Inclusionism – What Harm Is It?

danger_inclusionismWhen I wrote about the dangers of inclusionism two years ago, few people cared. When I wrote again last year, everybody did. In this high-speed world, much can change in a short time.

You probably know by now that inclusionism teaches that everyone – whether they believe it or not – was included in Christ’s resurrection and ascension and is now saved and seated at the right hand of God. In union with Christ, humanity is as righteous and holy as he is.

As I have explained elsewhere, inclusionism complicates the gospel and draws on early church teachings you may not have heard of. It parrots the language of grace but is ultimately an ungracious form of Frankengrace.

Needless to say, those who espouse inclusionism have not responded to my writings with grace!

Last year I listed some of the ways inclusionism contradicts the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. That post attracted all sorts of responses, the vast majority of which were positive. However, some complained that I was misrepresenting inclusionism. Apparently I am misguided and ill-informed. This accusation is understandable since I am not in the habit of citing my sources. But in this post I do and once should be enough.

Others assumed that since I am against inclusion, I must be for exclusionism – whatever that is. But this is a false dichotomy that does nothing to promote dialogue. It’s angry Anakin swinging his lightsaber and saying, “If you’re not with me, you must be against me.”

Others have countered by setting up straw-men. “Why do you wish to condemn people to eternity in hell?” Who said anything about hell?

Still others have said these are frivolous debates and one day we’ll look back and laugh. I sincerely hope we do! But no one is laughing now and that’s because inclusionism is a bruising and divisive issue. We’re not debating semantics. We’re talking about something that has fractured friendships and split churches.

Inclusionism bears bad fruit because it is a bad tree. It was born from the seed of human understanding and fertilized with manure of manmade reasoning. It appeals to the intellect but deprives the soul of heaven’s peaceable wisdom. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: inclusionism differs from the gospel Jesus revealed and the apostles taught. You literally have to rewrite the Bible to find support for it.

You may be wondering, “Why all the fuss? Isn’t this just a bunch of theologians with too much time on their hands?” These are fair questions that deserve good answers. So let me list three ways that inclusionism hurts people.

1. Inclusionism distorts the love of God

The gospel of grace portrays a divine love that is unconditional and free – a love that seeks to woo and win even those who reject it. But inclusionism portrays a “love” that takes the unwilling by force. This is a central theme of the inclusionist message: “Since first Adam took you against your will, Last Adam had to do the same.” This is a horrendous distortion of the love of God.

The Jesus of the New Testament is described as a King wooing his bride (Mt 22:2, 25:1). He is the Beauty that saves the world; the One who, in his own words, draws all to himself (John 12:32). But the Jesus of inclusionism is a thief who takes what has not been given and then expects you to like it.

The gospel imperative is, “Come to Jesus.” This imperative is repeated in one form or another more than 200 times in the New Testament. (A full list can be found in the appendix of this note.) However, the imperative that follows inclusionism is “Jesus married you against your will – better get used to it.”

This twisted picture of Christ’s love is unreal and unbiblical. It is a deterrent to the freely-chosen intimacy that Jesus desires to have with all of us.

2. Inclusionism damages hope

Jesus says, “Those who come to me I never cast away” (John 6:37). That’s a fact you can bank on. In contrast, inclusionism says you were born in union with Christ but you could end up severed and cut off. Of course it doesn’t say this in so many words. Instead it dances around the issue by describing a confusing mix of overlapping realities. This confusion promotes doubt and insecurity. Ask a direct question like, “Am I safe?” and you’ll get three different answers: Yes, no, and maybe.

Jesus said what God has joined together no man can separate, but inclusionism disagrees. Jesus said God doesn’t believe in divorce, but inclusionism suggests he does. Paul spoke of the hope of a gospel that is backed by the unshakable promises of God (Col 1:23), but inclusionism deals in the uncertainties of human experience. Fail to wake up to the objective reality of your union with Christ and your subjective reality will create a new objective reality – one where you were in but now you’re out.

3. Inclusionism diminishes faith

The gospel of grace says that because of Jesus, we all get the same choice Adam had – the choice to trust God or trust self. But inclusionism says you have no choice except to accept that which was done on your behalf. Adam was invited into a relationship based on trust but you are not. According to inclusionism, your union with Christ is a fait accompli. This damages faith two ways:

First, it suggests that God makes mistakes. God made a mistake giving Adam freedom to choose, but he’s learned his lesson and won’t repeat that mistake with you. Problem is, a God who makes mistakes can’t be trusted. Nor can you trust his Word. The Bible says God gives grace to the humble (1 Pet 5:5), but inclusionism says he has forced his grace upon us all. Since faith is a positive response to what God has said, any message that contradicts what God has said will undermine faith.

Second, inclusionism suggests you can’t be trusted either. A dark theme sometimes heard in inclusionist circles is that the Father’s plan was too big and important to be left to the choices of mankind. In other words, God doesn’t redeem us, he overrides us, like a heavenly fascist. Some have even gone as far to say that “free will is an illusion.” This is a dehumanizing doctrine of demons that reduces God’s beloved children to untrustworthy pawns in a cosmic chess game.

