10 Reasons Why the Doctrine of Inclusion is Not Good News

tenI love the gospel. It’s the best message I’ve ever heard. But to appreciate the positive, sometimes you have to highlight the negative. To help people understand the good news, sometimes you have to tell them what the good news is not. And inclusionism is not the good news.

If you’ve just joined us, inclusionism is the idea that all humanity rose and is now seated with Jesus. As I have explained elsewhere, this is not the gospel that Jesus revealed and Paul preached. Although grace is inclusive, inclusionism is not grace.

You may think I am opposed to inclusionism because it’s bad theology. That’s not why I am against it. I’m opposed to inclusionism because of the harm it does to people.

I recently heard from a man who got caught up in inclusionism. He said, “It ruined me and destroyed my faith.” When he couldn’t reconcile inclusionism with the words of Jesus, it filled him with anxiety and caused him to doubt God. This is what inclusionism does to people. Like every other -ism, it undermines faith by distorting the truth. This is just one reason why inclusionism is not good news. Here are ten more:

1. Inclusionism is complicated. It says everyone is saved but then says they’re not. It dismisses faith as a work but then says you have to believe. It contradicts the New Testament and draws on early church teachings you’ve never heard of. It puts question marks where Christ puts exclamation marks and turns a simple gospel into a big mystery. Inclusionism promotes elitism. It’s for smart people who read a lot. It’s not for ordinary folk who ask questions.

2. Inclusionism is unreal. It tells the lost, “You are saved, righteous, and seated with Christ in heavenly places.” I understand the motivation is to get the unbeliever to believe what is already true, but since (a) it’s not true and (b) the unbeliever knows it’s not true, this just sounds foolish. Show me one place in the Bible where Jesus or the apostles spoke like that? Paul never told unbelievers they were saved. Instead he challenged them to believe and be saved (Acts 16:31, Rom 10:9). So should we. I have met many thousands of people who have been saved through hearing the gospel. I’ve yet to meet one who got saved after being told they already were.

3. Inclusionism robs you of your freedom to choose. “Just as you had no say in Adam’s fall, you have no say in Christ’s redemption. Isn’t that good news?” No, as I explain elsewhere, it’s the most awful news ever. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Jesus said the Father is eager to give the Holy Spirit to all who ask him (Lk 11:13) but inclusionism says you don’t get to ask. “You were secretly filled with the Holy Spirit against your wishes.” So what was he doing inside you while you were walking in unbelief? Napping, I guess.

4. Inclusionism says you weren’t born again. “You never had a born again experience when you came to Christ. That’s a fiction barely mentioned in the Bible. Humanity was born again 2000 years ago.” So much for the miracle of new birth. Sure, not everyone has a Damascus Road conversion experience. But if you have seen what the supernatural grace of God does to a person, you will be acquainted with the power of salvation that Paul mentions in Romans 1:17. This power is not experienced by all, said Paul. Only “everyone who believes.”

5. Inclusionism preaches pretend salvations. “The believer is sealed and safe but the unbeliever, who was saved 2000 years ago, isn’t safe at all.” In other words, the unbeliever’s salvation is no salvation at all. He still needs to believe. So why tell him he’s safe when he isn’t? This is misleading and confusing. It sounds nothing like Jesus who is simple and clear: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9).

Kicked_out

6. Inclusionism requires you to add bits to the Bible. The Mirror Bible is a paraphrase that I sometimes quote on GraceQuotes, but it leans towards inclusionist thinking. There are passages in the Mirror that say humanity is righteous (see Rom 5:19), even though no such meaning is conveyed in the original text. More here.

7. Inclusionism requires you to remove bits of the Bible. It’s rare to find an inclusionist who has anything good to say about James and his epistle. Many don’t see James as an apostle of grace, but a misguided soul. “The book of James was put in the Bible to show us what a confused apostle looks like.” Uh-huh. Perhaps the real reason inclusionists dislike James is because he spoke of hell (as Jesus did) and warned sinners to turn to God (as Jesus did). “Since there are no such things as unsaved sinners,” says the inclusionist, “James must be wrong.” Time to cut up the Bible.

8. Inclusionism promotes passivity bordering on unbelief. “It’s not about your faith but the faith of Jesus. He took care of everything.” I agree that many Christians worry too much about their faith and I like the way inclusionists point us to the perfect faith of Jesus. But we part company when they say what we believe matters little. It matters much. If you don’t believe in the grace of God you’ll never benefit from it. If you’re not resting in Jesus’ finished work, you’ll be restless. The gospel-preachers of the New Testament actively encouraged people to trust in God – to ask, receive, lean on and rely. They understood that our beliefs, while subjective, have real and lasting consequences.  While inclusionism promotes a “meh” response, there are 200+ imperatives found in the New Testament. I list them all at the end of this note.

