How things have changed in a decade! About ten years ago, theologians Clark Pinnock and John Sanders shook up evangelical theology with two books that together offered a defense of what is now widely known as "inclusivism." Christian inclusivism is the view that the work of Jesus Christ is the foundation for salvation, but that people do not have to know about it to benefit from it. Therefore, many of the unevangelized will yet be saved because they have put their trust in God, as far as they know him, and are accepted by faith on the basis of the work of Christ.

Pinnock's and Sanders's arguments have by no means swept the field; indeed, they have been widely cited as evidence of dangerous theological drift within the evangelical movement. But neither has the case for inclusivism been decisively refuted. Indeed, two recent books show just how far the discussion has advanced in a decade. Taken together, they suggest that evangelicals have only begun to explore the implications for all of theology in taking seriously the reality of the world's religions. But these two books also highlight, in their different ways, something of the challenge and the danger of such exploration.

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September 3, 2001

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