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Ralph Martin: Will Many Be Saved? reviewed by Amos Yong

The line of thinking in Will Many Be Saved? suggests a negative response. Martin does not quite come out to say so, although it is surely possible that I missed this assertion. If so, however, then the “catch-22” that has plagued historic Protestant traditions re-emerges. The Reformed tradition (broadly defined), for instance, has long debated whether missionary and evangelistic motivation thrives from or is undercut by a strong doctrine of election and predestination. Convinced Calvinists say yes, Arminians (including most renewalists) demur. Similarly, the sword may cut both ways with regard to Martin’s wager. His claim is that an unfounded optimism that hell will be largely, if not altogether, vacated diminishes evangelistic activity. But if Christians (Catholics or otherwise) believe that hell will be quite populated (so that many if not most of humanity ends up there), then why expend energy on evangelism anyway? Perhaps the more pragmatic response is an authentic agnosticism on this matter, and one way to read this volume is as a corrective to the universalistic trends toward precisely such a middle way. Still, whatever one makes of this pragmatic argument regarding missionary motivation, Martin’s book deserves to be widely read by those interested in, and even assigned as required reading for courses on, theology of missions and evangelization, theology of religions, interreligious encounter, and soteriology.

Reviewed by Amos Yong

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Category: In Depth, Winter 2014

About the Author: Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary and Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, and an undergraduate degree from Bethany University of the Assemblies of God. He is the author of numerous papers and over 30 books. fuller.edu/faculty/ayong/ amosyong@fuller.edu Facebook

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