9. Inclusionism puts the brakes on the great commission. Inclusionism says, “Everyone is saved. Maybe they don’t know it but the job is done.” Yet Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, so go and preach the good news” (see Mk 16:15-16). The gospel Jesus revealed prompts a response. “Repent and believe.” Any response implied in the inclusionist message is lost in their confusing message. “You’re saved, but you still need to get saved.” Huh?

10. Inclusionism promotes insecurity. The inclusionist does not show the unbeliever the door into the kingdom because he thinks there isn’t one. “You’re already in!” However, there is a door leading out of the kingdom. “You were saved 2000 years ago, but you might not stay saved. You’re in until you’re out.” This is scary stuff. It’s not good news, and it’s completely contrary to the unshakeable promises of a gracious God.

In this series I have briefly highlighted the dangers of inclusionism. I’m done with it for now and in my next post I expect to get back to preaching the undiluted gospel of grace. Hooray!

Before we go, I want to thank the many hundreds of you who have indicated to me that this series has been helpful. Eighteen months ago when I started writing about inclusionism, the silence was deafening. Now many of you are alert to the dangers of this stuff and I’m encouraged. And my thanks to those who sent me testimonies and messages of support.

grace_vs_inclusionismIn these posts I have been brief. If you still have questions on inclusionism I encourage you to check out my detailed study notes. The links for these are below.


Relevant study notes:
The doctrine of inclusion: Why it appeals & misleads
Was humanity raised with Christ?
Last Adam’s greater work

76 Comments on 10 Reasons Why the Doctrine of Inclusion is Not Good News

  1. Once again, I cannot thank you enough.

  2. Thanks Paul for this great message. Honestly I have never known about this inclusionist stuff until some few months back. Then your recent post on this really brought out the light in this. I can now clearly distinguish grace from inclusionism. But watch out cos I just realized that among the free books you recommend, there’s one of them whose author is an inclusionist. Thanks greatly.

  3. Thanks paul for taking the time to explain both inclusionism and universalism. My dearest friends are Quakers and are either inclusionists or universalists. It’s so sad. They believe in good in everyone but not that Jesus is the way – grace through faith. I’ve shared Rom 10:9,10 only to see blanks on their faces. Are you familiar with Quakers? Help please. Lois

  4. I appreciate you careful thought and consideration into this idea. I’m still trying to understand it myself and in no way am I coming against your ideas – I’m just trying to process some thoughts here while I’m thinking about it. Maybe you can speak to some of these thoughts. Something I’m thinking of is what about our family? We were born of God – life carefully breathed into our nostrils in the beginning. We are of him – we wouldn’t have life without him. Jesus revealed God as our Father which means we are part of a family we forgot we were apart of. Forgetting led to guilt and shame and sin and all the rest. I dont even know if Adam and Eve referred to God as Father then? Even on this earth we did not have the choice of what family we would be born into – we just were placed where we were and there was no choice on our part there. Why do we think we have the right to choose what family we will belong to forever? its like if my daughter decided she wasnt part of our family anymore. she can think that all she wants but it wont change the fact that she truly is. If she believes she is part of our family – she will enjoy all the benefits of being a part of it. if she thinks she isn’t she will not enjoy the benefits – she will feel rejected even if she isn’t) We have the ministry of reconciliation through Christ. Jesus beautifully revealed the love and acceptance of our Father toward us when we were thinking we were slaves (Story of the Prodigal Son). The Bible says the earth and everything in it belongs to God. Our choice comes into play between our ears. Will we believe we are Sons of God or will we believe we are not. Will we believe we are beloved and live in joy and harmony or will we believe the lie that we don’t belong and live in a living hell? The truth is the truth – all humanity was created by God and made in his image and we belong to God. We forgot that when Adam and Eve chose to take the fruit of good and evil. Ever since then we judge ourselves and others based on whether we/they are good or evil. Jesus placed a big emphasis on believing correctly and be saved (from the futile thinking of not belonging.) I’m not saying I have all the answers here – I have a lot to learn but this is the first thing that came to mind. I think for me the confusion comes in the name “inclusionism”.

    • Adam is identified as a son of God (in Luke, I think) yet he never called God “Father.” The Biblical truth was that Adam was a son, but what good is that if you don’t know your father? Jesus called the Pharisees “sons of their father the devil.” Does that mean God loved them less? No. But they didn’t know God as a Father – despite Jesus telling them in the Sermon on the Mount – and their murderous conduct suggested a different pedigree.

      Inclusionism frames the issue as one of waking up and remembering. But the gospel frames it as receiving the Spirit of adoption – the Holy Spirit. Yes, I agree that the label inclusionism is confusing. (I would love to hear a better one.) Because grace is the most inclusive thing there is. God loves everyone. No one is excluded from his love except those who choose to be. But while grace is inclusive, inclusionism most definitely is not grace. There’s nothing gracious about being taken against your will, even if the ends are thought to justify the means.

