Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Terminology Tuesday: Exclusivism

Exclusivism: Within Christian theology, the view that salvation is possible (at least for adults since the time of Christ) only for those who explicitly have faith in Jesus. This view is contrasted with inclusivism, which holds that, though people can only be saved through Christ, it is possible that some who lack explicit faith in Christ in this life will be saved by him, and pluralism, which holds that Jesus is not the only means of salvation. More broadly, the term is used for any religious view that holds that salvation is possible only through that particular religion.1

1. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 43.


Anonymous said...

I think I would fall into the inclusive category but with some clarifications. Jesus, who is God, accomplished a work of salvation on the cross. We do not appropriate it for ourselves, but rather, God uses the work of Christ to save us when we have faith in him. Therefore, a man in the deepest darkest jungle of Africa who has never heard the name Christ can still have faith in Christ and be saved by Christ if he has faith in God for salvation. He just doesn't know Jesus' name. He is held responsible for the knowledge he does possess, namely, knowledge of a creator, his own corruptness, and need for salvation. To cry out to God is to cry out to Jesus, for he is one and the same.

Anonymous said...

Does it need to be qualified to point out that exclusivism still allows salvation for the pre-Christian Jews, etc.?

nascent said...

It would appear that at times, yes. Otherwise irrelevantaxiom wouldn't need to anticipate all those questions about '[men] in the deepest darkest jungle of Africa'.

Anonymous said...


Even what I said is very exclusive. If the man in the deepest darkest jungle had knowledge of a creator and knowledge of his own corruptness, but did not have faith in God, he would be excluded from the salvation of God. He would not have faith in God. Everyone throughout history has been saved through faith, from Adam to Abraham to now.

The descriptions of exclusivity or inclusiveness all hinge upon what it means to be saved. What is salvation. I think we can agree that it's not just believing in God or even just repentance.

nascent said...


Sure; you said as much in your original post.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a bit wrong to add the caveat "(at least for adults since the time of Christ)" in the definition of exclusivism. How is that exclusive? Either salvation can potentially be had apart from explicit, knowledgeable faith in Christ- or it can't! You can't have your cake and eat it, too! Belief in an "age of accountability" type of idea puts you somewhere on the spectrum of inclusivism, which is where I believe the Bible would have us. Anyone straying so far as to be essentially a religious pluralist, however, has strayed into heresy. Where exactly is that line? God only knows. That's why systematic theology is a dangerous pursuit- God has not given the answers to ALL the questions- just what WE need to know to do his will.

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