Sunday, April 05, 2009

Exclusivism and Inclusivism

Some information about those terms. If I recall correctly even the ultraconservative Pope Pius IX was not an exclusivist.


Gordon Knight said...

The webpage may be right on w/respect to pluralism but is seriously misleading with respect to universalism.

There are two sorts of universalism, contingent and necessary. The article only refers to necessary universalism (the claim that of necessity all will be saved. Yet it is also possible to be a contingent universalism: all will in fact be saved, but this is not a necessary truth. Since I happen to be one of these oddball contingent univesalists, I thought I should point this out.

But even with respect to necessary univesalism, the article misleads. It is implied that universalists embrace pluralism. Yet Thomas Talbott, foremost proponent of universalism argues from the standpoint of exclusivism--all are saved through Christ, but this salvation may occur after death, and once one is given a post-mortem awareness of God's goodness etc. it is not really possible to refuse the offer of salvation. (T's arguments are more complex, can't really do justice here). Origin's univesalism was also of this type, and it is not really that odd a view to take, once one realizes that this life constitutes only a small sliver of the reality (and salvific possibilities) that is available and known to God.

Victor Reppert said...

Yes, I probably should have said something about that. You can be a universalist in Tom's sense without attributing any saving power to other religions.

Ron said...

I am an inclusivist who leans somewhat towards universalism. What do you guys think of conservative Christians who treat these views as outright heretical? I think this attitude arises from an over-reliance on the Augustine/Calvinist tradition. Exclusivism has always seemed far-fetched to my mind even before I learned much about Christianity.

"All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men...The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world." (John 1:3-4, 9)

Like C.S. Lewis, I believe that since Jesus is the Light, all that is good belongs to him and is from him. The one who is charitable in the name of Allah is closer to Christ than one who murders in the true name. A high Christology demands inclusivism, I believe.

Anonymous said...

I think the biggest issue with more conservative christians is that they tend to associate universalism with what amounts to dead faith. Meaning, why be concerned about morality? Why be concerned about spreading the gospel? Why be concerned about maintaining anything? Everyone is saved anyway.

And just so it's not misunderstood: I don't think the problem is that they think these reactions necessarily follow from universalism. More than they get the impression that proponents would think these things follow.

Ron said...


I admit that universalism can coincide with a liberalism that ultimately leads to a dead faith. I believe a good case can be made for a conservative Christian universalism.

IlĂ­on said...

Any universalism must clash with the direct statements that some will be lost -- including some who think themselves saved.

And, any absolute exclusivism must clash with the direct statements that some will be saved who did not even know they were doing Christ's will.

Anonymous said...


I don't deny that at all - in fact I agree. I wanted to be careful in distinguishing between perceptions and reality. The challenge is to provide a serious universalism that is developed more out of reason and fidelity to scripture and Christian thought. And one that manages to speak louder than the group mentioned.