Zwingli – The 16th Century Rob Bell?

Huldrych Zwingli
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I think Bell’s questions are fair, as they reflect the rather glib approach to these matters that too many evangelicals assume, at least at a popular level. With respect to the first question, the possibility that God’s grace may be wider than the visible Church is hardly unique to Bell. It is maintained by a wide assortment of religious inclusivists (like Pinnock and Rahner) who maintain that while Jesus is the sole source of salvation, grace is still available through channels other than the Bible, the sacraments and Christian preaching. This position is not far from that expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which does not exclude from the possibility of salvation those who “through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church” (para. 847). “Through no fault of their own” can embrace a wide variety of circumstances, and it allows for people who may know “of” Christ and his Church (different from knowing Christ and his Church), but for various reasons do not come to a saving acceptance of grace prior to death. And the charitable Christian hope (and that is all that orthodoxy can express) for the eventual salvation of all or at least many human souls who die outside the Church is found (with different emphases and details) in Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Ulrich Zwingli, some of the Anabaptist Radical Reformers, Karl Barth, C. S. Lewis, Thomas Torrance, and (with more caution) Richard Mouw and the late Donald Bloesch.

via Love Wins by Rob Bell: A Reformed Scholar’s Review by Dr. Paul Owen – sbc tomorrow.

Thanks to Craig Adams for this, via Facebook.

I am unsure as to the points which the reviewer makes about Zwingli, but wouldn’t it be interesting if we had a blogger who was an expert in all things Zwingli, who, you know, could possibly shed light on what Dr. Owen is speaking about…?

Did Zwingli really make room in heaven for those who didn’t know Christ? And what does God have to say about that?

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9 Replies to “Zwingli – The 16th Century Rob Bell?”

  1. We do, but it seems that death, while not at his door, had been at the end of his driveway. Hopefully, he will be feeling well enough to comment. (Note: I did not say his comment would be gentle or nice-lol).

  2. If you want a discussion of Zwingli’s views on salvation outside the Church, you might consult Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. VIII, in the section on the “Theology of Zwingli.”

  3. you need a better class of readers joel. one doesn’t know that schaff’s summary of zwinglis theology is tremendously outdated and incomplete and the other doesn’t know that zwingli was the FIRST swiss reformer and that calvin was SECOND generation.

    as to your point- simply- no, zwingli was NOT a universalist. but in line with romans 1-2, he believed that God could, and would, save those who had never heard of Christ if they had the sort of faith which God found pleasing or acceptable.

  4. Sigh. Jim. After brushing Schaff aside with the sweep of a hand (he is still an excellent source for historical theology, who had meticulous first-hand familiarity with the primary materials), your second paragraph concedes the only point of relevance here in the first place! I never said Zwingli was a universalist strictly speaking. His views were unusually open toward the salvation of people outside the Church by the standards of his day though.

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