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The Meaninglessness of Christian Inclusivism without....

The Meaninglessness of Christian Inclusivism without Repentance

This paragraph ponders the meaninglessness of Christian inclusivism that says Christ has saved all people regardless of their faith and lifestyle. If such inclusivism were true, then haters of God have always been saved and will always be saved regardless if they never repent of hating God. Likewise, what is the value of proposing that a departed hater of God went to heaven and continued to hate God? Or what is the value of proposing that populations in heaven will continue to disbelieve Christ as Lord? However, perhaps Christian inclusivists believe that departed unbelievers go to heaven and eventually embrace Christ as Lord. That would mean that everybody eventually converts to Christian faith, so that inclusivism would no longer include unbelievers. … stian.html

metanoia, the word translated as “repentance” so as to give more mileage to the unhelpful use of “penance”, actually means a changing/transformation of the mind.
i would think that full disclosure - seeing their lives, seeing God’s love - would engender this change of mind in the most hardened sinner. therefore i think the salvation of all will include, necessarily, the repentance of all.
and let’s be honest. a hardened sinner may have good reason for being what they are. they may even hate God for understandable reasons (ie God misrepresented, or God appearing to not care due to apparent intervention).
a “good” person however may be full of pride and self-righteousness, secure in their own minds and much better than others.
which of these do you think will have the easiest time having the scales removed from their eyes?

inclusivism, to me, says that not one of us is qualified to judge how much repentance another person needs. it says that regardless of who comes before God or what baggage they are carrying (hurts, sins, misconceptions, lack of faith or faith in the wrong things), God includes them…and so should we. we can’t judge where someone is on their journey, but chances are we can learn from them as much as they can from us.

this should be less a school of thought and more a general state of being to which we all adhere. not inclusivism, but inclusivity.

It has been my observation that most people who express an apparently “hatred of God” do so from a skewed knowledge base, i.e., their knowledge of God upon which their supposed hatred has been formed is in total error; mind you, religianity has done a right number on misrepresenting “God” and I’m not surprised many have an aversion to Him, because I too reject the tyrannical God so often presented.

The reality is such folk are actually ignorant as to who God really is – and we know from the apostle Paul that ignorance is no barrier to His gracious mercy 1Tim 1:13].

Exactly true… that’s why I would not countenance such a thing and suspect many a heart will melt as they step through death’s doorway.

What does Inclusivism mean, James? To me it would mean that Jesus is the savior of the world (not just a few lucky/smart ones) and that everyone will eventually (in this life or later) figure that out – with His help of course, and maybe the help of others who have already repented. But reading your paragraph, I think maybe my guess was wrong . . .

i think it’s more talking about the attitude where we don’t instantly dismiss other faiths or religious people simply because they don’t subscribe to our favourite beliefs. it’s the attitude where we realise we have loads to learn from others just as they may do from us.
at least that’s my take on it, which is why i wonder how it could be meaningless to be this humble

Just a quickie –

I’ll chime with James here. I’d call myself an ‘inclusivist Christian’. As opposed to a pluralist – who affirms there are many paths to God – I believe that Christ is the only way to the fullness of God. However, it seems to me that the way of Christ – of acceptance of free grace, repentance, and growth in discipleship to Loves’ work – is not only manifested in the lives of people who explicitly believe in Christian dogma or have had certain kinds of religious experiences. I feel I see evidence of the dynamic of Christ’s saving work also in the lives of people of other faiths, and indeed in the lives of people that are not conventionally religious or who even profess atheism; sometmes the evidence is greater than it is in the lives of Christians. These people do go through repentance and progress in love’s work, and can live lives that are full of grace, and I believe that one day they will recognise the fullness of their aspirations in Christ in glory.

(Mind you if you look at Richard Beck’s blogs there is a very interesting dicussion of Mark Heim’s book ’ The Depth of Riches’ that opens up a more detailed and nuanaced debate about pluralsim v. inclusivism - which I’m not really addressing in this post; see … sm-or.html)

I think the idea that is labelled as inclusivism in this article is more akin to something I’ve seen Jason describe as ‘hyper-universalism’ (but would need conformation about this hunch).

All universalists are in a way inclusivists – because they believe that in the end God will include all in his eschatological kingdom. I once read a post by Robin Parry about an address he gave at an atheist friend’s funeral. At the time of writing this post Robin claimed to be an exclusivist who was/is open to inclusivism. However, in the address he spoke of his faith that Christ would complete the goodness and love in his friend’s life. So universalists who are exclusivists (and believe in the necessity of post mortem conversion) are not that far from Universalist inclusivists. I guess the only difference is the latter give more emphasis to the grace that is happening now in the lives of non-Christians; but the difference is very small.


Also Davo I’d agree that some people ‘hate’ an idea of God and not the true livnig God of love.

Hey Cindy -

Just reliased htat i was also to clarifying something you said in your last post here - which I miseed when I scanned through. Oh well, hope I’ve clarified rather than further muddying the waters :laughing:

I was a Unitarian Universalist for a time, but then I came back to believing the way to God is only thru Jesus. This was because, to me, in addition to repentance and forgiveness, Jesus is the only Way that was truly personalized to each individual, meeting emotional and physical needs in this life and in the next. And I learned about CEU. :smiley:

Not every disbeliever is a horrible, evil person—anymore than the rest of us sinners anyway. A lot of the people I met have serious problems believeing in Jesus because of the history of the church–which you have to admitt got way away from Jesus quite a bit of the time, ie. the Inquistions, Crusades, seculariztion of the church, continual splitting of the church sometimes over minor points and sometimes not (bah humbug on Calvanism) but all they see is the splits, they are not interested in the theology.

Some other people have been badly hurt by people professing to be Christians, hurt as children and there isn’t much one can say to heal that in this life. Others seem to be rebelling against Christianity as part of rebelling agains their parents. And others simply don’t believe in the reality of God.

I also agree, God is quite capable of putting truths that can lead to Him in other religions, some people may even come to meet Jesus without knowing it if He wishes it.

For these people, once they actually see Jesus I think belief and repentance will be almost instantaneous—and I don’t see a time limit on salvation. They will finally have all the data they need for a decision as various things in this life have kept them from having the tool/gift of faith. So I think they will be with Jesus and us pretty quickly. This would also include most of the people who never heard about Jesus.

For others that have deliberately chosen evil, and I am not naive enough to think that some people have not made that choice I don’t know how God will get them to come to repentance—but I believe He will and I am quite happy to leave it to Him. But until they have repented I don’t think they will be with those that already have—unless there is a place where even then we do witnessing and testify about Jesus.

Hmm. for some reason my post didn’t stick…

Anyway, I just observed that there were some good thoughts on here. My view is that true biblical inclusivism does not assume no need for repentance, but rather assumes that any needed repentance will occur in due course; “Each in his own order”.

Hi Cindy,

I suppose that any attempt to summarize a complex idea in a single paragraph can run into semantic problems. If you believe that Jesus is the Savior of everybody in the world and that means that everybody has always been saved or at least everybody has always been saved since the death and resurrection of Jesus, then you hold to both Christian inclusivism and universalism. But I am unsure if that is what you are implying. I also guess that you do not believe that everybody will merely eventually figure out that Jesus is Savior while some might perpetually rebel but that everybody will eventually embrace that Jesus is Savior.

Well, if you believe that everybody has always been saved by Jesus, then we disagree about that. I see the Bible teaching about an inclusive offer to the new covenant while there are conditions that restrict the new covenant. In any case, we both agree that everybody will eventually embrace the new covenant in life or afterlife. :slight_smile:

Hi James :slight_smile: -

Sorry when I said I was an ‘inclusivist’ on the back of what the other James (Corpselight) was saying we seem to ne using it in a rather different sense. Thanks for clarifying - it means that my post was unintentionally muddying the issue :blush: :laughing:

Even this can come down to semantics. Does the “already/ not yet” principle not qualify as (in a sense) saying essentially the same thing as everyone has ‘always’ been saved?
Perhaps a less confusing and more accurate way to say this is; everyone has always been destined to be saved.

If it’s true that all are eventually saved, then the difference is really a matter of when, not if; right?

I hold to inaugurated eschatology and the concept of “already/ not yet.” That is specific to new covenant believers until the Lord’s return.

In the case of definite univeralism, which I also hold, then yes, every individual salvation is a matter of “when and not if.” But that does not mean that the salvation already partially happened for everybody. If a definite universalist used the “already/ not yet” language, then it would be a different concept than covenant believers struggling between two worlds.

