Liberty University A Book Analysis of “Is Jesus the Only Savior” AN ANALYSIS PAPER SUBMITTED TO Dr. Daniel Light, PhD IN COMPLETION OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR Theology 313 BY Gabriel Lopez Lynchburg, Virginia June 18, 2012 Introduction The title of Nash’s book is fitting for the content in which it contains. One will not find the traditional arguments that come with Soteriology.
Initially, the author thought that he would be reading a book that covers a topic that had been written numerous times and so pleasantly surprised with its content.
Nash begins his book with an introduction to three main philosophical views when it comes to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Nash does a great job in succinctly defining each of the three main philosophical views. Those views are pluralism, inclusivism, and exclusivism.
In the opening chapter of his book, Nash states three reasons for writing this book: (1) To examine pluralism to see if it succeeds in presenting a strong enough case against Christianity’s teaching that Jesus is the only Savior, (2) to examine inclusivism to see if it presents a strong enough case against exclusivism and (3) to present the reasons for espousing exclusivism.
Nash begins with defining Christian exclusivism with two necessary statements. Nash defines a Christian Exclusivist as one who believes that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of mankind, and that expressive faith in Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation.
Before Nash moves on to briefly defining pluralism and inclusivism, he takes a few pages to position exclusivism and its teaching from the authority of Scripture. This is an important part in the argument for exclusivism because as Nash states, “Such people need to recognize that while humans are free to reject the authority of Scripture, they will only substitute some other authority in its place. ” Again the author wants to restate the importance of this statement because a person’s view or opinion on the authority of Scripture will always determine whether they will have support for any argument made against exclusivism.
Nash then moves on to define a pluralist as ‘a person who thinks humans may be saved through a number of different religious traditions and saviors. ” In the last section just before the conclusion we are introduced to the philosophical view of inclusivism. Although many inclusivists would be considered Christians, its important to know that the venom from this heretical doctrine is more deadly than that of pluralism only because of its close ties with exclusivism.
Inclusivism is the belief that there is only one savior for human kind, expressive faith is not necessarily part of salvation. The argument that comes from this philosophical view is broken down in short words by Nash in giving away the two distinct technical terms frequently used by inclusivists. Nash states, “They distinguish between ontological necessity of Christ’s work as redeemer and the separate claim that Christ’s redemptive work is ontologically necessary. ” Ontologically, Inclusivists state that the atonement made by Jesus Christ is the only way for any human to be saved.
They argue however that epistemologically, it is not necessary for a person to know what they believe ontologically in order to be saved. Pluralism’s Leader The next five chapters deal with pluralism and one of its major proponents, John Hick. As we previously noted, pluralism asserts that all religions can and do lead to salvation. Hick’s brand of pluralism has been an evolving and very inconsistent one as he has tried to deal with the many logical inconsistencies that he has found himself in throughout his journey through this philosophy that Nash points out quite well.
Nash points out how initially; Hick’s early arguments were riddled with logical inconsistencies that stem from trying to work backwards from the conclusions he had made without any logical flow to his arguments. One for example would be his conclusion that God cannot be known in any way. He even argues that we should not call God by his name because since God is unknowable, we don’t know His name. Now whether this is true or not, Hick has a logical argument at this point. Nash points out that Hick’s convictions for a pluralistic philosophical view are because he believes that God is a loving being.
His argument has just become non sequitor and as a result exploited by Nash as well as other scholars. Although it seems that over the years Kick’s arguments for a pluralistic system have grown stronger in content, they reveal just as many problems as the first system. Hick moves his system from centering on the character of God to his own definition of salvation. Hick’s hoped this would resolve his inconsistencies with the character of God, but he ends up doing the exact same thing he did in His first system.
Nash enlightens us to the fact that now Hick’s system has set up criteria to judge certain religions to see if they are indeed authentic and would therefore accomplish this salvation. Nash does a fine job once again at pointing out the logical problems in this supposedly better view of pluralism. He cites the logical laws of the excluded middle and non-contradiction as examples of two such problems. Even to non-Christians with little knowledge of philosophy or logic could clearly see that Hick’s views don’t even make good common sense.