      • “There’s nothing gracious about being taken against your will, even if the ends are thought to justify the means.”

        Amen! When I first heard about inclusionism/universalism it was being sold as true grace. Being taken against your will is not very gracious.

      • Hey Paul im so glad you spoke of this because this is where my former church went off the rails they even go so far as to say there is no hell and that its just a holding place and all will be save in the end. it’s nice to have some clarity on the matter. Thank you

    • Exactly Kristen. “Jesus beautifully revealed the love and acceptance of our Father toward us when we were thinking we were slaves (Story of the Prodigal Son).”

      The Father was still Father to the son who was wasting the inheritance, eating pig stew, and generally missing out on the great love that the Father had always had. He never ceased being his Father, the son was simply unaware (this is the key when it comes to ‘sin’) it is blinding more than anything…

      • If my daughter is running in front of a moving car, I’m going to jerk her out of the way of that vehicle whether she likes it or not. Repecting her “free will” in the situation is not only not loving, it’s murder.

  5. you know as i read this,I keep thinking of a comedy bit about a politicians answer to a question, they ask him a question and he answers [ THAT IS A VERY THOUGHTFUL AND PROVOCATIVE QUESTION, HOW EVER I DO BELIEVE I ANSWERED THAT LAST CAMPAIGN, THANK YOU, SEE YOU ELECTION DAY. I have come in contact with this theology, but have not had contact with people[church folk] who believe this way,except for having some universalist churches,unless im missing it we dont seem to have this problem in the states.judging from the responses you get,it must be big in your end of the world.

  6. Thank you, Paul, God bless you.

  7. Keep up the good work, Paul!

  8. Paul, I am thankful for you and the great series you provided on inclusionism. I think there are many who have read your posts who will be able to discern this error from the true gospel if it starts getting preached to them. I know it has helped me. Thanks for helping to prepare us!

  9. So I guess children/babies are in until they’re out (the fantasy of ‘age of accountability’). So they had better watch themselves.😉 they may just become ‘unsaved’…

  10. Debbie Winkelmann // September 27, 2013 at 4:47 am // Reply

    Thank you, thank you for taking a stand and speaking out! Your articles have been a real blessing and confirmation to us! 🙂

  11. Great series, Paul. Will you be making this into a book?

    • No. I really don’t like writing about this stuff. It’s a distraction and I’m glad to be done with this series. If you want a book you could stitch the relevant study notes together.

      • To be honest I am kinda glad you are done with this series. It may have been helpful to some, but these issues have been around 2000 years (and also for the next 2000 years) The endless debate and counter-debate often seems to sap, even just a little bit, of the souls deep contentment in the love of God in Christ as we ‘fight for truth’😉

        Be blessed Paul as you heart finds words from the great depths of the Gospel well. Even if all our speakings are as dimly lit candles, even the light they emit blinds most of our souls till we can scare comprehend the depth of grace.

  12. So much mystery around this subject and so much depends on your subjective perception of what “inclusion” means. I believe that God wants us to embrace the mystery and try our best not to put Him in a box🙂 For me, personally, the defining scripture on this matter is John 3:16… For God so loved the WORLD… that’s a fairly inclusive word right there😉 Praying that those who have been loved will receive the revelation of that love and confess (admit) it with their voices.

    • Yes, the gospel is inclusive – it’s good news for everyone. There are two possible errors we can make here: (1) If I’m wrong, then everybody’s saved and that’s a good thing. (2) But if inclusionism is wrong, then we will have to explain to Jesus why we changed his words, told the lost they were safe (when they’re not) and threatened those inside the kingdom – these are all bad things. As you can see, the inclusionist risks much for himself and others.

    • I also believe John 3:16 is a great verse to clarify this issue. God so loves the world that He gave us Jesus, so whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life. This shows us the gospel is inclusive, but not intrusive. Whoever wants to be included is included by accepting Jesus. It also shows us the gift is not just salvation, but the gift is Jesus. Every promise and blessing of God, including salvation, is in Jesus. When we accept Jesus we get it all. If we do not accept Jesus we’re bankrupt. It comes down to a relationship. God loves everyone, but it’s not a relationship until you accept His love. It’s simple, but it’s intimate – Will you accept Jesus?

      • I know this isn’t really related to the topic of inclusionism as such, but, for me, the confusion is mostly around what it means to ‘accept Jesus’. The more I think about it, the more confusing I find it as a phrase and I hate the temptation that it creates to think that I ‘know’ who has / hasn’t accepted Jesus based on whether a person calls him/herself a Christian, goes to church and / or talks a lot about Jesus.

