Sunday, January 27, 2008

Announcing: 'A Theology of Inclusivism' by Neal Punt

I’d like to let Thinking Christian readers know of the imminent publication of a highly significant book. To do that, I have reproduced the author’s latest email promoting the book. I have been reading Neal Punt’s work since I first read an article by him in an ancient Christianity Today article. I have read all his books up until now. His perspective on salvation is an absolute must for consideration by all thinking Christians! Although I don’t necessarily agree with everything Neal says, his basic thesis and supporting biblical premises have truly taught me how the gospel is really about grace. I highly recommend Neal’s writings. Make sure you check out the Related Links at the end of the reproduced email. Please note that I have reformatted Neal’s post to be consistent with my blog’s formatting. I hope you don’t mind, Neal!

The new book A Theology of Inclusivism (265 pages) by Neal Punt, with a forward by Dr Richard J Mouw (see it below), President of Fuller Theological Seminary, will soon appear (7 February 2008) ISBN: 978-0-945315-46-9


’This will be one of the most important publications of our time. Not necessarily an easy read, but clear. I absorbed his previous book What’s Good About the Good News? and it changed my entire perspective about salvation-while answering many questions I had never been able to resolve’ (Don Hawley, 18 January 2008) The following endorsements relate to the book What’s Good About the Good News? [also by Neal Punt.] This new book, A Theology of Inclusivism, is based on the same biblical facts: Dr F F Bruce: ’I read your book What’s Good About the Good News? with great interest. Your position is very much my own. Your exposition of the subject is thoroughly in line with the insight: "Admittedly Christ is much more powerful to save than Adam was to ruin."’ ’I wish your work a wide circulation; it will stimulate much fresh thought on this important subject.’ Dr Henry Stob: ’This book is stimulating, instructive, and true to the gospel. Neal Punt is to be commended for opening up the Scriptures in a new and exciting way.’ Dr Lewis Smedes: ’I want to tell you that I admire what you are doing and am thankful for it. You are rescuing us from dogmatic determinism and saving us from presumptuous universalism. Your mission is needed and can only do us much good.’ Dr Lester DeKoster (Former editor of The Banner and life-long student of John Calvin): ’Pastor Neal Punt has skillfully shifted the focus of a long disputed doctrine in his What’s Good About The Good News? He has made what is too often speculative theology into a pastoral admonition applicable to all. Salvation is validated in obedience to the will of God; this is the fruit of election. Disobedience is the deliberate and willful rejection of God’s will. Persistent disobedience finds its ultimate consequence in damnation.’ ’Except for such as persistently defy God’s will, the Bible teaches that Christ’s atoning sacrifice is for all. Thus in Punt’s hands the old election/reprobation tension is resolved into a positive call for the truly Christian life.’ Dr Edward Wm Fudge: ’Are people lost unless saved, or saved unless lost? Neal Punt offers compelling scriptural evidence for the second statement. This simple (but profound) shift in vision magnifies God’s grace, highlights Christ’s atonement, encourages evangelism, helps bridge the gap between Calvinists and Arminians and generates an authentic welcoming spirit toward those who do not yet know Christ. Evangelical Inclusivism is a study that will enrich your heart and mind.’ Dr Neal Plantinga, Jr:What’s Good About the Good News? presents a generous and thoughtful perspective on the gospel. More important, it offers a spacious and impressive portrait of God. My impression is that it has already done some good in provoking fresh thinking about the ways and means of salvation -- and especially about the character of God.’ Dr Alexander C DeJong: ’When one tries to explicate with theological precision the gracious character, the God-glorifying content, the eschatological urgency of gospel preaching, together with the biblical warrant for that preaching, he understakes a demanding task. Punt adds a fresh, important, and attractive dimension to the continuing discussion. We owe it to ourselves to consider seriously this unique contribution of Rev. Punt.’ Pastor Robert J Wieland: ’This Good News premise comes across from Punt’s pages like a fresh wind that almost take one’s breath away. But the Biblical evidence which he marshals is impressive, and strongly suggests that the apostles turned their world upside down with a Gospel that contained considerably better Good News than our version of it convey today.’ ’Here is a book that will challenge keen theologians; but it is so clearly and simply written that it will also warm the hearts of lay readers. That too is very good news.’ Retail Price - $14.95 plus $3.50 S & H, total $18:45.

  • Discount if ordered directly from Northland Books: Single copy 20% off retail, $11.96 plus $3.00 S & H total $14.96 if you live in US.
  • Single copy plus $5.00 S & H (air) to Canada, total $16.96.
  • Single copy plus $11.55 S & H (air) to Australia, total $23.51.
  • Single copy plus $12.00 S & H (air) to England, total $23.96.

