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Book Analysis

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By ehfeasby1972
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Introduction
The Christian World View used to be universal to the idea that Jesus was the only way to salvation but this has been under attack by those who would believe that there are many ways to be saved, they would be known as Pluralist. Ronald Nash confronts these claims and defends the orthodox Christian beliefs in his book “Is Jesus the only Savior?” An analysis of the first six chapters of the book “Is Jesus the only Savior?” by Ronald Nash will be given by the author in two parts, the first will analysis the arguments given by Nash on the topic of Religious Pluralism, and the second part will be a personal conclusion on the topic. Ronald Nash served as a professor for over forty years in the areas of theology, apologetics, ethics, world view and history. Nash had a doctorate in Philosophy with a Christian world view.
Book Analysis
In the first six chapters of the book “Is Jesus the only Savior?” Nash defends Christian Exclusivism and argues against “Religious Pluralism” specifically John Hicks modern view on the topic. Nash in his logical arguments never strays away from fundamental biblical foundations and presents a clear and logical defense of his view and rebuttal towards Hicks and Religious Pluralism on a whole. Nash starts the book with a very clear and concise definition for Christian Exclusivism, “Christian exclusivism can be defined as a belief that (1) Jesus is the only Savior and (2) explicit faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation.” As Nash argues against Pluralism and defends exclusivism his argument will revolve around these two beliefs.
Nash looks at the philosophical argument of Hicks Pluralism that God is both personal and impersonal, Nash rightly points out that this is type of argumentation is in violation of the logical absolute known as the Law of Non-Contradiction, when he states; “It is logically impossible for God to be both personal and impersonal at the same time.” Nash uses the universal philosophical laws in refuting Hicks thesis showing that he was not using biased Christian ideas but solid logic. This logic reasons that Hicks is coming from a conclusion and trying to create a reasoning to support his conclusion in which he does not do. Another example of this occurs when Hick states that God is unknowable, yet he also states that one of God’s attributes is divine love in which all can be saved. This line of reasoning again does not work if according to Hicks God is unknowable then how could one know that one of God’s attributes is divine love. Nash points out many of these inconsistencies in Hicks philosophy of God and why he has changed or adjusted his view throughout the years.
Nash next defends the dual nature of Jesus. Hicks tries to redefine “truth” to be relevant to the individual person. One example given is, that to a Christian Jesus would be the savior but to a Muslim Jesus would just be a prophet. Nash shows that in these two propositions that one is true and the other must be false. Nash states that “No proposition may be both true and false in the same sense and at the same time.” So in the example above Hicks claims that both of those statements can be true at the same time, this would contradict the law of excluded middle. Both people in this example may believe their statement to be true but clearly they contradict each other. The belief that something is true does not in and of itself make it true, Hicks logic is show to be faulty by Nash. Hicks’ defends his logical inconsistency by referring to Smith’s use of Religious truths being subject to personal attitudes. What this claim is that Religious truths do not function under the normal logical rules they operate on their own outside of universal reasoning laws. These inconsistencies according to Harold Netland would mean that the pluralist is committed to the position the all religions have the same single divine reality that come from different cultural and historical images like Allah, Shiva, Krishna, Yahweh, and others. Netland states that if one studies the different historical and cultural difference behind the different major religions one would see that they can not belong to the same single divine reality and in many ways they are completely contradictory to each other. Nash again uses clear logic to show the inconsistencies in Hicks view.
Hick also does not take the Bible especially the New Testament as the word of God. He questions the authorship of the books found within the New Testament and this is where in the author’s opinion much of his preconceived notions arise. Nash does an excellent job at defending the Bible and give great examples of the now disproven sources that Hicks uses in his argument against the authorship of the books of the New Testament. Hicks specifically does not like the Gospel of John because its aim is to prove the dual nature of Jesus and defends the deity of Jesus. Hicks believes that the early Church are the ones responsible for “turning Jesus into God” and that Jesus was so connected to God that those who followed him had mistaken this as him being God. Hicks also states that “this impact was not a result of Christ’s actual deity; rather, it was a consequence of the powerful presence of God’s love in Jesus’ life.” This is what led to them believing Jesus was deity and eventually declaring this to be true in 325 at the Council of Nicea.