      • Religion is man’s idea of the way things should be. The religious are going to judge people, but only God knows all things, so God is the only righteous judge. Whether or not someone has accepted Jesus is an intimate matter between them and Jesus. Only God can see the heart of a person to determine if they have accepted Jesus. Only God can determine what kind of opportunity a person was given in their lifetime to accept Jesus. And only you can choose if you accept or reject the love that is freely available to you in Jesus. 

        Blessings

      • I know this is an old post but I just wanted to say that this is the best response, hands down, to what real grace is. Well said.

  13. Thank you for the series, Paul. I appreciate the effort of you writing and sharing them and many others whom I share the Gospel with will surely benefit from it.

    Have a great weekend. And stop thinking about the regatta. Until the next race season. Now go out and run more. Ha ha ha.

    God bless.
    Yours truly | Clifford Nathan • 克里夫 • 纳丹

  14. Paul,

    While agree with you that inclusionism is not grace and is not good for the human spirit I feel that I should play the devils advocate, really bad term for this forum I know, and present a different view of the situation.

    If the atmosphere were to disappear, and all air with it, all life on this planet would die. Now if someone had a way to prevent that from occurring, and did so without any consent from any living entity on the planet, and for arguments sake knew he had to die to complete the task, would that person not be considered a Savior? Could anyone, knowing of the sacrifice or not, not have been saved from sure a death because of that one man’s sacrifice?

    How is this different that universal salivation of the soul?

    As I stated at the beginning I agree that Inclusionism, and even Universalism , should not be taught. But I believe this, not because it is the equivalent of God forcing himself on us, but because it denies man a great reason to start the search for God. While some will come to Him out of love, with fear never being part of the equation. For others, fear of God’s Judgement is the beginning of wisdom.

  15. What are you defining as inclusion? Universal salvation? What do you think of 1st Timothy 4:9-10. What do you think it is saying? I have no vested interest, just wondering.

    • My definition: “Jesus died not as one of us but as all of us and as a result everyone is as righteous and holy is he is. Everyone – whether they believe it or not – is included in Christ and is now saved and seated at the right hand of God.” More here and here. I love 1 Tim 4:9-10.

      • hucklejohn // November 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm //

        Paul, Thank you for your posts on this subject. This is a very important issue in my opinion. I have been listening to a teacher who is either an inclusionist or close to it. I would like to alter your definition to take it out of inclusionism in order to see if I am on the right track. I think the following is a true statement: “Jesus died not as one of us but as all of us and as a result everyone is as righteous and holy is he is. If any one will believe this truth for themselves then they are deemed included in Christ and are now saved and seated at the right hand of God.” The important point is that they believe. How am I doing? If I am in error where am I in error?

  16. My thoughts… In God’s word he says “I know the plans I have for you…” in another place He says “your faith is a gift…” If this is true, and you do not believe that Christ has died for everyone and everyone was born of God, with Jesus being the firstborn, then it means that even before I was in my mother’s womb God has decided if I am to believe in Him or not, in other words where I will end up (heaven or hell) and that He decided already if I will receive the gift of faith or not. The opposite – God knows the plans He has for me (to be reconciled with Him) and He bestows the gift of faith on me, thus I cannot judge anyone who doesn’t believe, I can only bring them the word of the good news, though hearing comes faith…

    I fell in love with God and His Son and His Spirit all over again when I realised that everyone is included in His sacrifice. What boundless love and ultimate gift. Not much different than the gift of life we received at birth – we didn’t decide then if we want it or not. Most of us will also agree that people that take their own (natural) life believed a lie, wouldn’t this be the same for someone who chooses not to accept the true (eternal) life Jesus proclaims? The only reason they wouldn’t want to accept it is because they believe a lie.

    Isn’t it wonderful that we are entangled like this in God’s mystery and each have personal encounters with God and grow and cannot be left unchanged! The renewal of the mind…

    Blessing to you all

  17. I really enjoyed what Bertie Brits has to say about 1 Tim 4:9-10. Jesus has provided all men salvation. But the last part of verse 10 says “especially of those who believe”. If all men are saved, there would have been a period after “who is the Savior of all men”. That statement would say (if your an inclusionist) something to this effect: Barak Obama is President of all Americans, especially to those voting Democrats. If the first part meant all men are saved, why is there a distinction on the believer?

    • “Barak Obama is President of all Americans, especially to those voting Democrats. If the first part meant all men are saved, why is there a distinction on the believer?”

      That is a very interesting view. Here’s how I see it play out. He is president. But because I am not democrat (or I simply disagree with his ideology) I will not change my ideology (repent) and adopt and or support his agenda or ideological viewpoint, even if it were personally or universally beneficial (because I have eyes to see but don’t see)

      Regards and thanks.

  18. I have a good example if you dont mind? I was recently in a discussion with whom I thought was a like minded believer in the Grace of Christ and his finished work. Instead they believed in Calvinism. Now Calvinism is called Calvinism for a reason. Because it has MANS ideas and ways which makes it a doctrine of works. I didnt recognize the fact they were Calvinistic by the title but by the way they were Preoccupied With Eradicating SIN. Sin was all the person talked about especially after I confronted them with a question about why were they not resting in the fact that if we think we have something to add to the Work of The Cross of Christ then he didnt do a good enough job the first time. I then pointed them to Hebrews 10 and so on but they still denied the fact of the finished work. The term Grace cannot be used if We still have To Do Something to PLEASE the Father. Trying or Works turns the Gospel into a ISM. Thanks for reading.

  19. I’ve never heard of anyone who believes in this Doctrine of Inclusion as you define it.

  20. Carlton Pearson is the first one I ever heard use the term ‘Inclusion’. Are his teachings what you argue against? If that is your definition then Inclusionism is not Universalism. (And Universalism is certainly not Unitarian Universalism.) I believe that “God is the savior of all men” and that “God will have all men to be saved”. Universalism claims that God is responsible for all of His creation.

    • I am not familiar with this person. I have written about ten posts on inclusionism. In about half of them I state that inclusionism is not universalism. My understanding of inclusionism and it’s central claims can be found here.

  21. I’d like to add to Dan Taylor’s comments on Universalism, which has gotten a bad name due to Unitarian Universalism and some confusing it with Inclusionism…

    • As I have said in most of my articles in this series, inclusionism is distinct from universalism (although there are universalist inclusionists). Some readers may be confused about particular variants of universalism, just as others are confused about inclusionism. But it doesn’t help if we change the subject in these discussion threads.

  22. Paul, your findings about Inclusion theology are, well, simply inaccurate. Let me qualify myself lol…I am a theologian and teacher, student of C Baxter Kruger as well and others. We are ‘trinitarian’ theologians, like Karl Barth, CS. Lewis and many others…part of trinitarian theology is inclusion theology. This talk about ‘your in till your out’ and’ your saved, get used to it’ are absolutely NOT inclusion theology (which is not an ‘ism’ lol). Simply put, inclusion theology believes that God reconciled the world…all humanity…past, present, and future, to himself through Christ, and this was the plan from before sin ever existed. He saw the failure, religions, and fall of every human, and they were strategically anticipated before creation. While there will certainly be those who still reject God even after death, all humanity (the kosmos in Greek) will eventually be in Papa’s loving arms. While it is certainly beneficial to respond to Holy Spirit’s calling that is placed in every heart, not all will, of course, but that was known to their Creator, and he won’t let even one of his children be lost. We are very well versed on what has been translated as ‘hell’. While there may be a place that some may spend some time in after death (those who continue to reject God), it is not eternal, and it is not torture. It may be uncomfortable, but it is rehabilitative and temporary, like all of the Father’s disciplines.

    • As I have said from the beginning, there are two types of inclusionist – those who say you’re saved until you’re not, and those who believe all will be saved. You seem to be the latter, which makes you a universalist. Am I mistaken?

      Incidentally, like CS Lewis, I don’t believe in hell as a place of eternal torment. This does not make me, or him, an inclusionist. I have read pretty much every thing CS Lewis wrote and I can’t see him saying anywhere that all have been saved and reconciled to Christ. However, on many occasions he does say things that contradict this view.

      As for your remark that my understanding of inclusionism is inaccurate, you can find me attaching sources to my claims here.

      • hucklejohn // January 15, 2014 at 9:06 am //

        Paul, I appreciate all your work and this discussion. You have said there are two types of inclusionist. One type is you’re saved until you are not. Another type is all will be saved (universalism). I believe there is a third type of inclusionism — Bible inclusionism. (Yes, I also hate the “ism” language.) The finished work of Jesus Christ accomplished everything to redeem all of mankind, including crucified, died, buried, made alive, risen, seated, etc. The only remaining element for salvation is for each individual to believe in their heart what God in Christ has already accomplished on their behalf. I Tim 4:10 (NKJV) “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” 2Co 5:19 (NKJV) “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” The Father has already reconciled us to Him. Now you and I can be reconciled to God by believing and thereby receive our salvation.

      • Hi Hucklejohn, thanks for your comment. I totally agree with the second part of your comment but have a question about the first part. This is not to provoke, but to clarify. Do you believe that those who are hostile to Jesus are presently seated at the right hand of God? How will they respond when you tell them this good news?

