Don Richardson’s “Heaven Wins”

The “Inclusivist” Heresy & Richardson’s Background

With commentary by Sandy Simpson, 9/18/13


Background Information


Don Richardson was a missionary in New Guinea since 1962 where he first started experimenting with his ideas set forth in his book “Eternity in Their Hearts” such as finding a “supreme being” in indigenous cultures and then claiming they had always been worshipping the True God.  Please read our book refuting the ideas of Richardson and his friends in the WCGIP here.  Following is his bio from Wikipedia. 


Don Richardson (born 1935) is a Canadian Christian missionary, teacher, author and international speaker who worked among the tribal people of Western New Guinea, Indonesia.[1] He argues in his writings that, hidden among tribal cultures, there are usually some practices or understandings, which he calls "redemptive analogies", which can be used to illustrate the meaning of the Christian Gospel, contextualizing the biblical representation of the incarnation of Jesus.


Missionary career


Richardson studied at the Prairie Bible Institute and the Summer Institute of Linguistics. In 1962, he and his wife Carol and their seven-month-old baby went to work among the Sawi tribe of what was then Dutch New Guinea in the service of the Regions Beyond Missionary Union. The Sawi were known to be cannibalistic [2] headhunters. Living with them in virtual isolation from the modern world involved exposure to malaria, dysentery, and hepatitis, as well as the threat of violence.


In their new home in the jungle, the Richardsons set about learning the native Sawi language which was daunting in its complexity. There are 19 tenses for every verb. Don was soon able to become proficient in the dialect after a schedule of 8–10 hour daily learning sessions.


Richardson labored to show the villagers a way that they could comprehend Jesus from the Bible, but the cultural barriers to understanding and accepting this teaching seemed impossible until an unlikely event brought the concept of the substitutionary atonement of Christ into immediate relevance for the Sawi.


Missionary historian Ruth A. Tucker writes:


As he learned the language and lived with the people, he became more aware of the gulf that separated his Christian worldview from the worldview of the Sawi: "In their eyes, Judas, not Jesus, was the hero of the Gospels, Jesus was just the dupe to be laughed at." Eventually Richardson discovered what he referred to as a Redemptive Analogy that pointed to the Incarnate Christ far more clearly than any biblical passage alone could have done. What he discovered was the Sawi concept of the Peace Child.[3]


Three tribal villages were in constant battle at this time. The Richardsons were considering leaving the area, so to keep them there, the Sawi people in the embattled villages came together and decided that they would make peace with their hated enemies. Ceremonies commenced that saw young children being exchanged between opposing villages. One man in particular ran toward his enemy's camp and literally gave his son to his hated foe. Observing this, Richardson wrote: "if a man would actually give his own son to his enemies, that man could be trusted!" From this rare picture came the analogy of God's sacrifice of his own Son. The Sawi began to understand the teaching of the incarnation of Christ in the Gospel after Richardson explained God to them in this way.


Following this event many villagers converted to Christianity, a translation of the New Testament in Sawi was published, and nearly 2,500 Sawi patients were treated by Carol. The world's largest circular building made strictly from un-milled poles was constructed in 1972 as a Christian meeting place by the Sawi.[4]


The Richardsons then left the Sawi to be cared for by their own church elders and another missionary couple, while they went on to work on the analysis of the Auyu language.


In 1977 Don and his wife returned to North America, where he became a "minister-at-large" for his mission (now called World Team). Don also began teaching at the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, becoming Director of Tribal Peoples' Studies. He was instrumental in launching the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course under the auspices of USCWM. Richardson has continued to teach and travel broadly, speaking about "redemptive analogies" as a means to communicate the gospel message among tribal peoples and other cultures. His best-selling books have had a significant impact on missiology and ongoing Christian missionary work. (Emphasis added for this article)




Tucker (1983), p. 476-478

Tucker (1983), p. 476

Tucker (1983), p. 477

Tucker (1983), p. 478




Tucker, Ruth (1983). From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya A Biographical History of Christian Missions. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. ISBN 0-310-23937-0.



So as you can see Richardson was involved with Ralph D. Winter and C. Peter Wagner’s “US Center for World Mission”, part of AD2000 & Beyond and a precursor to the Lighthouse Movement and Mission America, since 1977.  C. Peter Wagner is the former head of the New Apostolic Reformation and the lead apostle in the International Coalition of Apostles who said of himself that he is a foundational apostle like James.


