I finished Miles’s book and sat down to start reading Neal Punt’s “A Theology of Inclusivism.” I actually wanted to read it sooner, but other magnificent research reading got in the way (thanks so much, Dr. Ken Keathley--- smile!).
I read the first couple of chapters and then stumbled onto chapter 5, titled “Isn’t Faith Necessary?”. Regarding faith and its role in salvation, Punt writes:
“But, strange as it may seem, none of these Spirit-directed activities are a prescription or prerequisite for our union with Christ, not even faith” (“A Theology of Inclusivism.” Allendale: Northland Books, 2008, page 54).
According to Punt, faith is not a “prerequisite,” or pre-requirement, for salvation.
Punt’s language becomes more emphatic with these words:
“None of these human activities, not even faith, is a requirement or condition for salvation...” (54)
Faith has been labeled as a “prerequisite” (from the statement above) and a “condition” for salvation. Punt states that faith is not a requirement to be met before salvation, so he clearly espouses the Calvinist notion of regeneration (that is, that regeneration comes before faith). God first regenerates, and then the person excercises faith, which, for Punt, is a “fruit not a condition” (see pg. 49).
And why is it that faith cannot come before regeneration?
“Any requirement or condition for salvation would be incompatible with the undeniable fact that by Adam’s transgression, he and his descendants became ‘dead’ in sin, not merely weak or sick (Eph. 2:1)” (55).
So there can be no conditions for salvation, not even faith. Punt has confirmed this so far.
But he doesn’t “punt”; rather, he “fumbles” when it comes to his next section, “The Urgency of Faith.” Punt writes:
“It appears that if nothing else, faith is one prerequisite, condition, or requirement for salvation” (56).
But his statement made on page 56 contradicts what he wrote on pages 49, 54, 55, etc. On the surface, to say “faith is not a condition for salvation” (54) and then turn around and say “faith is a condition for salvation” is to make contradictory or opposing statements. To say the latter statement signals to Punt’s readers that he has negated the former statement.
The question I pose to Neal Punt is, “Is faith a condition for salvation or not?”. And this is a question that only Neal Punt can answer for himself. I will return with more to say about Neal Punt’s work. Stay tuned...