A better narrative is the one the gospel offers – the one where God gave Adam the freedom to choose knowing full well that it would ultimately cost him his life. God did this to show us that true love is free. And he did it to show us that he’d rather die than live without us.

The gospel declares that God believes in you. It’s his love and his faith that prompt the response of love and faith from our side (1 Jn 4:19). Faith isn’t something you have to manufacture. Faith is a rest. It’s ceasing from the hard work of resisting his radical and hyper-grace. Faith is being persuaded that God is good and that he loves you as you are and not as you should be.

Included_when

In his writings the apostle Paul repeatedly identified three cords that connect earthly man with his heavenly Father, namely, faith, hope and love (1 Cor 13:13, 1 Th 1:3, 5:8). It is by faith in the hope of Jesus that we experience his love here and now.

Since inclusionism is a worldly philosophy, its effect is to sever these heavenly links. It does this by presenting a distorted view of love and a brittle hope that inevitably lead to a diminished and fruitless faith.

I suggest you have nothing to do with it.

[What do you think? Have you encountered inclusionism? How has this teaching affected you or your relationships within the Body of Christ?]

83 Comments on Inclusionism – What Harm Is It?

  1. Excellent, thanks Paul.

  2. Susanne Spindler // July 16, 2014 at 2:43 pm //

    I did encounter a website while following a thread about you. This website was “Christian Universalism” (I think) and they were commenting on one of your posts (sorry, don’t remember which one) and they went on to propose their belief that everybody was saved because “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord….” among other scriptures. They then go on to list ministries that they conclude support their ideas. Everything in me (Holy Spirit) said NO! so I left there & shook the dust off.

    • I’m glad the universalists are promoting this website.🙂 And I’m glad you found us.

    • Deb Kean // July 16, 2014 at 4:24 pm //

      Hi Paul (and Suzanne) – I have been a Christian Universalist for some years now… I really don’t get why you say some of the things that you say about Universalism, Paul, that it creates insecurity…

      • Thanks for your comment, Deb, but I’m going to restrict comments on this thread to the discussion of inclusionism. I appreciate that some universalists are identify themselves as inclusionist but many inclusionists get quite upset when they are mistaken for universalists. (The difference? Inclusionists say “all were saved”; universalists say “all will be saved.”) They have enough grief already and I have no wish to add to it.

        BTW, you mentioned hell. You may be interested in this post or this post.

      • Deb Kean // July 16, 2014 at 5:04 pm //

        Thank you Paul, I appreciate your reasons and have realised from reading more, that I am not an Inclusionist!🙂
        Deb

  3. Dang Paul, I think you hyper-linked just about every old article you ever wrote in this one post😉 Very thankful for your bold voice to call a spade a spade and to help us flesh this “inclusionism” heresy out and to see it for what it really is. When I was awaked to God’s grace and His goodness not too many years ago I started hearing the calls of inclusionism come beckoning and didn’t really know what to do with it, cuz as you say it was masked in false promises and grace-ness. For me, as you said, it comes down to the fact that for Inclusionism to be true one would have to rewrite the Bible or simply discount it altogether.
    Surprising and sad how many have been willing to do that.

    Cheers brother!

    • Yes Michael, I did hyper-link just about every old article. They were like loose threads that needed to be pulled together into a single strand, and now they are. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Paul White // July 16, 2014 at 3:46 pm //

    Paul, well said, as always.

  5. I was debating with a staunch Calvinist recently and remembering some of your nuggets from your books and writings (which are so illuminating). The topic moved towards the issue of grace. The accusation against grace was that it was inclusion. This is so very helpful in articulating why grace and inclusion are not the same. Thank you!

  6. Paul, honestly, I think you are just too good to miss so badly. You must be having a bad day…

  7. Some great points in this post, Thanks.

  8. Jerry Nendel // July 16, 2014 at 4:22 pm //

    I have been thinking a lot about this lately and saw how John said in his epistle that it is the testifying to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God and the Christ, that evidence is given that the Spirit of truth is in us. The inclusionists want to say Jesus is in everyone, even if they don’t confess the Truth. And the inclusionists proclaim a Christ that is more like the New Age cosmic Christ, not the Jesus who bled and died for our sins ‘according to the Scriptures’.. They make the incarnation the foundation rather than the cross. I cannot say I am absolutely right about this, but when John said this is He who came by water and blood, he was referring to the fact that the Jesus we identify as the Christ is the one who bled and died, not just the one who identified with all humanity at His water baptism. He died for the whole world but only those who believe submit to being buried. The meaning of baptism was forever changed after Jesus died. It is at the cross that our union takes place when we believe.

  9. It is the same lie and deception, distorting the word of God. You shall surely not die.

    • ya man,I forgot about the “you shall not surely die.” good call Chris.

