A Book Analysis of “Is Jesus the Only Savior”
Chapters 1-6: Pluralism by Ronald H. Nash
Justin W. Cullen
July 29, 2012
Ronald H. Nash begins his book responding the position of pluralism in regards to the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, mainly directed at John Hick, who was a leading proponent of pluralism until his death earlier this year. Nash was an evangelical Baptist theologian and apologist, who subscribed to the Calvinist tradition. Within his book, Nash tackles several of Hick’s arguments relating to the pluralism and universality of Christianity. Nash reveals in chapters 1-6, the evolution of Hick’s philosophy of pluralism and understanding of pluralism, which conflicts with the Christian’s view of the exclusivity Jesus Christ. Nash’s views within his book are orthodox and consistent with a reformed understanding of Christian Theology. The first six chapters of Nash’s book create an argument against pluralism, however, if the reader does not possess a basic understanding of theology or philosophy the material used by Nash can be difficult to understand.
Nash begins with discussing the early stage John Hick’s pluralism, which he reveals Hick’s initial ideas on pluralism that were in response to the old, outdated Christian exclusivism. Hick’s believes this view of Christianity can be related to the Ptolemy view of the universe. A Ptolemy view of the universe states that the earth is at the center, and the planets or all celestial bodies revolve around the earth. A Ptolemy view of Christianity places Christianity at the center of all other world religions. Hick believes that an all-loving God would reject the Ptolemaic understanding of Christianity and deny its exclusivity. Nash refutes Hick’s notion of an all-loving God within his development of pluralism. Furthermore, Nash relates that by knowing the properties of God, such as His love, Hick’s creates a situation in which this God will clash with the properties of other gods and thus this situation does not fit into his philosophy of pluralism. Nash logically states that the gods of other religions will conflict with this attribute possessed by this definition. Hick’s definition of love is based on a biblical view of the Love of God, which creates a personal view of God. Moreover, Nash concludes that if Hick places a personal view on his God then this will equivalency conflict with other world religious views of an impersonal review of God, such as in pantheism. God cannot be both personal and impersonal at the same time. He can be either one or the other, but since one attribute contradicts the other attribute then God cannot logically be both. Nash argues when Hick’s creates a God that is all loving, both personal and impersonal, and unknowable he either contradicts his own ideologies of God or excludes other religious worldviews, which contradicts his own beliefs in pluralism. “Instead of this pluralism flowing logically from a set of plausible premises, the reverse seems to have been the case.”
Nash relates within the second stage of Hick’s pluralism, he shifts to a salvation-centered model of thinking, which is based off the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Kant was an eighteenth century humanist philosopher whose work was on rationalism and empirical thought. Hick adopts the idea of a noumenal god and a phenomenal God, which Hick believes real God is miss-represented by different world religions. Hick’s philosophy begins to evolve in to a form of universalism in which each believer in a religious system develops his or her own meanings or path for salvation. “What Hick calls “salvation” assumes different forms in the different major religions.” However, this form of thinking is also flawed, according to Nash, because it stretches the definition of salvation into something unrecognizable. Of course, Hick uses no biblical reference points to affirm his use of this salvation and his...