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TH 513 Systematic Theology II Week 12, Session 2

Be sure to read both the assigned Geisler reading and the book chapters posted as articles by Dr. Hardgrove. Geisler, Vol. 3, chapter 14

Geisler, Norman Vol. 3
Chapter 14

“The Exclusivity of Salvation (Pluralism)”
pp. 410-429

Defining our Terms
Pluralism: The belief that every religion is true. Each provides a genuine encounter with the Ultimate, and while one may be better than others, all are adequate Relativism: Claims that every religion is true for the one adhering to it. If there is no objective religious truth, then there are no criteria by which we can discern that one religion is true or better than another. Inclusivism: Maintains that one religion is explicitly true, and all others are implicitly true. Exclusivism: Holds that only one religion is true and that what is opposed to it in other religions is false.

Christianity is Exclusivistic
The unparalleled saving work of Christ is the only means of salvation. This one of the great principles of Protestantism. Along with “Scripture alone” (Lat. sola scriptura) and “faith alone” (Lat. sola fidei), “salvation by grace alone” stands at the heart of evangelistic theology.

Exclusive Soteriological Claims of Christ
John 3:18—Whoever believes in [me] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son. John 3:36—Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him. John 10:1, 9—I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. . . . I am the gate; whoever enter through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. John 8:24—If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins. John 14:6—I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Exclusive Soteriological Claims of Scripture
Acts 4:12—Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. 1 Tim. 2:5—There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Heb. 10:12, 14—[W]hen [Christ] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God . . . Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

The Philosophical Problem with Pluralism
As someone who has had to deal with the argument from the pluralists that it is impossible to claim that Christianity is the only way for salvation, I’ve found that the quickest way to end the argument is to point out the logical fallacy of the pluralist argument. If they claim all religions are right and represent different ways to God, then Christianity is right in saying that Jesus is the only way, therefore, according to the pluralists’ own argument, all others are wrong. Of course the same argument could be made by any other religion that is exclusivist.