      • hucklejohn // January 15, 2014 at 7:38 pm //

        Paul, let’s set aside for the moment our discussions with unbelievers. Let’s also set aside for the moment what it means to be seated with Him in the “heavenly places.” (Eph 2:6) Let’s even set aside for the time being what it means to be seated at the right hand of God (even though I realize most would say this is obvious). (Col 3:1) How and when were you & I seated? Note all the scriptures on crucified with Him, died with Him, buried with Him, quickened with Him, raised with Him along with seated with Him. Did these things occur the moment you & I made a decision for Christ? Did an angel grab our spirits & take them to be seated when we made a decision? Did the Father just speak the word & instantly we were seated? Was it some other time? By some other means? I must conclude in the absence of other information that you & I were crucified, etc., and became seated with Him 2000 years ago along with the whole human race all at the same time. So from God’s point of view all humanity has already been reconciled. Does this mean all humanity has been saved? No. Each individual must choose to respond to this finished work of Christ by believing and receiving the reconciliation. Only then can we consider someone saved. Sadly many, perhaps most, will reject God’s offer of reconciliation before they pass from this world.

      • So you don’t believe in the miracle of new birth, except perhaps one that happened en masse long before we were born?

        I can’t even begin to explain the mysticalness of our union with Christ – nobody can – but it seems to me that God could do it any time he wants. By why would he join someone to Christ if that person didn’t want to be joined? I would further say that the idea that someone could not be One with the Lord but in the future could be eternally cast aside, is contrary to the great and many promises God has given us about our eternal security. Our union with Christ is connate, inseparable, inviolate.

        I see what you’re saying – I really do. It’s what every inclusionist says. And that’s fine. I just don’t see it either in scripture or real life.

      • hucklejohn // January 16, 2014 at 4:44 am //

        Thanks, Paul, for your response. I remain open to changing my views. Maybe I am wrong. I believe in the miracle of the new birth. In truth I don’t know exactly how anyone gets saved. It seems impossible. I remain stuck on the idea that unbelievers respond to what God has already done, especially given verses like John 1:29. II Cor 5:19 and I John 2:2. I understand your view is as follows: One moment before one makes a decision for Christ an unbeliever is totally separated from God and in a split second of a decision for Christ all of the works of Christ – righteousness by faith, crucified, died, buried, quickened, raised, seated – are miraculously imputed to the new believer. Correct?

      • Yes, salvation is miraculous and mysterious. I have seem people go from haters to lovers and they literally become new people. It’s a wondrous thing.

        I know the sinner’s prayer is often mocked, but I think that initial change of heart is a sacred thing. It is life-changing in the way a marriage ceremony is life-changing. Before you say the words “I do” you are a single man. Then you say them and become a married man and nothing is ever the same.

        For me, a key thing is what happened to the disciples. They were timid and shy when Jesus died and they remained timid and shy after Jesus rose. The resurrection surely made them happy but it didn’t make them new. It wasn’t until they received the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 that everything changed. The Holy Spirit is the key to this mystery.

  23. The person I know who died on the cross for the world is JESUS CHRIST, not me or any other person who was or is in the world.I belived this fact and got saved.INCLUSIONISM is as ugly as Socalism.

  24. A price has been paid for fellowship,we have to accept that price, we did and could not pay the price.it is a free gift to us ,but we still have to accept the price.we have to die.to say that you have fellowship without accepting the price however well dressed , and appealing to our sense of justice this sounds, it is nothing less than a denial of the price.you were purchased into irreversable sonship by your acceptance of the price.to try and pay yourself is the same it is a denial of the price.

  25. First, a scripture to get us started: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22 (NIV). As indicated above, the fall of Adam dealt death to himself and all his offspring. In other words, when Adam sinned his deathly state of being was imprinted upon every soul that would ever be born afterwards (including you and me). One might liken it to ‘dead men walking.’ But, good news! The second Adam (Christ) came to save fallen humanity from death — from ourselves. This he did by vicariously dying for ALL of sinful humanity on the cross, thus satisfying the death issues once and for all.

    Physical death was only part of Adam’s fallen condition. Unless God intervened his/our death would have meant perpetual physical death of Adam and his posterity with no hope of eternal life. Yet, even though the cross took care of the old fallen nature in us, there still remained something to be done to generate eternal life. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “You MUST be born again!” What does it mean to be born again? Simply stated, if our old Adamic fleshly selves were crucified with Christ, therefore, we (humanity) must have a brand new start, i.e., new birth. So when Christ arose from his tomb/womb, we rose up with and in him. Read all about it and rejoice: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his mercy HAS CAUSED US TO BE BORN AGAIN to a living hope THROUGH THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST FROM THE DEAD…” (1 PETER 1:3).That’s right; the resurrection of Christ was the catalyst of our new spiritual birth. It happened 2,000 years ago – IN CHRIST and for ALL humanity.

