within the confines of this particular format). And I was amazed and pleased by the honesty and direct nature of the dialogue. There were no punches pulled, and these great thinkers were perfectly willing to challenge and even insult each other (or at least each other's ideas).
Though I was drawn to Hick's narrative introduction, I was immediately put-off by his aversion to the Bible. I instantly disconnected when he essentially decried the Bible as a series of man-made texts that were culturally/politically/theologically crafted for particular earthly purposes. I was further frustrated by the tenor of his writing throughout the book and found him to be less gracious than his colleagues. And without any foundation in the Bible or traditional Christian thinking, I found his arguments to be disconnected from any truth-source. Though he brought great challenge to my thinking, I remain unconvinced by his arguments.Read more ›
As is often the case with this series, the book suffers from poor editing. All of the essays are worth reading, but they generally don't deal with the alleged topic of the book. For example, Prof. Hick tells us that he believes in universal salvation and that he has written a book arguing for this position, but he doesn't give his reasons in the essay. Prof. McGrath touches on the issue, but not in any great detail. Prof. Pinnock deals with the topic in a limited manner. It is only Profs. Geivett & Philips who actually go into the question in some detail. They provide an exegesis of Acts 4:12 and some other passages. However, none of the other contributors responds with any detailed exegesis. What is often seen as the key passage concerning the salvation of non-believers -- Romans 2 -- is only mentioned in passing. So, this book is really a discussion of religious pluralism, not salvation.
In spite of my criticism, I think this book is helpful to anyone who wants a background on the general issue of religious pluralism. If you are looking for a discussion of evangelical views of the salvation of non-believers, then this isn't the place to look.
The following four perspectives of salvation are discussed:
* John Hick - Pluralism - all religions lead to God
* Clark Pinnock - Inclusivism - universally available but through Christ
* Douglas Geivett/Gary Philips - Exclusivism - only through acceptance of Christ
* Allister McGgrath - Exclusivism (slightly nuanced)
Although the Four Views series is normally characterized by solid argumentation, it has been criticised for its narrow perspective. This limited scope often makes the texts come of as a bit of an hair splitting exercise between conservative American Protestants. In this regard, the current instalment is notably better - John Hick's extreme liberal if not non-Christian perspective helps to significantly widen the discussion.
With regard to the quality of the contributions, I thought given the limited space they were generally good (McGrath's piece struck me as hastily written and a bit off tone). As one of the most recognizable proponents of religious pluralism, Hick's comments were especially helpful and interesting. Without a doubt he advocates the most politically correct position in the current Western intellectual climate. At the same time, however, it is the most at variance with scripture and tradition - indeed, while hopeful; Hick's position is arguably not truly a Christian one. Pennock's piece and the one by Geivett and Philips were also useful in filling out the spectrum of viewpoints. McGrath while sometimes an able commentator added little to the debate.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Clear and well written book on the four views of salvation. Enjoyed the counter arguments after each chapter.Published 3 months ago by Rose Cabral
The editors wrote in the Introduction to this 1995 book, “This book grew out of the 1992 Wheaton Theology Conference, which brought together younger evangelicals to discuss the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Steven H Propp
This book helps us understand the different views regarding salvation for all humanity. It gives insight into how different scholars address the problem of salvation for those who... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Alfonso Gilbert
Good summation of views and great discussion among the participants.Published 16 months ago by George A. Fritts Jr
This book extends a look at reconstruction as it moved toward the twentieth century.Published 16 months ago by Harold King