Faith Comes by Hearing
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--Is general revelation sufficient? Are other religions salvific? Do holy pagans exist? Must faith be explicit? Is exclusivism unjust?--are probed and answered from a biblical, theological and historical perspective.
The book's positive thrust is summed up by editors Robert Peterson and Christopher Morgan : "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."
"Meticulously crisscrossing the arena of recent evangelical debate, these essays make a compelling case against Christian hypotheses of salvation for some apart from faith in Christ. This is the book against which self-styled inclusivists will henceforth have to argue."
"Is personal faith in Jesus Christ the only way of salvation, and what does this mean for this mission of the church in the twenty-first century? No two questions are more urgent on the evangelical agenda today, and this book deals honestly and forthrightly with both of them. A superb collection of essays reflecting biblical wisdom and churchly theology in the service of the gospel."
"Faith Comes by Hearing: A Response to Inclusivism is a refreshing voice in an increasingly confusing evangelical literary output on matters pertaining to human religions. This timely book is a very helpful guide to Christians who want to seriously examine the biblical and theological issues for themselves. Useful to specialists and nonspecialists."
"These thoughtful, irenic and informed essays provide an important response to more 'inclusivist' perspectives on the question of the destiny of the unevangelized. This is a helpful contribution to a complex and controversial set of issues."
"For those who are more interested in faithful alignment with what Scripture says than in sentimentality on this extraordinarily challenging subject, this is now the book to read. Courteous in tone yet thoroughly engaged with those who take contrary positions, the contributors lead us with exegetical care, theological poise and pastoral sensitivity through a thicket of common objections. I warmly recommend this book."
"No greater challenge faces the church of Jesus Christ than religious inclusivism--the belief that sincere people of many religions have enough truth to be saved from spiritual ruin. In an age of tolerance for all that does not seem to hurt or inhibit, no note sounds more discordant than an exclusivistic requirement of faith in Jesus Christ. Yet--with patience, respect and biblical rigor--Morgan, Peterson et al. show such an exclusive claim is in the Bible. Nothing could be more insensitive and arrogant than repeating this claim--unless it is true. Then, nothing could be more gracious and necessary than this book's message."
"A helpful, scholarly critique of inclusivism by various evangelical authors."
"The fate of those who have never heard the gospel is one of the great mysteries of our faith. Christians have long speculated about whether and how God may have spoken to those who have not been exposed to the church's preaching of salvation through Christ alone. This book deals respectfully with the different views of the subject which are found among evangelical believers while seeking to remain faithful to the teaching of Jesus himself. It is a model of how we should discuss such a delicate matter and come to a decision which upholds the uniqueness of the one and only Savior of mankind."
"An excellent introduction to the subject and repays repeated careful reading. It is highly recommended for pastors, teachers, and students."
". . .every Bible college student, seminarian, and conscientious Christian should read and seriously consider their thoughts regarding the spiritual condition of the lost and the eternal destiny of those who die apart from personal faith in Christ."
List of Contributors
1 Introduction by Robert A. Peterson
2 Inclusivisms and Exclusivisms by Christopher W. Morgan
3 General Revelation: Sufficient or Insufficient? by Daniel Strange
4 Exclusivism: Unjust or Just? by William Edgar
5 Other Religions: Saving or Secular? by Eckhard J. Schnabel
6 Holy Pagans: Reality or Myth? by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
7 Saving Faith: Implicit or Explicit? by Stephen J. Wellum
8 Inclusivism versus Exclusivism on Key Biblical Texts by Robert A. Peterson
9 The Gospel for All Nations by Andreas J. Köstenberger
10 God?s Zeal for His World by J. Nelson Jennings
11 Answers to Notable Questions by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson