Posted in Book Reviews, Contextualization, That Theology Thing

Inclusivism That Returns a Story of Hope

A Wideness in God’s Mercy – Clark Pinnock

Clark Pinnock in A Wideness in God’s Mercy: The Finality of Jesus Christ in a World of Religions, offers an optimistic view of salvation. Pinnock further proposes an Evangelical theology of religions with an emphasis on inclusivism that returns a story of hope. Pinnock’s compelling case for optimistic salvation has broad impact for mission and it helps us understand the breadth of God’s purpose in the world.

God’s plan for salvation and the scope of His love for humanity remain relevant concerns in our secular and pluralistic world. But can the tension between God’s love for the whole world (the many) and the salvation offered through Jesus Christ (the one) be resolved without compromising the basic tenants of the Christian faith?  Pinnock’s vision does not diminish the importance of the Christ instead it enlarges the wideness of God’s mercy.

Pinnock raises an interesting discussion as he considers “pagan saints” in the biblical narrative. These are those individuals that came to saving faith apart from the covenant community. Saving faith returns a Theocentric rather Christocentric focus.

My perspective is that men cannot find God apart from Christ.  Jesus is the difference maker, the way, the truth, and the life. But this does not mean that God cannot find men. It seems all agree that the God of the earth will always do right. Can we also agree that the God of all the earth will do what he wants? Elevating the narrative themes that focus on God’s persistent love raises optimism regarding salvation. Is this not our hearts cry? Is this not the God that we hope for?

Pinnock’s inclusivist model helps me embrace the work of God in all contexts. I can adopt a centered set view that identifies people by proximity to the God and to Jesus. It offers ability for dialogue that enables me to affirm what is good. Following Timothy I can use that good as common ground to both be enlightened and share the good news of Jesus.

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