  26. Thank you Ivan , sounds like you take God seriously when he says something.

  27. Is inclusionism the same as universal atonement?

  28. Marcel van de Warenburg // February 3, 2014 at 10:16 am // Reply

    Free will decisive for salvation? The odd thing is that nobody chooses by free will to be born into a state of needing salvation. We are put into this world and now we are responsible to accept salvation? Something does not add up here.

    • Absolutely. Because of the cross, no one is going down on account of Adam’s sin. Here’s something I just read from DL Moody:

      Some men complain and say that it is very unreasonable that they should be held responsible for the sin of a man 6000 years ago. It’s was not long ago that a man was talking to me about this injustice, as he called it. If a man thinks he is going to answer God in that way, I tell you it will not do him any good. If you’re lost, it will not be on account of Adam’s sin.

    • You are right it seems not add up, but you will be condemned by Adams sin , if you do not choose the free gift of righteousness by the tree of life and choose to be like God by your works then you will stay in your state of death or dying , all men are dying but some have found life.Is it unreasonable that I should have to go through what I have to so that the next person that finds life has the opportunity to do so ? If you are lost it will not be as a result of Adams sin ,but if you are dead it is a direct result of Adams bad choice. Nothing has changed you could say that you are Adam and still have the same choice.

    • The tree of life was part of you from the beginning, you were made from the same dust that it lived in, and still does , the way to it has been protected and is now freely available to the new creation.

  29. Grace Seeker // March 14, 2014 at 11:37 am // Reply

    Hey Paul,

    Just wanted to provide some quick insight of the inclusionist message that might be helpful. I’ll only address a few points (Numbered according to your numbers).

    3. In a sense this is true, but not how you perceive it. Jesus didn’t make us who we didn’t want to be, he showed us who we truly are. Like the lost coin, that even though it was lost, still retained its value. When it’s found, to raise objections such as “It didn’t choose to be a coin, it didn’t choose to have $X value, it didn’t choose to be lost, it didn’t choose to be found” is kind of beside the point . . . it is what it is because thats how it was created.

    9. I can testify personally, this is untrue. I stopped witnessing to people because I was tired of trying to “Bring them to faith” through what I said, only to never have it happen. When I understood the Inclusions message, I couldn’t stop talking about Jesus to people I was embarassed with before! I believe this is because your grace message (I mean no insult by that wording) is only good news for those that have faith. The inclusion message is good news for everyone, not only after they believe (Cart before the horse here). I also feel this is the EXACT same comment that non-grace people make when they say the grace message just causes people to sin more. Those who believe it know how untrue it is!

    10. For me this is absolutely false and flip-flopped with your message. This is the ONLY message that provides security for me. It is here where I most clearly see a theme in your views that I feel is the way you misunderstand the inclusion message. You view “Being Saved” as being “In or Out”. That makes no sense in the inclusionist message . . . Out where or out of what exactly? Out of Gods presence? Impossible. Nothing created exists outside of Jesus, so in this sense we are all “In Jesus”, but that is not to say that it is all bliss and joy for everyone . . . it is hell for some.

    • I can understand why you grew tired of bring sinners “to the faith” because this is not what the gospel teaches. We’re supposed to bring people to Jesus. His invitation is “Come to me.” The gospel is not about having faith or producing faith or anything like that. The gospel is about revealing Jesus. In my experience, when the poor and needy see Jesus, faith happens! Jesus is Beautiful with a capital B. He is attractive. He draws people to himself. The gospel of reconciliation is “God holds nothing against you. Come home! Be reconciled!”

      Regarding the security issue (#10): A famous inclusionist writes “You’re in until you’re out.” Yet Jesus said, “You’re out until you’re in and when you’re in you’ll never be out” (or words to that effect; see John 10:9, 29). You say the inclusionist message provides you with security. With respect, only Jesus can give us the security we need. Jesus says, “He who comes to me I will never turn away” (John 6:37).

      • Grace Seeker // March 16, 2014 at 11:32 am //

        I do not understand what you think then that they see about Jesus? According to the best sense I can make of your idea of the Gospel is they cannot see themselves forgiven, reconciled, that he died for them, that they died with him, that he is their savior, because all of that is conditioned on faith and technically untrue until they have faith. God does indeed hold something against them, there lack of faith, because until they have faith he witholds from them. How can believe in Jesus as my savior if he is not my savior until I believe he is my savior? How can I believe Jesus died for me, if he didn’t die for me until I believe he died for me? This is the cart before the horse! I hear people all the time give alter calls saying that “Jesus died for your sins / he forgives you” which, unless you’re inclusionist, is simply untrue. Some people simply say “Believe in Jesus”, but this is incredibly general, and for someone like me, find no security in it. Believe what? How much? How accurately? Etc. If salvation is based on my faith or belief, I am as sunk and insecure as if it was based on the 10 commandments.