    • I love how it does not require a doctorate in theology to go back to the beginning and see what God really said. He did not make things so complicated that we cannot find the answer without writing a thesis. It’s simple, Holy Ghost genius. Thanks Chris

    • tentmaker // July 17, 2014 at 8:40 am //

      I don’t know any inclusionist, universalist, restorationist or whatever who says “you shall not surely die.” They all believe in adam ALLLLL died. But they also believe the same all consigned to death in Adam will be made alive in Christ. 1 Cor. 15:22. It’s the Orthodox, traditionalist, fundamentalist, Evangelical, Catholic who believes “you shall not die.” They believe most of mankind will be burned ALIVE forever and ever. Now THAT is a “you shall not surely die” doctrine if I ever saw one. Paul, Earl and company, have a great day! Rejoice, for your enemies are waiting for you in Christ’s love. “Love your enemies” now for they are waiting for you on the other side with open arms.

      • You answer your own dilemma, yes all died in Adam, man does not require a revelation to see that he has always had eternal life, all died in adam, man requires a new birth into life not death.By a virgin not mans will.I have no questions left, God is who he says he is, the way is the way.It is not my place to judge the way. You by what you believe try to escape judging by another route, you have just made yourself the ultimate judge, you judge all as deserving life, and you judge the way And yes you may be right in all you say, I may be wrong.But I reserve judgment for God. His way can be the only way.It would be great in my view and serve my sense of justice if you were right, but my view is limited, and I leave justice to God. His view is without fault. If hell exists no one will be there who does not fit the punishment, if l were to end up there I am sure I would in the light of who I was not argue. But you see the good news is it is not about me Adam was the only son of God before Jesus, and because of Jesus I am also a son of God, no longer a son of man.Again yes all died in Adam dead dead dead. Jesus is the ressurection and the life, and like he said to Martha not future but now for all that believe.He was not a cruel and vindictive man saying let the dead bury their own dead.But a loving father offering life. The offer for eternity. I have said this to you leaders, if someone who has found faith in Jesus by this witness would respond I would again consider revisiting your belief, but then again you may just argue that faith in Jesus is not required all are saved by him.

  10. Well, while I believe that Romans 5 teaches us we are all forgiven, I don’t believe it teaches we are all Christians, John 3. But to say “how many times the word inclusionism is in the Bible 0 ” is not the best deffence aginst that teaching. There are many words not in the Bible but are taught. And just to be clear om not a supporter.

  11. An interesting read. Still not coming to your conclusions, but thanks for your input. Appreciate your contribution to this ongoing discussion it is certainly one which engenders a lot of debate🙂

  12. Excellent Truth, well written. Well done you!

  13. univeralism is repulsive. End of story.No debate needed.
    Narrow is the path Padawan!
    Grace & peace

  14. As I read through this post, I couldn’t help but think that calvinism (Reformed Theology) make many of the same arguments, albeit from a different point of view…….do we have freewill or does God control and choose us for salvation? I think inclusionism, universalism and calvinism are all branches from the same tree……and they don’t like each other either.

  15. Great post Paul! You posts have defo not only awoken me but help me pin down the key points of inclusion! (Or whatever it’s called).
    Thanks again! 👌

  16. Paul, I like what you said in this post but your writings in the 2 links about hell really do not sit well with me. Your thoughts on grace are radical to most of the church but now shared by an increasing number of teachers in the church. I have bought into it all. Over the past few years it has changed my life, even though I have been a committed Christian for decades. But my concern is that when people see what you believe about hell they will dismiss EVERYTHING you say, which would be a shame. I really doubt that any of the main grace teachers share your view on hell.

    • The family of God is like any family – there are different perspectives on different issues. I cannot think of one pair of grace teachers who agree 100% on everything. In my circle of grace-preaching friends I know some who believe in healing and some who don’t. Some preach eternal security, while others say you can lose your salvation. These are significant differences! But my love and respect for those who differ from me is greater than these differences. I would encourage you not to be offended by my views on hell – views that not even I hold strongly – and celebrate those things we agree on.

      • Paul, I’m not offended at all. And the fact that you say that you don’t hold them strongly means something to me. I may be assuming too much here, but I think you have experienced the love of God personally and this is coloring your views on hell. Which I understand completely.

        Your blog and the books you have written have been a real blessing to me. God has used you, among a few others, to continue teaching me about grace and move me away from performance – and it has been wonderful. I am truly thankful to you for that.

  17. momzilla76 // July 17, 2014 at 3:13 am //

    Why do folks hate free will so much? God wants us to choose Him. Maybe a God who is a bit lonely is too scary for some people. If God wanted zombies He would have just made us that way from the beginning.

  18. Excellent post!

  19. John Huckle // July 17, 2014 at 7:16 am //

    Thanks, Paul, for bringing this up again. I think an inclusionist would object to the characterization that “all are saved” and add that from God’s point of view all are reconciled (II Cor 5:19) but in order to be saved one must believe, that is, decide to accept the payment for sin that God has already provided.

    • Yes, I suspect some would object to that characterization. In fact, many inclusionists seem to be allergic to the word saved. In contrast with the NT apostles who were emphatic about it, they don’t like to use it. If pressed, most would say that no one is saved until they believe – which is what the Bible teaches.

