Item description for No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized by John Sanders...
How can God be just if he condemns those who have never heard the gospel to an eternity in hell? This book provides a biblical, historical and theological investigation of this major unresolved problem in evangelical theology.
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Studio: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.67" Width: 5.8" Height: 0.76" Weight: 0.98 lbs.
Release Date Dec 1, 2001
Publisher Wipf & Stock Publishers
ISBN 1579108342 ISBN13 9781579108342
Availability 0 units.
More About John Sanders
Dr. John Sanders is a Research Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Huntington College. He is the author/editor of numerous books and journal articles. He currently serves on the steering committee for the Open and Relational Theologies group for the American Academy of Religion; is the secretary-treasurer of the Christian Theological Research Fellowship; and is a member of the American Theological Society, the Society of Christian Philosophers and the Evangelical Theologcial Society.
Reviews - What do customers think about No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized?
Best book on this important subject Mar 5, 2008
For all those interested in this question, this is the first book to obtain. Mr. Sanders surveys the contemporary spectrum of opinion as well as the approaches to this question throughout history. Overall, this very balanced approach is most valuable. The author has a viewpoint but is fair in describing the competing ideas. I firmly believe that it is by carefully reading the wide divergence of opinions that one makes more progress in formulating a coherent answer to a difficult question. I appreciate John Sander's high Christology and high view of the scriptures. Without this base, all opinions are outside Christianity. I have one minor issue with the author and that is his confusion regarding the doctrine of election as it relates to the working of God apart from the preaching of the word. Election is a separate issue and can fall either within the more restrictive view or the inclusive view of the destiny of the unevangelized. This critique is minor. The book deserves 5 stars for it's balance approach.
Excellent Bibliography Jun 13, 2006
Regardless of your stance on the fate of the unevangelized and religious pluralism, this book provides an incredibly wide survey of literature to aid the researcher's thought on these issues (in English language sources). Especially helpful, I thought, was the extensive bibliography Sanders included for "salvation after death," or "postmortem evangelism," a topic difficult to research because of its many names and expressions. Sanders could have increased his research by going into works such as Paul Althaus's Die Letzten Dinge and others, but for most Americans who obstinately refuse to glance upon anything but English texts, he provides an indispensable resource for this topic.
Excellent Survey of Christian Views on the Unevangelized Sep 8, 2002
John Sanders' "No Other Name" is a scholarly, comprehensive survey and critique, written primarily for evangelical Christians, of historically-held Christian positions on the destiny of the unevangelized. By "unevangelized" Sanders means those who never come to know or understand the Gospel message of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ before their death, for whatever reason. He includes those who are simply incapable of understanding, such as young children and the severely mentally disabled; those who have never had the Gospel presented to them, as in all indigenous peoples before missionary contact; and those who may be aware of such "buzz words" as "Jesus" but who never come to an understanding of what the Gospel message charges upon them.
Sanders begins by placing the issue in context: arguing for why it even matters (for example, because of its apologetic importance - people are going to ask and Christians need to have a reply at hand) and describing the controversy it has elicited in modern times among evangelical Christians. He then proceeds to present the two extreme positions on the issue: exclusivism (which he calls restrictivism) and universalism.
Restrictivism is the position that only those who come to know and understand the Gospel during their lifetimes have the opportunity to be saved (whether they actually are, of course, is based on whether they accept the message in faith). Thus by necessity, since they either do not know or do not understand, all the unevangelized are lost to "Hell" (Sanders leaves what that means out-of-scope of the discussion). In a pattern that is repeated with each position, he discusses the Scriptural and theological case for restrictivism, its proponents throughout history (for example, Augustine), and offers a critique, itself based in Scripture and theology.
Universalism, in contrast, is the position that everyone is (at least eventually, perhaps after some "time" beyond death) saved. Thus the destiny of the unevangelized - in fact, everyone's destiny - is at least eventually to be united with God. Universalism is a position that evangelical Christians today would probably almost uniformly find unorthodox and heretical, but Sanders gives it a fair shake (though ultimately rejecting it - and restrictivism for that matter).
After presenting these extremes, Sanders turns to what he lays out as a "wider hope". He discusses universal evangelization - the idea that God miraculously sends a messenger (angelic if not human) to all during their lifetimes, so that all have the opportunity for salvation (whether there's any empirical evidence for this empirically-testable claim is not really discussed - to my knowledge, there is little or none, despite popular evangelical "urban legends" to the contrary). He discusses eschatological evangelization - the idea that God presents the Gospel at the point of death, or after death, to those who are otherwise lost (curiously, the Catholic concept of purgatory is not presented - perhaps because Sanders knows his audience is primarily coming from the Protestant tradition).
Finally, inclusivism is presented. This is the view that God judges all according to their faith response to whatever true revelation they had during their lifetimes. For the unevangelized, this is general revelation - the deep intuition all humans curiously seem to have about a supreme being and a moral law (see the opening chapters of C. S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity", for example). Thus although Christ's atonement remains the basis for anyone's salvation, explicitly knowing and understanding that is not necessary for salvation. Rather, God judges the heart according to the knowledge it had, and an overall faithful response is "credited as righteousness". Nonetheless, responding to general revelation is a precarious path to God - sort of a "plan B". Coming to know and understand the Gospel during one's lifetime is God's preferred approach, not just because of its ability to save, but also because of its ability during our lifetimes to sanctify, give assurance, and come to fuller knowledge.
For conservative Christians who have been raised with restrictivism and have had the lid screwed down tight on the container of all the other views historically held, "No Other Name" will either be enlightening, or a very tough pill to swallow. Never mind that John Wesley and that icon beloved of modern American evangelicalism, C. S. Lewis, were inclusivists (as Sanders documents), I can hear some conservatives saying - its heresy nonetheless. To Sanders' credit, "No Other Name" at least challenges such people to more-charitably regard the diversity of opinion on this issue.
A Model of Balance, Fairness, in Pursuit of the Truth Jan 1, 2002
Without using this site as a platform to prooftext as some reviewers, let me say that Sanders honestly, carefully, scripturally, wrestles with the question of the fate of non-Christian Persons!!!
What I liked most was the historically careful treatment he provided of other views than his own as well as to show the fallout of different positions (theologically, philosophically, and existentially). Not arrogant, but careful, it deserves a wide readership.
Weak Scriptural Witness for Inclusivist Position Jul 12, 2001
Troubling as it is for 21st Century Christians to ponder what will be the fate of those who do not hear the Gospel of Christ before their physical death, Sanders does not answer with sound Biblical exegesis.
Rather, he reads his own thoughts into Scripture. Especially must they contend that God saves some by general revelation. Their whole case hinges on that fact. While never revealing what in general revelation God uses to save, Sanders errors greatly by finding two classes, one in the OT and the other NT to show how he believes those who trust in the God with the level of revelation given, they will be saved. These are the examples of faulty exegesis on Sanders part. The OT believers who are saved, e.g. Abraham, as Paul states believed not in the general revelation given by God to all sinners but to the special revelation (typology) promises of the Messiah. This is the OT means of grace.
For further dialogue on this topic, check out "What About Those Who Have Never Heard?" by Gackre, Nash and Sanders, and see my review of this book.