In the case of hopeful universalism, then it would be a matter of “if.”

I’m not sure I’m quite grasping the distinction.
The Hebraist writes that “You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.”

What this tells me is that all things are already in subjection to Christ even though we don’t see that having been actualized yet from our end.
So, I take that to mean that in some sense the subjection has already partially happened for everyone. I’m not understanding how this doesn’t apply to salvation as well.

There appears to be various layers to this. In one sense, all creation has always been subject to the Lord. Also, the biblical imagery of subjection to the Lord’s feet is imagery of the Lord subjugating enemies regardless if the enemies desire reconciliation with the Lord. This appears different than saying that enemies of God are in some way already saved.

Hi James (Goetz – not Corpselight)

I picked up on this discussion from clicking ‘New Posts’ so I didn’t fully realise that it was one of your personal threads (I’ve hardly ever posted on the ‘Featured threads’ – I just thought it was an ordinary thread :blush:).

Anyway – I was thinking about the definition of inclusivism that you and Melchi (and indeed Cindy) are working with. I think the broad idea of inclusivism that the rest of us were working from is also a genuine meaning of inclusivism but it addresses a different issue. It seems to me that you and Melchi and Cindy are talking about ‘inclusivism; in an eschatological sense, and looking at the coherence or incoherence of the concept from this angle.

I think the rest of us are talking about Inclusivism as a relational concept rooted in the here and now. How do we hold fast to the distinctive Truth of our faith in a pluralist world? How can we be Christians and witness to our faith but at the same time live in charity and understanding with our non-Christian friends and neighbours?

Is there any link between the two meanings of Inclusivism in your view? Or are they entirely separate?

All the best


Hi Dick (Sobornost),

Per your last comment in the this thread, in the field of theology, the term inclusivism refers to the subject of salvation (soterology). For example, here is a THEOPEDIA article on “Inclusivism”

Concerning our attitudes toward unbelievers, I promote the Pauline teaching of becoming all things to all people apart from compromising our relationship with God (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). I believe this involves respect for unbelievers. I suppose many have met immature expressions of exclusive Christian faith, which causes problems. But the answer to that problem is maturity instead of theological inclusivism.

Hi James –

Thanks for that :slight_smile: – the clarification is very helpful, because I have seen ‘inclusivism’ used in a woollier sense in the UK. I’ll be careful to use it only in the sense you’ve given in the future to avoid misunderstanding. I’ve seen other terms used like ‘replacement model’ versus ‘fulfilment model’ to describe what I was driving at. But these terms are pertinent to an entirely different discussion.

And I’d agree – inclusivism without repentance is nonsense.

All good wishes


Catching up on this thread:

Back before I became a universalist, soteriological inclusivism broadly involved the notion that Christ can save people without them becoming Christians during life, but that some people still won’t be saved for whatever reasons. There were many variants of the position (Calv or Arm, ECT or anni, universal pre-mortem opportunity or post-mortem salvation), but that was the gist. Jim’s link to the Theopedia entry on inclusivism synchs with that.

Thus inclusivism was/is positioned between exclusivism, which requires that only cognitively professing pre-mortem Christians per se can be saved (some special exceptions being perhaps allowed, such as the young and mentally challenged), and universalism which holds that everyone will become Christian eventually post mortem.

In What About Those Who Have Never Heard?, a three-way debate between Gabriel Fackre, John Sanders and Ronald Nash, the first two came to realize they really held very similar “inclusivistic” beliefs, the starting distinction being that Sanders thought people were saved by how they responded to Christ’s hidden actions in this life and Fackre thinking that people are saved based on how they respond to Christ’s explicit invitation in the next life; but Sanders was the position regarded as “inclusivistic”. (Fackre called his position “divine perseverance”.)

They also both decided they ought to do more research on this George MacDonald fellow they’ve been hearing about. :mrgreen: Not sure what if anything ever came of that.

Hi Jason,

I suppose that if Sanders’ view were correct, then everybody who has responded to Christ’s hidden actions in this life would jump on the Gospel at the first moment that they heard or saw it. I hear of some testimonies like this, but not many. Also, unlike my view, if I correctly recall, Sander’s does not have room for the post-mortem conversion of people who rejected Christ in this life. But I strongly support that God literally never gives up on anybody.