      However, a strict interpretation of inclusionism would insist that all are saved regardless of what they believe. How so? Since humanity is one with the Lord, then his future is our future. “As he is so are you in this world” (1 John 4:17). This isn’t me trying to twist inclusionist words. The conclusion that humamity is saved is one of the central beliefs of inclusionist doctrine.

      • John Huckle // July 17, 2014 at 8:58 am //

        Paul, I think you intended to say, “most would say that one is not saved until they believe . ..”

      • I did, thanks John. I corrected it in case other readers are not as sharp-eyed as you and get confused. Thanks again.

  20. Steffan // July 17, 2014 at 8:03 am //

    Hey Paul, I love ya man and if I can humbly point this out – I feel like many of your arguments in this article are boomerang arguments.

    In fact, I think Dr. Michael Brown has used similar arguments and logic against “hyper grace” that you are using against inclusion here.

    For instance, one of your points regards the fruit of inclusion – that it leads to church splits or that those who espouse inclusion have left mean comments. These are ad hominem arguments, similar to ones Brown has used against hyper-gracers which demonize and claim that all the fruits of “those people” who “believe that” are bad. Hyper grace preachers have certainly lost their temper before and left mean comments and church splits can occur over any doctrinal issue – and probably more commonly do over hyper grace than inclusion I’d imagine.

    Certainly no one group of people are perfectly behaved, but further, I don’t think these kind of arguments add anything to the conversation but validating and furthering an “us vs. them” mentality of fear instead of fostering understanding and dialog in the midst of complex issues.

    So I’d love to continue to hearing your thoughts on inclusion, as it is something I’m trying to study. But I’d find your writing more compelling if you stayed away from ad hominems and tried to address the actual arguments and tenants in inclusion instead rallying people to a pre-decided conclusion with emotion-based rhetoric. Hope this note finds you well.

    -Steffan

    • Thanks for your comment Steffan. The fact that churches have split over inclusionism is not an argument but evidence of its fruit. Jesus said we are to recognize trees by their fruit, so examining the fruit of a doctrine is a legitimate exercise. We’re supposed to do it. You will observe that at the end of the post I have invited readers to make their own observations. Wouldn’t you agree that was fair?

      I personally know two churches that have fallen apart as a direct consequence of this message. I am also aware of several ministers who have become itinerant because their adoption of inclusionism made them homeless. True, the same could be said of those who preach grace. So we must take care to separate the facts that we have observed from the interpretation we place upon them. If someone claims that the message of grace has made a person ungracious or licentious, that is clearly a flawed interpretation, because the grace of God cannot do that (Tit 2:11-12). However, if a message portrays a God who forces himself on the unwilling leads to a violent and bullying response from those who preach it, then we must be open to the possibility that there is a connection.

      • yes Paul, inclusionism , begins to sound more like a social club,if were in, why a bible at all

      • Steffan // July 17, 2014 at 9:01 am //

        Thanks for your response Paul. I agree, it is biblical/wise to examine fruit. However, I suppose the flaw in such points is one of correlation and causation. Like I said, any group of people can act any way and it is not necessarily a direct cause of their beliefs (though it could be). I guess all I was saying is that because of that, those kinds of points aren’t guaranteed to be accurate and don’t ultimately help people decide for themselves based on the actual tenants of inclusion.

        Like I was trying to clarify in my recent comment on your inclusion study notes thread, I do think inclusion preaches free will. You are right in saying they don’t preach free will as far as the first half of the gospel goes (whether we are forgiven by God and adopted into his family), but I don’t feel like that is a negative thing personally at least. I’d hope that God would do everything on his part that is possible to redeem his creation. But inclusion does absolutely preach free will as far as the second half of the gospel goes – whether we choose to receive by faith and live in the reality of our adoption and forgiveness.

        What do you think of that?

        All the best,
        Steffan

      • John Huckle // July 17, 2014 at 9:05 am //

        Likewise I have been reflecting on those ministries which are constantly critical of other ministries as though they are called to point out every flaw. Now I understand they merely reflect the God they believe in. In truth I believe God is not constantly examining our walk to point out every flaw. Yes, sin has consequences & we should avoid it but I believe God sees us through the veil of Jesus Christ.

      • John, what you said was so profound. I think many Christians, myself included for many years, tend to look at God as though he is evaluating every word and deed. The better our actions and words the more we are favored and blessed by God. To get away from this mindset and begin to understand that God is always favoring me has been so liberating.

  21. Paul, All of your articles on Inclusionism are excellent. Thank you! I have used them often to educate people who have been right on the edge of embracing this deception and for those who are just hearing the truth about God’s grace.

  22. Like all of the various views on Christian soteriology, there are some good things and some bad things. We don’t have to be afraid of this if we know what grace actually is; maybe we will learn something about our own theological biases in the process. Actually, I think the West is a bit too deist in their views. Having said that, I think universalism and the inclusionism you describe here are just the ugly stepchildren of Calvinism. (i.e., since we have no choice in the matter, they conclude that God must save everyone). But while the Bible is pretty clear that we were included in Christ on the cross, we must choose to receive this free gift by grace through faith. For love can only exist between free persons; it cannot be forced. So, great post on an important subject that we should wrestle through with grace for one another, find out what is true and leave the rest.