The conclusion to chapter 3 sums up the system really well. Nash states, “His distinction between the phenomenal gods and the noumenal God only serves to plunge him into serious conceptual difficulties. ” It is quite funny to see that in chapter 4 Nash turns to pluralism’s leaders and their take on truth and reason. Funny, because up to this point Hick has shown, through both of his pluralistic systems, that he knows very little of truth and reason. Both of Hick’s systems for a pluralistic view of salvation have come up way short in both areas of truth and reason.
Nash has done an amazing job up to this point in refuting John Hick’s position. Now Nash takes on the pluralistic mindset of some other prominent pluralists. The author believes this to be strategic in not only being able to exploit the flaws of John Hick’s logic but also to point out that he is not the only pluralistic philosopher who thinks this way. From the very outset of this book, Ronald Nash has been determined in writing in such a language and style that is readable and easy to understand.
This is where Nash thrives in this aspect of his book. Chapter 4 is filled with what is often difficult philosophical language. Nash stays true to his purpose in both refuting pluralistic philosophical views and presenting it in a way that is understandable. This is a very difficult task that is accomplished by using analogies such as Ross Perot to state the fundamental laws of logic. To be specific, the principle of the excluded middle and the law of non-contradiction are clearly taught and would presumably be understood by most readers.
In chapter 5 Nash recognizes that the pluralists view is dependent upon the traditional understanding of Jesus Christ. John Hick also understands this and so attacks the traditional view of both the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. Not only does Hick attack the deity of Christ but also the essential doctrine of the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity. Nash points out that Hick approaches the Incarnation as a myth. Hick’s beliefs that while myths are never literally true they do present the opportunity to be practically true.
As Nash observes, this mythical interpretation of the slogan “Jesus is my Savior’, the Atonement and the Resurrection can be thrown out the window. It is in this portion of the book where we see biblical evidence being presented. So far up to this point, Nash has just refuted pluralist’s claims with good logic and reasoning but here Nash goes to the Scriptures to see what claims Jesus Christ made about himself. The author believes this to be strategic as well. In the opening chapter Nash stressed the importance of the authority of Scripture but really hasn’t needed to use Scripture as a basis for any of his arguments.
In this light it is easy to see that pluralisms claims fall short of true logic and reasoning and now brings in the biblical evidence for the proverbial “nail in the coffin’. Nash has all grounds covered in this chapter as the credibility of the New Testament is brought into question by Hick and other pluralists. Nash points out however that the two forms of textual criticism used by pluralists are not reasons enough for us to question the credibility of the New Testament. Nash proceeds and concludes chapter 5 by illuminating the potholes in Hick’ arguments against the dual natures of Christ.
Although the argument can be a paradox of sorts Nash uses Thomas Morris’ argument for the full humanity of Jesus Christ as opposed to his mere humanity. Conclusion Nash has written a very informative work on the arguments for pluralism. The strength of this book is its readability and plain language approach. Nash’ writing style is of great importance to many bible college students and lay people alike. This book does not seem as though it is written by a scholar for scholars but intended for the average Joe who wants a better understanding of the arguments of pluralism.
Although you won’t find any of the rebuttals by John Hick and his contemporaries in this book, you will find the major arguments defined and exploited for what they are. In defense for exclusivism, Ronald Nash is a true defender of the faith and it is obvious that he has a high view of Scripture and an exalted view of Jesus Christ. Even in the face of increasing pressure for Christians to change their view of Christ and the way of salvation we have a work that will not only inform Christians to stand strong for the faith, we also have a tool to be used as an apologetic.
A tool that will embolden true, genuine Christ followers to take up their cross and contend for the faith. Ronald Nash’s work also comes at such a great and needed time. The book was written and published in 1995 but with the recent release of Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins” it seems as though the timing is perfect and maybe even divinely ordained as a precursor to the conditions in which we now live. Nash ended the first section of his book with an excellent quote that I believe resonates strongly today to those who follow the pluralistic teachings of Hick, Smith, Knitter, and now Rob Bell. Any Christian who would become pluralists must cease being Christians. ” Bibliography Nash, Ronald H. Is Jesus the Only Savior. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. Nash, Ronald H. Is Jesus the Only Savior. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994. [ 2 ]. ibid [ 3 ]. ibid [ 4 ]. Nash, Ronald H. Is Jesus the Only Savior. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994. [ 5 ]. Nash, Ronald H. Is Jesus the Only Savior. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994.
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