Chart on the Unevangelized

Five Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelized  Dr. John Sanders

All five of these views agree that Jesus is the only Savior.
                                                              Four  Forms of Exclusivism
Restrictivism (Ecclessiocentrism)
Universal Opportunity Before Death
Postmortem Evangelism
God does not provide salvation to those who fail to hear of Jesus and come to faith in him before they die.
All people are given opportunity to be saved by (1) God’s sending the gospel (e.g. by angels or dreams) or (2) at the moment of death or (3) by middle knowledge.
The unevangelized receive an opportunity to believe in Jesus after death. Must accept the gospel to be saved.
All people will in fact embrace the gospel of Jesus.  No one is damned forever since God has “no permanent problem children.”
The unevangelized may be saved if they respond in faith to God based on the revelation they have. (Only view that says knowledge of Jesus is not necessary for salvation.)
Key Texts:
John 14:6
Acts 4:12
1 John 5:11-12
Key Texts:
Daniel 2
Acts 8
Key Texts:
John 3:18
1 Peter 3:18-4:6
Ephesians 4:8-10
Key Texts:
Romans 5:18
1 Corinthians 15:22-28
1 John 2:2
Key Texts:
1 Timothy 4:10
Acts 10:34-35
John 12:32
John Calvin
Jonathan Edwards
Carl Henry
Ronald Nash
Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals
James Arminius (1)
J. Oliver Buswell Jr. (1)
Norman Geisler (1)
John Henry Newman (2)
Ladislaus Boros (2)
Donald Lake (3)
William Lane Craig (3)
Doug Geivett (3)
Clement of Alexandria
George MacDonald
Donald Bloesch
George Lindbeck
Stephen Davis
Gabriel Fackre
Gregory of Nyssa
F. E. Schleiermacher
G. C. Berkouwer
Thomas Talbott
Karl Barth (“hoped” for it)
Many Eastern Orthodox
Justin Martyr
Thomas Aquinas
John Wesley
C. S. Lewis
Clark Pinnock
Dominant view in Roman Catholicism and  mainline Protestantism
For discussion of each see John Sanders No Other Name (Eerdmans, 1992) and Sanders editor,  What About Those Who’ve Never Heard? (IVP, 1995),

John Sanders

John E. Sanders is an American theologian who is a professor of religious studies at Hendrix College. He has published on four main topics: (1) open theism, (2) Christian views on the salvation of non-Christians, (3) Christian views on the nature of hell, and (4) applying cognitive linguistics to theology.

2 replies
  1. Joshua Wu
    Joshua Wu says:

    Hi there Dr Sanders, I would like to enquire if you have any citation by G.C. Berkouwer indicating that he was a proponent of universalism. As far as I am aware, he was a strong critic of Karl Barth’s view of election which the former believed lead to universalism. It would seem strange then that he is classified as a universalist.


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