  23. This is a great word brother Paul. I would much rather be in a loving marriage relationship, than an arranged marriage that is based on obligation rather than true love. God bless!

  24. Full Of Grace // July 17, 2014 at 11:55 am //

    Paul and all,

    I consider myself an inclusionist and one who reads and listens to a TON of inclusionist messages. I simply have never seen or heard anyone that is an inclusionist claim or say some of the things you say they do, primarily the bit about “You’re in until you’re out” and a rejection of free will. Funny enough, I’ve never heard of Grace Communion International, so I can’t quite be sure what kind of organization you’re allowing to represent Inclusionism. Like you said in another post, there are many flavors.

    And as a personal testimony, I have experienced the exact opposite in my life then what you claim in your 3 points. Furthermore, I have noticed a drastic difference in loving my neighbor when I “no longer see them according to the flesh”.

    So if inclusionists tell you that you’re not representing them right, its not really fair of you to find one group, or some comments they made to then condemn the whole group and somehow make sweeping generalizations such as it Distorting God’s love, damaging hope and diminishing faith, because the exact OPPOSITE has been true for me.

    • The GCI website is quoted by many inclusionist preachers. Indeed, many of them have links to it or have cut and copied from it’s statement of beliefs.

      Regarding the other thing, let me ask you three questions: (1) Do you believe humanity is now in Christ regardless of individual belief? (2) Do you believe that faith is needed to experience that “reality”? (3) What happens to those who fail to believe?

  25. I do believe in inclusion, but NOT in accordance with the definition used in this blog post. I don’t mind promoting this site and other people who I don’t agree with because it it not about being in the correct club, it is about continuing to grow and develop in faith. To learn and share the Love of God. To know today what I did not know yesterday and to be open to learn even more tomorrow that may shake what I believe today. Anyone who is so firm in their convictions that they don’t have room in their mind or spirit to be wrong is someone for whom I feel sorry.

    • Yes, an unteachable spirit is a terrible thing. As I have said many times, there are different flavors to inclusionism; some inclusionists are universalists, while others claim you can fall out of union with Christ.

      When I first encountered this teaching several years ago, I was told by many who taught it to check out the GCI website. It was almost universally acknowledged as the place to go to learn what inclusionism is and isn’t. In my own reading on the subject, I came to the same conclusion. I have no desire to misrepresent the beliefs of others. Consequently, the definition of inclusionism above is a distillation of the belief statements found on that site.

  26. John Huckle // July 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm //

    I have just finished James Richards’ book, “Grace:The Power To Change.” Richards’ challenge to his readers is does what we believe make us love God & other people more or less. Although this may not be a pure litmus test if the answer is less then maybe what I believe is not true. So I would ask anyone, does inclusionism help anyone love God & other people more or less?

  27. John Huckle // July 17, 2014 at 3:34 pm //

    Paul, inclusionism remains an interesting subject. For example I would describe the gospel as the message of the finished work of Christ, and everything it accomplished for all men for all time because of the free gift of God’s mercy, grace, love, goodness and forgiveness. Is this statement inclusionism? I would say probably not & that further elaboration would be necessary.

    • John, that to me is the gospel of Jesus Christ, who died once for all. Everything that needed to be done to heal every hurt was accomplished at the cross. I agree that further elaboration is not necessary. It is a simple message that reveals a limitless love. We will spend eternity exploring the reaches of his great love for us.

  28. John Nankervis // July 17, 2014 at 4:43 pm //

    My understanding is that the inclusionist believes that through the finished work of Christ all humanity is a new creation in Christ (objective truth) but in order for that to become subjective (of benefit) one must believe (exercise the faith of Christ) which is an act of our free will. If one doesn’t believe then you will not go to heaven but to hell. Many will readily accept that all are forgiven of their sin (objective truth) but this truth is of no value until it becomes subjective through believe.

    So what is the problem? Both sides agree that access to heaven is by believing (an act of free will) in the finished work of Christ, the only difference I can see is the theology behind each view.

    • You have answered your own question, John. What is the problem? Theology. Everyone has one, whether they know it or not. Theology, in essence, is a picture of God and his character. Since the gospel of grace and inclusionism offer vastly different pictures, we have a conflict. Inclusionism borrows heavily from the language of grace to paint a picture that is as far from grace as you can get. Both says preach faith, but it’s faith in different things. Grace says believe in Jesus who draws all to himself and holds nothing against you and earnestly desires to have fellowship with you forever. Inclusionism says believe in a Jesus who took you against your will, because you can’t be trusted, and who will cut you off if you fail to believe.

      Of course you won’t hear it expressed so bluntly in some of the writers you listed. What possible interest would they have in showing the line between these two diametrically opposed messages? Inclusionism only exists because it pilfers from the pantry of grace.