Multiple copies:

  • 2 to 9 copies, 30% off retail, $10:46 per book plus S & H ?, (ask for quote).
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  • Foreword by Dr. Richard J. Mouw
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 The So-called "Universalistic"Texts
  • Chapter 2 Those Who Will Be Finally Lost
  • Chapter 3 All Are . . . Some Are Not
  • Chapter 4 Objective and Subjective Salvation
  • Chapter 5 Isn’t Faith Necessary?
  • Chapter 6 Back To The Early Church
  • Chapter 7 One Bible For All People
  • Chapter 8 Motivation For Missions Or Why Preach?
  • Chapter 9 The Message Of Missions Chapter 10 Grace Proclaimed Before Confession Is Heard
  • Chapter 11 The Christian Reformed Church’s View Of All
  • Those Who Will Be Lost
  • Chapter 12 Evangelical Inclusivism In The Old Testament
  • Chapter 13 1 Timothy 4:10 Misused
  • Chapter 14 Examining the So-called "Universalistic" Texts
  • Chapter 15 A Segment Of Protestant Inclusivism
  • Chapter 16 John Calvin’s "Unlimited" Atonement
  • Chapter 17 Will Only Covenant Members Be Saved?
  • Chapter 18 It Makes A Difference
  • Chapter 19 Restoring Hell by Dr. Edward Fudge
  • Chapter 20 The Need For Self-Esteem
  • Chapter 21 Tiessen’s "Accessibilism"
  • Chapter 22 Will Only A Few Be Saved?
  • Chapter 23 Responding To Christian Renewal
  • Chapter 24 The 1985 Heresy Trial
  • Chapter 25 Christianity Today Article


Several years ago I heard a lecture by the Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama, in which he observed that we all need to make a basic decision in our approach to theological questions. Either we assume, he said, "a stingy God or a generous God." This was a helpful insight for me. It is not difficult to find passages in both the Bible and the Reformed confessions where it seems like we are being given a picture of a divine stinginess. But there are also many passages where we are provided with wonderful promises of divine generosity. The question for those of us, who take the Scriptures as the infallible Word from God, while also viewing the Reformed confessional documents as reliable guides to the teachings of that Word, is this: how do we square the stingy-sounding passages with the generous-sounding ones? Neal Punt’s writings have been a marvelous gift to those of us in the Calvinistic tradition who take our stand on the side of divine generosity. And, truth be told, his treatment of the texts has also been a gift of sorts to those who disagree with him. One theologian who has been severely critical of those of us whom he sees as going too far in the direction of generosity once confided to me that he has learned much from wrestling with the challenges posed by Neal Punt. "He helps to keep people like me honest," he confessed. In my own case, Neal Punt hasn’t just kept me honest. He has helpfully instructed me in the truth by convincing me that he has the right "take" on the basics of Reformed theology. I have never been able to embrace the kind of universalism that teaches that all human beings will be saved in the end. That sort of theology is simply impossible for me to square with the biblical message. But I do want to leave a lot of theological room for the mysterious ways of a God who has promised that where sin abounds grace much more abounds. Punt has helped me to stay within the bounds of biblical orthodoxy while relying on the promises of an abundant divine generosity. Reverend Punt has never been one who is content to consign the stinginess-generosity dilemma to the area of "tensions" and "paradoxes." While pointing us to the grace-abounding strains in the Scriptures, he has also struggled mightily-some would say indefatigably-with all of those texts that might seem on the face of it to be a problem for his view. I will never forget, for example, the sense of profound relief I experienced when I finished reading for the first time his treatment of the Matthew 7: 13-14 passage about the broad road that leads to the destruction versus the narrow path that only a few will find. Not only did his careful exposition convince me that there is a way of fitting this into an overall generosity perspective, but I actually sensed that he had laid out the most plausible interpretation of that passage in its context. In this important book, Neal Punt puts it all together. He summarizes the work of many decades of formulating his case, and he also gives a fair and careful account of the objections that others have lodged against the perspective that he has developed. As I write this I have just read a report of a public poll taken of the younger generation’s attitudes toward Christianity. The majority of those questioned view Christianity as a narrow-minded, mean-spirited religion. In this book Neal Punt sets forth the perspective that can correct that perception. I hope that his case for a generous God shapes the minds and hearts of many! Richard J. Mouw President and Professor of Christian Philosophy Fuller Theological Seminary Related Links


  1. I am very much interested in reading this book after the reading the above commentary. I am however, cautious about an inclusivist gospel that builds it's foundation on defending claims of "norrow-mindedness". The gospel is not an accomodating gospel in that it must appease and be re-evaluated based upon contemporary charges. The appeal to grace is a commonly misapplied comprehension of who God is and how He interacts with His children. We must understand that His grace is not a wildcard to use in light of difficult arguments. Yes, God is gracious but He is also intentional and if we assume to apply grace in all circumstances and use it as the guiding rule for the Gospel message that when can end up in a very unintentional, lazy, passive and abusive view of God and our rule and accountability to Him.

  2. You might be interested in reading my book on inclusivism. Its just out with Wipf and Stock.