Tuesday, January 17, 2006

By Jove!

Paul-the-papistical-syncretistic-mariolatrous-schismatic-Owen (hereafter Paul P.S.M.S. Owen for short) has sallied forth with yet another “clarification” concering his aforesaid views regarding the salvation of Muslims, Mormons, and pagans:


Allow me to clarify a few terms as I understand them, pertaining to a Christian view of other religions:

Pluralism: All religions are equally true, and all lead to God.

Inclusivism: Christianity is uniquely true, though God can still save people who seek Him according to the light they find in other religions.

Exclusivism: Only Christianity is ultimately a true path to eternal life, and the Spirit of God does NOT work with soteric efficacy through the teachings and rituals of any other religion. This does not necessarily mean that God may not choose to save others outside the visible Church however. The secret operation of the Spirit may result in grace being received by others who do not in this life accept the claims of the gospel with cognitive understanding. Though exclusivists hold differing views, some examples could be: those who die in infancy; those who are limited by mental handicaps; other elect persons who never receive an effective witness of the claims of Christ (some would limit this to those who receive no exposure to the Bible and Christianity at all). But if any such persons do receive eternal life, it is not out of God’s consideration of their response to, or through the activity of, the works which distinguish any religion other than Christianity. All other religions are soterically impotent.



He doesn’t say which of these represents his own point of view. Having thus defined these three positions, Paul P.S.M.S. Owen proceeds to illustrate his distinctions by an approving quote from Zwingli:


With those distinctions in mind, it is interesting to note the following quote from the Swiss Reformer Zwingli:

“The good which we shall enjoy is infinite and the infinite cannot be exhausted, therefore no one can become surfeited with it, for it is ever new and yet the same. Then you may hope to see the whole company and assemblage of all the saints, the wise, the faithful, brave, and good who have lived since the world began. Here you will see the two Adams, the redeemed and the redeemer, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, Phineas, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and the Virgin Mother of God of whom he prophesied, David, Hezekiah, Josiah, the Baptist, Peter, Paul; here too, Hercules, Theseus, Socrates, Aristides, Antigonus, Numa, Camillus, the Catos and Scipios; here Louis the Pious, and your [King Francis I] predecessors, the Louis, Philips, Pepins, and all your ancestors who have gone hence in faith. In short there has not been a good man and will not be a holy heart or faithful soul from the beginning of the world to the end thereof that you will not see in heaven with God” (Zwingli, “Exposition of the Christian Faith,” chapter X).


Now, whatever the technical distinction between pluralism, inclusivism, and exclusivism, it becomes clear, as a practical matter, that exclusivism has exactly the same cash value as pluralism and inclusivism where Paul P.S.M.S. Owen is concerned.

So, when I get to heaven, I can expect to see Hercules on a pink cloud. I assume I’ll also see Zeus in heaven since Zeus was the father of Hercules. No doubt, from the oh-so gracious perspective of Paul P.S.M.S. Owen, Zeus is just another name for God the Father.

Also, as long as Perseus made it to heaven, it only seems fair that the Minotaur made it to heaven too. After all, the Minotaur, confined, as he was, to that dark and dingy labyrinth, could well be just another one of the “ elect persons who never receive an effective witness of the claims of Christ.”

But if Perseus, Hercules, and the Minotaur do receive eternal life, it is not out of God’s consideration of their response to, or through the activity of, the works which distinguish any religion other than Christianity. All other religions are soterically impotent.

And so that our Muslim brothers in the Lord are not disappointed by a prudishly Puritan afterlife, I assume that heaven will also be peopled by Bacchus, Venus, Helen of Troy, and the Three Graces.


  1. [From the editors of the book from which the Zwingli passage quoted in the post is taken:]

    "The real point is that Zwingli could make the assertion because it was congruent with his whole conception of the divine sovereinty and the election of grace. The redemptive purpose and activity of God was not limited by the chronology or the geography of the incarnation and the atonement. The decree of election upon which all salvation depends was a decree from all eternity, enclosing men of all generations within its embrace. Chronologically the patriarchs and pious Israelites preceded the coming of the Saviour, but this did not prevent their salvation by anticipatory faith. Similary the pious heathen might well be the recipients of divine grace and redemption even though they remained outside the temporal reach of the Gospel. They were not saved because of their piety, but because of the eternal activity of God in election and atonement. The temporality of the Redeemer's life and death did not set any limit to the possibilities of God's eternal grace. In outward form, no doubt, the assertion was determined by Zwingli's humanistic predilections, but its theological foundation was uncompromisingly Reformed."

    Zwingli and Bullinger (Library of Christian Classics) by G. W. Bromiley

  2. Um, so does that mean Zwingli believed what Paul Owen does??

  3. I posted the above comment perhaps looking for some of the patented sorting-out and getting at the underlying matter and showing just where Zwingli is out of biblical bounds, if he is in the passage quoted by Owen...that Hays is known for being able to do...

    I suspect there may be a difference between pre-Incarnation requirements regarding salvation and post-Incarcanation, but that may be a wrong thing to say, in many ways.

    Also, I suspect there may be room for debate in the area of Hays' position that God is making a statement regarding people's non-election when He puts them in times and places where they can't hear of Jesus Christ and the position that God's decree of election is not constrained by such temporal and physical limitations (etc., etc.)

    Owen probably would like to lasso Zwingli into the view that people who deny Jesus is God come in the flesh can still be saved (Muslims, Jews, for instance), and I think obviously Herr Zwingli is not saying that in that passage.

    But I'll gladly step aside and let the Triablogue crew sort it out.

  4. "only christians are granted an eternal life of truth."
    you can suck my left and right balls.

  5. keiness:

    Thanks for the rational argumentation. Oh, and that would be a lot easier if you weren't female.