    • There is a coldness,a inpersonal air about inclusionism that to me is sad,as the personal aspect of my relationship with the father grows the closer I want to be.

  29. John Huckle // July 17, 2014 at 6:50 pm //

    Thanks for your response, Paul, to my question. However, here is where I still have trouble. I understand you concur with my description of the gospel as the finished work of Jesus Christ and what it accomplished for all men. But suppose I amplify “His finished work” to mean crucified, died, buried, made alive, risen and seated? With my elaboration have I transitioned into inclusionism & in particular that “Jesus took you against your will . . .?” If so where have I crossed the line from the true gospel of grace & drifted over into inclusionism?

    • I think anytime we add to scripture we cross a bad line. Inclusionism describes humanity as righteous and holy, yet the NT writers spoke of sinners, the ungodly, and children of disobedience. Inclusionism can only succeed by blurring the line between itself and the gospel. Thankfully, the line between grace and ungrace, or freedom and kidnapping, is clearly drawn in Scripture.

  30. Joseph Prince // July 17, 2014 at 9:30 pm //

    Without hearing this truth and believing on it, how can a person come out of work righteousness (worldly system). I caught this truth hearing from Pastor Bertie Brits, should be around 8 months back and am on the journey. I have even come through this inclusion also. What I understood is, it is easy to slip into that teaching without a firm understanding. Bertie explains this in his teaching “redemption and salvation”, “enemies of grace,” “seeing the face of God” by Nico Uys etc., which helped me a lot. Your teaching on this subject is encouraging. Thank you very much.

  31. Well spoken Paul!

  32. gatordeano // July 18, 2014 at 4:21 am //

    Frankly I love both sides & think we are misunderstanding each other on some issues, making conclusions & even accusations of the other based on human reasoning & throwing out straw men at times, but it’s still a discussion worth having. I don’t think it rises to the level of heresy in either case.

    For example the pic “Inclusion” is not a word that appears in the Bible implies it is not scriptural. Of course not, the Bible is written in Hebrew & Greek🙂 But the word ALL is in there a lot and that implies inclusion though we can differ on who, what, where, when & how it might work..

    And the scripture can be vague and open to interpretation, & very possibly on purpose. For instance, the simple “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to myself.” The “lifted up” is the Cross from a couple of verses later, but it just says “ALL” in the Greek. Some translators say “all men” (but when and how are vague), others “all things” opening inclusion up to the cosmos, and from preceding verses others say it means “all judgement”. And maybe all are right.

  33. Throughout your article, you fail to give a proper definition of what inclusion is. So here you go. Inclusion is the belief that one died for (the greek word meaning “as” or “seeing”) all – again, in the greek “all” therefore all have died. Paul is clear that Jesus died as all, and that in his death, all have died. Are we to believe you believe that Jesus has left those who he died with in the grave? are we some sort of zombie walking around undead awaiting some “regeneration” (another term that doesn’t appear in the bible) because of our recitation of a magical incantation known as the “sinner’s prayer” (yet another term not in the bible)? Could it be that much of what we believe is given modern titles, and simply saying “this is not a biblical term” is really a poor argument against something? I would like a simple answer as to how any of you who seem to only want to fight against this message (one taught by Irenaeaus, Athanasius, Origen, as well as various other church fathers) cannot answer the question – Did one die as all? If you cannot believe that, you belittle the work of Christ, and make Him of no effect – insulting the spirit of grace by counting his blood as a common thing.

    • Thank you for your comment. You will find a definition of inclusionism in the second paragraph of the post. The definition you provide is partial and not unique to inclusionism. For instance, Watchman Nee believed all died in Christ but made it plain this was the “gospel for Christians” (see ch. 3 of The Normal Christian Life). Nee never took the additional steps that inclusionism takes of speculating that humanity was raised and ascended with Christ. And he never suggested that unbelievers were righteous and holy, as inclusionism does. Instead he said this: “Just as we cannot have justification if we have not seen him bearing our sins on the cross, so we cannot have sanctification if we have not seen him bearing us on the cross” (start of chapter 3).

      If notable preachers such as Nee believe humanity died with Christ without crossing over to the additional features of inclusionism, that’s fine with me. My personal view, however, is that all did not die with Christ so the zombie argument, as clever as it is, does not apply. Nor do I think the sinners prayer, as you call it, is something to mock. Jesus said the moment a sinner first expresses their love and faith in Christ is a joyous occasion, celebrated in heaven. Jesus is the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. Humanity is forgiven and free on his account. There is no need to add to this glorious truth. It is sufficient for the salvation of all who desire it.

      You claim inclusionism was taught by Irenaeaus (among others), but in his book Against Heresies, Irenaueaus speaks against inclusionist-type thinking. For instance, in ch.22 he says only those who believe in God are acceptable to him and are united with him. Even if it were true that the early church fathers preached inclusionism, that would be no reason for embracing a message that is different from the one Jesus revealed and the apostles taught.

      • How could “all” not die with christ when Paul says “if one died for all, then ALL HAVE DIED” and goes on to say “and one did die for all”? I fail to see how you ignore that scripture. None of you are willing to answer that question. I wonder why?