        In regards to you last paragraph, I appreciate that you don’t use names, but it does make it hard to discuss. If anything, you are simply showing the many flavors of inclusionism. I do not believe this, neither do those that I have read . . . primarily because I do not know what you (or this person) means by In and Out (Of what/where?).

      • You’ve lost me.

      • What if it’s not about YOUR belief. “Eternal life is to KNOW Him and the Father”. Once you know Him you don’t even have to believe, you just know. God is all about relationship and intimacy, God knows us. Even “believing in” suggests distance and separation. “Knowing” suggests intimacy and union. Jn 14:20 “And in that day [now] you will KNOW that I am in the Father and you in Me and I in you” – You can’t have it better than that.
        It’s not knowing about God or knowing the Word or getting saved (effort, works and performance) “I have come that they might have LIFE…” He didn’t say “getting saved” and once you have LIFE you know… oh God how you know!
        Get a LIFE! (just half-joking)
        Be blessed!

      • Grace Seeker // March 18, 2014 at 10:05 am //

        Haha, kinda wordy, I know. I’ll try to see if I can make it a little clearer.

        If Inclusion is not true, and all of humanity was not represented in in the death and resurrection of Jesus, how do you not just end up with something close to the Calvinistic idea of limited atonement? I feel like your Gospel is like telling someone to “Believe there is a million dollars in front of you and then it will appear.” Well, you can’t believe in something that is untrue, and is only true after you believe it. In the same way, it is not true that Christ died for an unbeliever, if they’re only included in his death/resurrection after they believe. So then, it seems like the work of Christ cannot technically be said to be for an unbeliever, and therefore cannot be apart of the Gospel Message. So then, what is left of the Gospel for the unbeliever to have faith in? However, if all of humanity WAS included in the death/resurrection of Jesus, only then can someone repent and have faith in Jesus. It must be true FIRST so you can have faith in it, rather then having faith and THEN its true.

        About 3.5 months ago, I read from an author, a similar statement as the one in my last comment. He was arguing that it was the “Faith Of Christ” that saves us and not “Faith In Christ” (Which you constantly see in the NIV). I remember I got so mad, I cussed, called it nonsense and threw the book across the room. 🙂 When I realized what he was saying it hit me like a ton of bricks.

      • You have clearly misread me if you think this. I think you have also misread inclusionism. The gospel declares, as you do, that Jesus is our representative or High Priest. In contrast, inclusionism maintains that Jesus died as humanity, meaning, all of us were in him when he died, rose, and ascended.

        Your feelings about my gospel are based on misperceptions. I have always said the gospel is true whether you believe it or not.

    • Hi Grace Seeker, I just wanted to share a thought about what you said. Timelines don’t work in eternity because there is no time. The work of the cross is eternal. As you know, that’s how all of our sin – past, present, and future – is forgiven. It’s also how we can say we were in Christ when He died even though we accepted Him later in time. We are included in Jesus’ sacrifice when we accept Him into our heart. Blessings

  30. Gospel – “For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell; and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens.” Col. 1:19-20.”
    Inclusionism – “God fails to reconcile some (those who reject Him) of creation.”
    Traditional Infernalism – “God fails to reconcile some (possibly most) of creation.”
    Universalism – “God is in Jesus reconciling all of creation to Himself and will fully accomplish His good pleasure.”

  31. JacobManley // August 24, 2015 at 5:30 pm // Reply

    Ephesians 1:13

    In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who[b] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

    It seems to indicate a necessity for belief. The spirit is the seal of our inheritance when we believe.

  32. I unfortunately am one who attends a church that focuses on inclusionism. Sadly I have experienced the confusion of this doctrine. Every point of your 10 points, I have experienced. My biggest concerns are the children that are in our church. The tendency is to focus on certain verses that support the definition as you stated it and avoid other verses that go against it. I am praying for my church and I tell people that there are problems. Thanks for this information.

    • if you were to ask my opinion, I would strongly advise you to get out of that church. Feeding on error is detrimental to spiritual growth. I would love and pray for them to receive the truth and reject error from a safe distance. Grace to you in whatever you do…

  33. I know this is an old post, but it is still relevant to me. I trust your opinion and insight, but so much of what I read about, what I have now learned is called ‘inclusionism” , resonates deeply within me. I guess I don’t have clarity one way or the other yet, but it is almost as if I would like to be convinced that it is what the ‘good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people’ is. I read Galations 1 this morning where Paul describes his conversion and to me it looks like what he said is ‘Christ was in me but I could not see it’. Gal 1:15 But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me, so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone. I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me clarity on this. Thank you for discussing different opinions and being frank about what you believe without being nasty or sarcastic about other people and where they are in their journey. These days it is rare to find.

    • Thanks for your comment. You may be interested in the other posts in this series and the discussion that follows each of them. You can find them in the Archives > Subject Index. Be blessed.

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