Apostles and prophets the foundation of the Church and, um, I identify as James an apostle as my function as a horizontal apostle to bring together the people of the body of Christ not only can I do it, I love to do it. Yesterday I was the apostle with a group of about 15-20 prophets we met all day long, and these prophets many of whom are going to be speakers in this conference come under my guidance, coordination and leadership as an apostle. They each have apostles in their own networks but I mean they are under spiritually.  But I'm the one that brings them together and when I bring them together things happen. (C. Peter Wagner, National School of the Prophets - Mobilizing the Prophetic Office, Colorado Springs, CO, May 11, 2002, Tape #1)


Get our 6-DVD series “The New Apostolic Reformation – What it is and where it is going?” to see Wagner making this statement.  Wagner proved he is a false apostle with the statement above as he is claiming to have equal authority to the twelve foundational apostles.


2 Cor. 11:12-15  And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.


Heaven Wins


Richardson has a new book where he is now also revealing that he is a neo-Universalist (which he calls Inclusivism), claiming many will be in heaven where the Bible does not.


Matt. 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.'s newest book!

HEAVEN WINS: Heaven, Hell and the Hope of Every Person

Who will be saved? Who will be lost?


The past few years have seen the release of several high-profile books, including Love Wins (Rob Bell) and God Wins (Mark Galli), that attempt to clarify what the Bible teaches about the ultimate destiny of individuals after this life. Don Richardson believes the arguments posed by these authors do not account for all the biblical evidence. In Heaven Wins, the bestselling author of Peace Child and Eternity in Their Hearts [both sold on the "Books" link of this site] offers a faith-enhancing, scripturally grounded perspective that changes everything.


Are a majority of people destined for hell, as many Christians assume, or will heaven harvest the greater part of mankind? Could it be that the good news is even better and more expansive than we have dared to hope?


The answer may surprise you!


The book carries the following endorsement: "I heartily recommend this book both as a challenge from a contemporary missionary statesman and as a biblical support for human decisions in missions." --Andrew C. Bowling, Ph.D., Faculty Emeritus, John Brown University; and Former Faculty, Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics. (


In this new book Richardson comes up with a new class between Exclusivists (those who hold to Christ being the only Way to salvation) and Universalists (those who believe everyone will be saved) which he calls “Inclusivists”.  


Inclusivism: Whereas Exclusivists regard general revelation as informative only and special revelation as both informative and salvific, Inclusivists, by contrast, regard general revelation as both informative and salvific and special revelation as even mere deeply informative and even more effectively and widely salvific! (Don Richardson, Heaven Wins)


How can something be “even more … salvific”?  Isn’t salvation either salvific or non-salvific?  I’m sorry to be so blunt but has Richardson lost the use of his left brain?


In actuality, then, there is virtually no difference between Universalism and “Inclusivism” because according to both systems everyone will be saved based on the “general revelation” they know, which the Bible says everyone knows (Rom. 1:19-20).  But this knowledge is nowhere in the Bible said to be “salvific”.  In fact, in context, Rom. 1 is talking about the reason why people are NOT saved by general revelation because they long ago abandoned even the knowledge of God (Rom. 1:28). What the Bible says about the criteria to be saved has not changed and is everywhere in the New Testament.  Jesus Christ made it plain that you must know and believe in Him alone in order to gain eternal life.


John 14:6  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Acts 4:12  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”


This “Inclusivism” then constitutes a denial of a core doctrine of the Faith: “Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.”  When a person teaches otherwise, such as Richardson, and denies any one of the core doctrines, he is to be considered a heretic and rejected (Rom. 16:17, Titus 3:10).


Don Richardson and his WCGIP followers have been claiming you can be saved by worshipping your own cultural “supreme being”.  But the Bible states over and over that the gospel message was a mystery to the Gentiles and that the Gentiles do not know God (Gal. 4:8, 1 Cor. 1:21, 1 John 3:1, Rom. 1:28, 1 Thess. 4:5, Ephesians 2:12-13, 2 Thess. 1:8), therefore they cannot be saved without hearing the Gospel (Acts 16:31, Rom. 10:14). 


The blasphemy of Richardson, the WCGIP, the Emergent Church, the NAR and other apostate movements and individuals is that they are teaching that you can be saved through your cultural religion which they claim was “created” by God. 


"Christians should cease representing Jesus as the Son of the foreign God of a foreign people, especially if these foreigners had never shown concern for nor had any involvement in the lives or culture of the natives. God lovingly created them in the beginning never left them without a witness and, in his great love for them, even sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for them!" [Daniel Kikawa, Perpetuated in Righteousness, 4th edition, p. 27, cited in Idolatry In Their Hearts by Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer)


The bases for Richardson’s “Inclusivist” views are clearly not the Bible but his own book and books by others in the WCGIP as well as blasphemous translations of the Bible including the names of false gods placed there by a number of translation societies, such as the use of “Allah” in most Arabic Bibles.