      • Who is ignoring that scripture? I have written several posts on it including this one. In addition, I have also written study note on this passage.

    • Caleb, you say that “Paul is clear that Jesus died as all, and that in his death, all have died. Are we to believe you believe that Jesus has left those who he died with in the grave?” From the premise that ‘all died,’ you assume that all are raised. This is deductive reasoning, which stems from natural logic and philosophy. Yet Paul set the example for us, saying that “we speak not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words (1 Cor 2:13 NASB). We are to believe what the Scriptures say, and leave the unknown in the realm of the unknown. What God has revealed we must believe, and where he remains silent we too ought to remain silent. So I ask you, coming from the presupposition that what God has revealed has priority over deductive reasoning, where in the New Testament does anyone say “all rose?” With the kind of fervency this notion is preached, it should be found throughout the New Testament. Ironically, I cannot find one place were Paul, Peter, Jude, James, John, or anyone else said “all rose.” Can you?

      • The (increasingly overused) argument that what I am preaching is mere “philosophy” is a straw man. It’s scriptural, it’s just a point of scripture you are refusing to acknowledge. If one died for all then all have died naturally leads to all descending, all raising, and all ascending. It is sheer dualism to think otherwise. The neo-arian thinking in western evangelicalism is palpable and the larger point is – nobody is buying it any longer. Jacob Arminius and John Calvin are but two sides to the same counterfeit coin. Dump the coin for the gospel man.

      • If humanity’s co-resurrection and co-ascension with Christ is scriptural, as you say, perhaps you could provide us with some scriptures.

    • Caleb what a coincedence meeting you here I have been meaning to speak to you. You mention Irenaeaus, and say zombie is not mentioned in the bible, you are obviously unaware of his views on Genisis 6. You have so much concern for the dead you bury them, my advice to you follow Jesus.but that aside it is a small world and I have another concern you need to address. Some time back you visited Doxa church in Auckland where I live, I have many friends in doxa and was invited to the conference, I did not make it. But knowing your affiliations I was concerned and after the conference contacted a leader in the church to make sure the all in message was no put forward, he assured me it was not and after looking you up called me back and voiced concern. I also called Carel the pastor of the church and he assured me he did not support your all in, and was aware of the dangers. I spoke to many others and family I have in the church and none got the all in message. I have these conclusions, either you are a bad speaker and do not communicate clearly what you believe, all that listened to you are bad listeners, you have no confidence in your message and try to hide your intent, you are deceptive, if I have missed what happened please speak up. Even in your comment you skirt around the issue. I ask you plainly do you believe that all men will be saved, regardless of their belief or faith.All died could point to many things we all are aware of the different views that have been around for as long as the church. No quoting scripture just a answer please.

    • ruthless trust rob // July 20, 2014 at 4:09 pm //

      Funny…you accuse of no scripture being used…yet you are the only one with out it…simply put…Romans 5 teaches through one man the world was redeemed …forgiven…but not all saved…that comes by following chapters like john 3…if you would use some scritpture perhaps it could be addressed…

    • Caleb, if what you are preaching (that ‘all rose’) has ‘all died’ as its only foundation, you are forming conclusions deductively. Deductive reasoning is part of logic, which originated in Greek philosophy. This kind of reasoning is observable based on what you just said (i.e. If one died for all then all have died naturally leads to all descending, all raising, and all ascending). Were you unaware that deductive reasoning (also known as deductive logic) comes from logic, which was introduced through Greek philosophers? I am not refusing to acknowledge it might be Scriptural. In fact, I am welcoming Scripture and asking for Scriptural support. Can you provide that, Caleb? Where does anyone say “all rose” in the New Testament? If the ‘death of all’ with Christ naturally leads to the resurrection and ascension of all, surely some apostle somewhere preached ‘all rose.’

  34. so there: Paul, between you and Chris,I got nuttin to say

  35. i love how you tied faith, hope and love into this post… indeed, these three abide in perfect harmony together: the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Faith. Christ is our Hope. God is Love.

    “It is by faith in the hope of Jesus that we experience his love here and now.”
    this is truth…
    because ‘it is by the Holy Spirit in Christ that we experience God here and now.’😉

  36. Draydon // July 18, 2014 at 5:42 pm //

    Paul you teach a doctrine which is contrary to scripture , and I think you know this , as you do not allow any other opinion which contradicts your,s.The comments on this site are by the same people all agreeing with you and the odd one that you let thru that doesn’t.This is the most biased site on the net that’s out there on Christianity .

    • It is true that I have had to delete several comments this week, but the majority of those deleted have been comments discussing universalism. Since the above post pertains to inclusionism, comments on other subjects violate E2R’s Comment Policy of keeping threads focused. I also deleted a couple of comments that grossly exceeded the 250 word limit.

