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To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview

David K. Clark gives an interesting and insightful discussion of “Religious Pluralism and Christian Exclusivism.” This is so in spite of the fact that he dismisses out of hand the more mediating position of inclusivism and focuses only on pluralism and exclusivism. Oddly enough, however, he eventually collapses important elements of traditional inclusivism, such as optimistic speculation on the fate of the unevangelized, into a kind of nontraditional exclusivism. Thus, he ends by strongly affirming authentic interreligious dialogue. To some extent perhaps, Clark personifies the fact that the now common categories of exclusivism (only explicit faith in Christ, usually through the direct proclamation ministry of the Church, saves), pluralism (more or less all religions connect/unite devotees to God/Ultimate Reality), and inclusivism (only Jesus Christ saves but Christ is not limited to human effort or institutions) are not entirely satisfactory classifications. Nevertheless, Clark strongly debunks the ideology of pluralism (i.e., all roads lead to God) and defends Christian exclusivism (i.e., only Christ saves). Furthermore, Abdul Saleeb (pseudonym) engagingly argues that more fundamental than focusing on interfaith violence for resolving conflict between Christianity and Islam is an understanding of and dialogue on theology, or on the belief systems that underpin justifications and motivations for such actions. As a convert from Islam to Christianity, Saleeb’s point seems well taken. Does it not make sense that Christians and Muslims talking is better than them fighting, and that it might eventually accomplish a more peaceful co-existence than attempts at mutual extermination? Of course, we might grant that conversation requires partners, and where some have become adamantly entrenched in ideologies of hate and hostility dialogue will not be as effective. Yet surely this dismal description is only indicative of a minority of extremists rather than the majority of adherents.

A brief observation may be in order about To Everyone an Answer. This is a good book that addresses a legitimate need in contemporary society. However, it has something of a defensive, perhaps at times, regressive tone regarding today’s society and culture. It might conceivably benefit from a bit more dynamic interaction with contemporary culture in view of the gospel’s ageless reality and verity. However, worth remembering is that much was predetermined by the nature of apologetics as conceived by its editors and contributors.

To Everyone an Answer is intentionally an accessible and readable book for the most part. Its thorough name, subject, and Scripture indexes are helpful study aids. Clergy and students will likely benefit most from this book. Doubtless, informed laity, and of course, curious non-Christians will find it informative as well.

Reviewed by Tony Richie


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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2009

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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