In this past January’s issue of Credo Magazine, “In Christ Alone,” A. B. Caneday has written an important article evaluating the inclusivist’s use (and abuse) of Romans 10:9-17. First, a little about A. B. Caneday. Ardel Caneday (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is Professor of New Testament Studies and Biblical Studies at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has served churches in various pastoral roles, including senior pastor. He has authored numerous journal articles, many essays in books, and has co-authored with Thomas Schreiner the book The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance (Inter-Varsity, 2001).

Caneday’s article is titled: “Faith Comes By Hearing: Inclusivists’ Abuse of Romans 10:9-17.” He begins by writing,

“For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” is a familiar passage of Scripture treasured by many Christians who embraced it from their youth when they first memorized it. Belief in the truthfulness of this passage, followed by the apostle Paul’s consequential argument in Romans 10:13-17 (that flows from his quotation of Joel 2:32—“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”), has persuaded believers throughout church history to bring the good news concerning God’s grace in Christ Jesus to those who have never heard the gospel. The love of Christ constrains them, for apart from hearing the message of the gospel no one can call upon the Lord and be saved but rather they will perish in their sins.

However, some in the church object that to believe this is to render God an exclusivist and his salvation in Christ restrictive. These folks, knowing how to control the conversation in a politically charged environment, emerge from the church to affix a tag of austerity and lack of compassion upon Christians who steadfastly hold the historic belief of the church that God’s wrath rests upon all who never hear the gospel so that unless they hear and believe in Christ they will never be saved but bear eternal shame. This belief and all who endorse it in a world that cherishes inclusivism now wear contemptuous epithets—“exclusivist” and “restrictivist”—that incite images of people who inhabit a gated community.

Those who choose to identify themselves with the more pleasant sounding name, inclusivist, insist that a God who would condemn anyone while not making salvation universally accessible to everyone is harsh and unloving, like exclusivist evangelicals. By way of contrast to exclusivists, inclusivists present themselves as champions both for those who have never heard the gospel and for the wideness of God’s mercy. They doctrinally separate themselves from Christians whose gospel they allege excludes the world’s masses. They distinguish themselves from the historic Christian faith which commonly confesses both the necessity of proclaiming the gospel and the necessity of belief in Christ Jesus in order for anyone to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. Against what they decry as exclusivism, these contemporary inclusivists style themselves as proclaiming “God’s boundless generosity” to the unevangelized masses and “the salvation God so magnanimously gives” even apart from the preaching of the gospel. They advocate what they are persuaded is a kinder and gentler message that they believe is properly called “good news” unlike the harsh and austere gospel they allege most evangelicals embrace.

Read the rest of Caneday’s article today!

The January issue argues for the exclusivity of the gospel, especially in light of the movement known as inclusivism. This issue will seek to answer questions like: Can those who have never heard the gospel of Christ be saved? Will everyone be saved in the end or will some spend an eternity in hell? Must someone have explicit faith in Christ to be saved? Contributors include David Wells, Robert Peterson, Michael Horton, Gerald Bray, Todd Miles, Todd Borger, Ardel Caneday, Nathan Finn, Trevin Wax, Michael Reeves, and many others.

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