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Clark Pinnock. An “Inclusivist” Evangelical Theology of Religions Wideness in God’s Mercy. Introduction to Pinnock. “Evangelical Revisionist” A Wideness in God’s Mercy: The Finality of Jesus Christ in a World of Religions (1992) Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit (1996), ch. VII .

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Clark Pinnock

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clark pinnock

Clark Pinnock

An “Inclusivist” Evangelical Theology of Religions

Wideness in God’s Mercy

introduction to pinnock
Introduction to Pinnock
  • “Evangelical Revisionist”
  • A Wideness in God’s Mercy: The Finality of Jesus Christ in a World of Religions (1992)
  • Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit (1996), ch. VII
1 foundational affirmations and orientations
1. Foundational Affirmations and Orientations
  • Avoiding relativism and restrictivism; a middle way
    • one is to say dogmatically that all will be saved; and the other is to say that only a few will be saved
      • Evangelicals should try and find a middle way
  • Optimism of salvation and the uniqueness of Christ
    • finding a balance within this dynamic
  • Negotiation between Universality (God’s love for all) and Particularity (reconciliation of sinners through Jesus’ mediation)
1 foundational affirmations
1. Foundational Affirmations…
  • The potential and limits of religions
    • Traditionally: religions are sin or useless
    • Liberals: it is all about religiosity
    • Pinnock: middle way
      • the Gospel cannot be preached to the nations apart from religions; God uses religions to his own purposes
        • So religions do not have to be obstacles but often it is in religious structures people receive the gospel
foundational affirmations
Foundational affirmations…
  • The faith principle: according to the Bible, people are not saved by the content of their theology but by faith (cf. OT saints)
    • Some know nothing and are saved
    • Others know much and are not saved
    • Matter of how you lived out your belief
      • Matt. 25.40, matter of how you lived out your belief
      • Acts 10.34-35, no mention here of what you have to know but if you are turning and turned towards Christ
  • The urgency and importance of mission
2 theological perspectives
2. Theological Perspectives
  • 2.1. Scripture and Revelation
  • 2.2. Doctrine of God
  • 2.3. Spirit in the World
  • 2.4. Final Destiny
2 1 scripture and revelation
2.1. Scripture and Revelation

God’s self-revelation, a revelation of person; dynamic view, development

Revelation is not only the matter of the past, God still speaks

“continuing revelation”

God’s revelation is for the whole world, not only for the “elect”;

the one for the many

The Spirit is “guiding, luring, wooing, influencing, drawing all humanity, not just the church”

scripture revelation cont
Scripture & Revelation Cont.
  • Christians as hearers of the word:
    • the issue is the appropriation of God’s word: to hear God’s word in a fresh way in ever-new situations and contexts; not repeating tradition but seeing things in a new light
  • “Continuing Revelation”: The Spirit has been guiding Christian understanding toward a sounder grasp of truth.
    • These developments do not necessarily indicate past corruption, but represent an ever clearer comprehension of a revelation that is unsurpassable

“Revelation is neither contentless experience (liberalism) nor timeless propositions (conservativism). It is the dynamic self-disclosure of God, who makes his goodness known in the history of salvation, in the process of disclosure culminating in Jesus Christ. Revelation is not primarily existential impact or infallible truths but divine self-revelation that both impacts and instructs. The mode of revelation is self-disclosure and interpersonal communication. As such it is pregnant with significance and possible development.”

  • “Past inspiration secures Scripture, and present inspiration empowers readers.”
2 2 doctrine of god open theism
2.2. Doctrine of God: “Open Theism”
  • Traditional view: God’s sovereignty, majesty, and glory in the forefront; God as the final explanation of everything that occurs; God’s will irresistible
    • while God is infinitely good, he is equally glorified by the destruction of the wicked
    • God as totally perfect: no change, since change would imply either becoming better or worse
2 2 open theism
2.2. “Open Theism”
  • God as loving, caring, feeling parent, who experiences the world, interacts with his children
    • love rather than majesty is the main attribute
  • God does not know antecedently everything humans will do: his knowledge is dynamic rather than static; God comes to know what occurs as it happens (i.e., God knows what can be known)
  • God’s experience of the world is open rather than closed;
  • this does not mean imperfection in God; rather, he knows infallibly the past and the present and all there is to know about the future (but not all future has yet happened)
2 2 unbounded generosity
2.2. “Unbounded Generosity”
  • God as “Unbounded Generosity”
  • The optimism of salvation
  • Election and Hermeneutic of hopefulness
    • the doctrine of election refers to the election of the community with the focus on salvation rather than judgment.
    • The role of “pagan saints” in the Bible, those from outside the elected community, yet included.
    • Election more about salvation than damning to hell
      • Ephesians 1; Romans 8.29 – predestination refers to salvation; not damnation
2 3 spirit in the world
2.3. Spirit in the World
  • “Counting against restrictivism is not only God’s nature as Father and the universality of the atonement of Christ, but also the ever-present Spirit, who can foster transforming friendships with God anywhere and everywhere.”
  • The “cosmic range of the operations of the Spirit.”
    • the emphasis on the Spirit’s work in salvation should not be read as a denial of the creative work on which it is based, as too often has been the case
2 3 spirit in the world1
2.3. Spirit in the World…
  • If the Spirit gives life to creation and offers grace to every creature, one would expect him to be present and make himself felt (at least occasionally) in the religious dimension of cultural life.
  • Spirit works ceaselessly to persuade human beings to trust and open themselves up to love.
2 3 spirit in the world2
2.3. Spirit in the World
  • Whereas the incarnation of the Son was confined to a specific place in time and history, its universal effects, through the ministry of the Spirit, can be transmitted to the farthest ends of the earth
2 4 final destiny conditional immortality annihilationism
2.4. Final Destiny: Conditional Immortality (Annihilationism)
  • Believers will gain immortality, but unbelievers will be annihilated
  • Not all will be saved (=universalism), but no one will be sent to hell eternally (there may be hell but only for the time being)
5 assessment 5 1 contributions
5. Assessment5.1. Contributions
  • Challenge to Evangelical theology
  • The hermeneutic of hopefulness
  • The role of the Spirit
  • The value of creation
  • Reassessment of the value of religions
  • Ecumenical openness
5 2 challenges and problems
5.2. Challenges and Problems
  • Caricaturing exclusivism
  • Selective Bible reading
  • Too soft on the problems in religions
  • Ignoring foundational differences between religions
  • What does one’s “no” mean to God/ the meaning of sin
  • Oversimplification of terms of “universal” and “particular”
    • Christ represents both particularity and universality (Col. 1;John 1;Heb. 1)
    • Spirit represents both universality and particularity (the Spirit of Christ, not a “universal” Spirit of religions)