When I wrote Who Can Be Saved?, every little thing I had study by William Lane Craig concerning his Molinist understanding of the circumstance of the unevangelized fell inside the gospel exclusivist position. (See my “Typology of Positions Regarding the Salvation of the Unevangelized.”) At that time, he posited that “God in his providence so arranged the globe that these who never ever in reality hear the gospel are persons who would not respond to it if they did hear it” (The Only Sensible God, pp. 150-51). What I was hearing him say then is that know-how of the gospel is vital to salvation, but that we have to have not be troubled by fears that some persons are eternally lost mainly because the church had failed to get the gospel to them. Even if we had taken the gospel to them, they would have been lost.
I cited Craig’s position concerning the salvation of the unevangelized, in the chapter in which I was asking: “Can Men and women Be Saved if They Only Have Basic Revelation?” (Who Can Be Saved?, pp. 138-64), and I did not, at that time, hear Craig affirming that this would be doable. Hearing the gospel was deemed vital for saving faith, but God chose to actualize a globe in which everybody who would think if they heard the gospel, does hear it.
Regardless of whether Craig has changed his position considering that my book was published, or no matter whether I had merely failed to come across a various viewpoint than I had encountered in my reading of his operate, I do not know. But, I can say that I am delighted to have study yesterday his answer to the “question of the week,” on July eight, 2018 (“Q&A #586 Middle Expertise and the Essentialism of Origins.”) What I study there indicates that Craig does not now belong in the category of gospel exclusivism, but he affirms “universal revelation accessibilism.” (By “accessibilism,” I imply the belief that each and every human becoming receives divine revelation that is adequate for salvation, mainly because the faith that is instrumental in justifying sinners is acceptable to the revelation which God has provided of himself to an person.)
As the title of the Q&A indicates, the salvation of the unevangelized is not the concern which was becoming discussed, but it is the instance cited in raising the query of the essentialism of origins. It is not my objective to get into that unique discussion. Rather, I want to draw consideration to Craig’s clear affirmation of the doable salvation of persons who acquire no far more than God’s universal revelation. God’s universal revelation, in other words, is adequate for salvation, if a single responds to it with the faith which is acceptable to such revelation. I see that faith clearly delineated in Romans 1:21. This puts him firmly outdoors of the gospel exclusivist camp, and I am delighted that he holds this view, considering that I myself am a convinced accessibilist (a term, incidentally, which I appropriated from Craig (“Politically Incorrect Salvation,” in Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern Globe, p. 84).
In his answer to the query of the week, Craig states: “There may perhaps be persons who never ever hear the Gospel and are saved by way of their response to God’s basic revelation in nature and conscience alone, but who would also have accepted the Gospel (had they heard it) and been saved.” He posits that “there may perhaps be persons who never ever hear the Gospel but who would have accepted it, had they heard it.” Some theologians have drawn on Molinism to assert a position I get in touch with “Molinist accessibilism,” but Craig is not taking that route. For this I congratulate him. Rather than affirming that God saves persons by way of a faith they do not have but would have had if they had received adequate revelation, Craig asserts that the revelation God provides of himself to everybody, is adequate to elicit actual saving faith, if it is the only signifies by which God tends to make himself identified to a individual.
So, Craig now proposes “that persons who never ever hear the Gospel and reject basic revelation would not have accepted the Gospel even had they heard it” but, as noted above, such persons are not inevitably lost mainly because of the inadequacy of their know-how of God. If all God tends to make identified of himself to some persons is his self-revelation by way of his inventive operate and the human conscience, salvation is nonetheless doable.
The principle I see at operate right here is that, though the new covenant has been instituted by way of the death of Christ, God does not need new covenant faith from persons who do not acquire new covenant revelation. God judges persons according to the covenant below which they reside existentially (even though not historically), and salvation was normally doable by faith below each and every covenant. The faith God needs is determined by the covenant below which a single lives, and that is determined by the revelation God has created identified to an person.
Craig may possibly not state his present position in the way I have just completed, but what he does clearly affirm is constant with that framework, and I am delighted to see this.