The Fate of the Unevangelized: A New Typology in Place of Pluralism, Inclusivism, Exclusivism

The final fate of the unevangelized—those who through no fault of their own never receive the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ—is a key issue in the soteriological problem of evil. The traditional view of the Church has been that those who put their faith in Christ will experience salvation, while those who have not will experience eternal, conscious torment in hell. However, wider hope theories can also be found throughout church history and have especially prevailed during modernity. The last few decades have seen the threefold typology of pluralism, inclusivism, and exclusivism widely accepted when speaking on the fate of the unevangelized, especially in evangelical circles. However, the threefold typology has increasingly become perceived as an inadequate paradigm with which to represent positions on the fate of the unevangelized. My paper presented at ETS’s 2022 annual meeting examined the origins of the threefold typology and gave specific critiques demonstrating its inadequacy. This proposed paper will present a new typology in place of the threefold typology of pluralism, inclusivism, and exclusivism. The new typology will not only better account for the diversity of views seen in evangelicalism today but will also be more conducive to evangelical soteriology. It will begin with core axioms of salvation which will eliminate unorthodox beliefs (such as pluralism) and will help frame the conservation about the fate of the unevangelized in a manner acceptable to evangelicals who affirm the authority of Scripture. The different positions in the typology will then be organized using key questions. It will avoid the problems seen in the original threefold typology and will use different terms than those of the original (pluralism, inclusivism, exclusivism), as these terms have become weighted with many presuppositions, both positive and negative. It will also seek to avoid problematic aspects of other proposed typologies, such as complexity which renders a typology inaccessible those who are not experts in the debate. The hope for this paper will be to give evangelicals a better framework for understanding and discussing the fate of the unevangelized.

4 thoughts on “The Fate of the Unevangelized: A New Typology in Place of Pluralism, Inclusivism, Exclusivism”

  1. Where’s the beef?
    Seems like the proposed new and better typology ought to be specified here, if the author really has a better one to propose. I like supporting contrarian papers, but they need to demonstrate that they’re not just taking potshots at prevailing modes of thought.

  2. I am biased toward this one
    The paper presents a proposed typology that improves upon the relatively recent one. Since this is my student, I feel uncomfortable rating his work in this format. Since Samuel is a full member, I understand that he does not need a professor’s endorsement. I do endorse this paper. I’ve read it; it’s from his nearly competed dissertation.


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