One of the hardest to understand of Hicks view is in the dual nature of Jesus. Hicks defines the essentials of God and the essentials of man and show how they could not exist together in one person as the Orthodox Christian belief claims. Nash defends the Orthodox belief by redefining the argument to state what is essential of God and what is essential to be a man but redefines what is truly essential to be man against what is non-essential. This defense is hard as both Hicks and Nash are stating properties that they determine to be essential. In Hicks list of essentials of a man were found to be true, logic would follow that the dual nature of Jesus would be found to be impossible proving his preconceived notion. The same would be true of Nash, if his list of essentials of a man were found to be true, then his preconceived notion of the dual nature of Jesus would be true. Nash does a great job at defining what is essential and non-essential and uses sound logic but it is still improvable what is truly essential and what is non-essential. The author finds this argument hard to prove or disprove on these grounds as we are finite beings trying to understand the abilities and attributes of an infinite God. If a person believes that the Bible is the word of God then we must set what it says as the metric of truth and base our understanding on it. In the area of the dual nature of Jesus the Bible states many times that Jesus was God and man existing together in one person and in this He also exists in a triune God with the Father and the Holy Spirit. In the authors opinion these are things one must take on faith because the creator of us all says it is true in His reveled word the Bible. Our finite philosophy can only take us so far and then we must have faith in areas that our finite reasoning cannot completely understand.
The first six chapters of the book “Is Jesus the only Savior” Nash give an overview as to what Religious Pluralism is and Hicks view on the subject. Nash takes Hicks philosophy on God and salvation and breaks down Hicks major views. Nash takes the time and effort to understand Hicks view and then he shows the inconsistencies in his logic and proves that Hicks philosophy starts with a conclusion and then tries to prove that he is right. This use of philosophy goes against all conventional philosophical methods and will always lead to improvable or un-defendable theories. Nash use solid philosophical methods to refute and disprove the conclusions that were reached by Hicks methods Nash also gives a solid defense to the Orthodox view of Exclusivism.
Personal Conclusion
The author finds the topic of exclusivism verse pluralism to very intriguing and think that this book is very relevant to the culture of today who are trying to destroy the word of God and His truths. In today’s culture even the Christian culture many have believed the lie that there are many ways to Salvation. We see bumper stickers that say “coexist” and people who take offense to the idea that Jesus is the exclusive way to salvation. Nash’s defense of Christian Exclusivism was a very deep and intellectual but it comes with great information one could use against the idea of pluralism. Nash use of the Bible and orthodox beliefs is great and his use philosophy was accurate and sound. It has become almost immoral in culture today to think or believe that not everyone will be saved by God even by many in the church. They would ask questions like what about those who have never heard the gospel or what about those who were raised in a Muslim culture and live a very good life. These are good questions and they come from a sympathetic heart for those who will spend eternity separated from God. But one thing we must never forget is that we all deserve to be eternally separated from God, there is not one person who deserves to be saved based on their own merit. Pluralism tries to resolve this concern by allowing many ways to be saved but God has chosen only one way. There are only two types of religion in the world today those who think they can save themselves and those who know that they cannot save themselves that only God can save and he chooses whom He will show mercy on as a gift not based on anything they did but by grace only He can save.

--------------------------------------------
[ 1 ]. Ronald H. Nash. Is Jesus the Only Savior? Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994: Pg. 11.
[ 2 ]. Ronald H. Nash. Is Jesus the Only Savior? Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994: Pg. 36.
[ 3 ]. Ibid. 56.
[ 4 ]. Ronald H. Nash. Is Jesus the Only Savior? Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994: Pg. 74

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