Sunday, July 25, 2010

Faith and Knowledge against Inclusivism

In the 5th session of the Faith and Knowledge series, the relation between knowledge and truth was examined. In this light, we looked briefly at the teaching of Inclusivism — which in its most generic form teaches that people can be saved apart from conscious belief in Jesus Christ, and rejected it as heresy.

In Jn. 17:3, it is written:

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (Jn. 17:3)

The motif of eternal life in the Gospel of John always refers to salvation from sin and eternal damnation. In Jesus' high priestly prayer, Jesus explicitly tells us what eternal life is and will thus be manifested as. Eternal life or salvation is manifested in knowing God and Jesus Christ who is sent by God.

If that is indeed the case, then some knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ which is personally embraced by the knower (the biblical idea of knowledge includes personal and relational acceptance of the truth of such knowledge - cf Amos 3:2) must be seen in salvation. If the two are correlated as Jn. 17:3 shows it to be, then there cannot be any salvation/eternal life for those who do not intellectually know and personally accept the truths of the Gospel. Without conscious knowledge of Jesus Christ and His Gospel (nevermind belief), they can be no salvation for anyone at all.

Heb. 9:27 is the final nail in the coffin for the heresy of Inclusivism. Judgment comes immediately (not temporarily but experientially) after death, and thus there are no second chances for anyone to have a "postmortem conversion". Those who do not have conscious faith in Christ in this life do not have eternal life, and do not have any second chance to "gain" eternal life after their earthly life have passed.

Once we see that salvation is linked to knowledge and truth (one of the key points for that session), the error of Inclusivism is easily disposed of, no matter how nuanced and sophisticated the heretics made Inclusivism out to be. Salvation always is by faith which must always include knowledge (cognitio) and assent (assentia), and therefore Inclusivism is most certainly wrong in that light. It is only when faith is made out to be some mystical "spiritual" thing that the door to Inclusivism is opened, which it seems happens in some supposed and so-called Evangelical circles.


Joel Tay said...

Could you elaborate on "personal and relational acceptance"?

PuritanReformed said...


Not in the Barthian sense. "Personal" as opposed to purely intellectual. "Relational" as like Hos. 3:2 whereby God has a special regard for Israel, so we should have a special regard for Christ and His Gospel.

In other words, pleroforia or confidence.

Rick Frueh said...

I applaud your comment on the Slaughter of the Sheep concerning believers being above the level of "gotcha" journalism which is designed to shame the name of Christ as opposed to redemptive correction. I wrote a comment as well but it did not make it through the approved list. Thanks for your wisdom on that thread.

PuritanReformed said...


you're welcome