  37. Great post Paul! You’ve summed it up pretty well. Just to summarize from my viewpoint – God still today gives mankind the same choice (in Christ) he gave Adam. What these people must understand is that the original sin remains man’s pride which keeps Him from God. Inclusionism to me sounds like a group of people not willing to bow the knee before Jesus and accept Him as our Lord and Saviour IN THIS LIFE – very proud if you ask me. It is very plain and simple – you have the choice NOW, choose life – NOW, the good news is that you are given a choice – a perfect choice in a perfect plan!! I agree, gospel based Christians should not waste time arguing this nonsense. There is light for the incl….sts – CHRIST DIED FOR ALL – ALL THAT IS REQUIRED IS YOU DYING FOR HIM, NOW!!! Come-on it’s not so hard, just think of the rewards. Shalom

  38. Lee Whitcomb // July 19, 2014 at 12:01 am //

    Both Inclusionism and Universalism might be right. (Before you get out the tar and feathers I said MIGHT BE.) Why? Scriptures are clear, what God accomplished in His Son was for the WORLD. No less than five verses use the word WORLD (1Jn 2:2 sticks out), and ten verses use that bothersome word ALL (1 Tim 4:10 sticks out). We know (we think we know) that this age will close with those who have not believed. Why? Because God did not grant the ability to believe (Phil 1:29) and God did not give everyone the gift of faith (Ep 2:8-9). To say that this age IS IT for salvation puts limitations on God; I don’t want to go there. I know I said, “God may not chose and call everyone to salvation in this age” and that puts a restriction on the free will thinker who believes that the natural man has the ability to reach out to God and ask for salvation—he DOES NOT have that ability (1Co 2:14). It was pointed out that Universalism says, everyone WILL BE saved; I for one hope that’s true. What soul coming into the world (before the influences of family and life experiences did there damage) would want to be Jeffery Dahmer, David Berkowitz, or Adolf Hitler? And, because time and circumstance made these monsters we should assign them to eternal torment? Concerning Jeffery, David, and Adolf don’t forget the Scriptures that use the words, once for all….

    • Lee, I (and all Christians should) want everyone to be saved – I know Jesus wants it – He died for all to be saved!! But the way God has revealed it to me and is confirming through ministries such as E2R, is that He created man perfectly in His image with a perfect choice to choose. We know (believe) that God has unlimited ability – even to save those who chose not. But that would jeopardize His plan. God in His almighty wisdom, elected man to be the pinnacle of His creation, and through Jesus and His Holy Spirit, He empowered man to become what He intended him to be. But man cannot attain this in his own strength, he must rely WHOLLY on God (F-S-HS) to accomplish this. I also can’t figure how a big almighty God would put His one and only plan into man’s hands but that is what He did! And now creation is waiting, groaning, for the pinnacle of creation (man) to manifest in Christ! This is the story we need to tell the world and not about what God might still do in age to come. He did everything and gave everything He had to give in Jesus for man to attain what God intended and overcome this world (the flesh, SELF, PRIDE)!!! Love in Christ

  39. The Holy spirit is inclusive and exclusive in many instances in scripture, sacrifice your son your only son, is one classic example.We all know that Abraham had two sons.And we should also all know that all that are Jesus,s are ressurected in him.

  40. I think most of what you wrote here is just your own opinion and your own assumptions. Everyone should be free to believe whatever they chose to believe without being attacked by others…especially those who call themselves Christians. Preach what you believe to be true and leave the rest alone. Everyone thinks they are correct in their own beliefs. Nothing you say will change that. Just share what you believe to be the good news. Anything more than that is a waste of time and energy. Just my own opinion. 🙂

    • I’m not sure who you think I am attacking, June. I am resisting an idea, and no man. My heart’s desire is for every person to be free and experience the unconditional love of their heavenly Father. Consequently I will proclaim the gospel without shame and speak out against any teaching that diminishes the love of God, portrays Jesus as a thief, and says you’re an untrustworthy robot. You can thank me later.🙂

  41. Michael Jenkins // July 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm //

    Thank you for writing this,this spread lights on so many things.

  42. Lee Whitcomb // July 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm //

    You can wrap you presentation with gift paper imprinted with the word inclusionism, but it comes down to the argument dividing the protestant church that on one side says, God is 100% sovereign concerning ALL matters of Life—and, on the other side it says, its God and man’s participation; man makes FREE WILL choices. Paul, I cannot find free will being taught concerning salvation. Yes we have a will—we can choose Ford or Chevy, we can choose McDonalds or Hardes, but the unregenerated man CANNOT MAKE SPIRITUAL CHOICES (1Co 2:14). God is a super salesman. His grace (His Irresistible grace) opens our mind and heart to the truth of the Gospel and we respond; God initiates and we respond. Believing is GRANTED (Phil 1:29), and FAITH is a gift (Ep 2:8-9). And, that’s that….

    • The Bible nowhere says that God is “sovereign” in the sense that word is usually used. For more, see this post.

    • ruthless trust rob // July 20, 2014 at 4:36 pm //

      You might consider this as well. The Bible also says that we are responsible for receiving Christ as Savior. If we believe in Jesus Christ we will be saved (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10). God knows who will be saved and God chooses who will be saved, and we must choose Christ in order to be saved.

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