If you want to witness the gross abuse of the term, “inclusivism,” in the hands of a conservative evangelical blogger, then read this post from Trevin Wax of Kingdom People, a blog with a fairly sizable readership.
Does the following sound accurate?
An increasing number of evangelicals find the “inclusivist” view of salvation appealing. This view maintains the traditional Christian belief that “Jesus is the only way to God” while denying the necessity of placing personal conscious faith in Christ for salvation. In other words, there is the possibility that other religious paths lead ultimately to God through Christ, even if the adherents never profess faith in Christ.
What? “Other religious paths”? So, according to Trevin, an inclusivist believes that a Buddhist by way of his Buddhism may be saved, or a Muslim by way of his Islam may be saved, or a Hindu by way of his Hinduism may be saved. Is this actually what inclusivists are saying? Would most inclusivists articulate it this way? Of course not, but a nuanced and responsible articulation of the inclusivist position is not nearly as effective.
An evangelical inclusivist is more likely to say that the Hinduism (etc.), as with the Law, is often an indolatrous hindrance to be overcome by God’s electing grace. Such a grace can convert and bring repentance, relinquishing the dependence on oneself and the idols that serve man’s pride instead of love. Such a grace can bring light to the understanding, the light that Noah and Job received apart from the Temple and apart from the knowledge of Christ. Yet, this light is Christ: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. …The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” (John 1: 4, 9). That is where the inclusivist begins: with Christ and with grace.
As a side note, if a “personal conscious faith in Christ” is such an absolute condition for salvation, then how is the infant saved or the severely mentally handicapped saved? Even though he rightly believes in original sin (i.e., we are sinners before we actually sin), the exclusivist recognizes that such indomitable barriers, for receiving Christ with “personal conscious faith,” do not limit God’s grace from reaching the infant or handicapped. If the exclusivist is willing to admit such non-normative means for salvation, then the inclusivist position is hardly much of a stretch.