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Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World Paperback – August 6, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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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Product Details

  • Series: Counterpoints: Bible and Theology
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Revised ed. edition (August 19, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310212766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310212768
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Jackson on August 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is book is part of Zondervan's Counterpoints series. According to the editors of this work, the purpose is to bring Christian thinkers together to discuss the question of the salvation of non-Christians. The contributors are: (1) John Hick, advocating pluralism; (2) Clark Pinnock advocating inclusivism; (3) Alister McGrath advocating a somewhat exclusivistic position; and (4) R. Douglas Geivett & W. Gary Phillips advocating exclusivism.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Having studied these four views previously, I was disappointed after finishing this particular title. All of these authors could have made their arguments much more concise and readable, but none of them chose to do so.
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.
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Format: Paperback
This book offered an expansive and surprisingly lively exchange between four streams of theological thought pertaining to the relationships between Christianity and other religions, specifically in connection with salvation. John Hick represented the pluralism camp, Clark Pinnock represented the inclusivist camp, Alister McGrath represented a more broadly defined camp within particularism, and Douglas Geivett and Gary Phillips jointly represented a narrower branch of particularism.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World edited by Okholm and Gundry discusses the issue of salvation in light of the multiplicity of contemporary worldviews. This is part of the Four Views series published by Zondervan.

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.
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