The topic of “Christianity and Other Religions” Is a very Interesting subject discussed within Essentials of Christian Theology by William Placer and Introduction to Christian Theology by Bradley C. Hanson. Many struggle with the subject alongside theologians and remains to raise questions towards numerous aspects. However there are four positions held by Christians that are focused on in regards to truth and the possibility of salvation in other religions.
The four positions will be analyzed and the strengths and weaknesses of each position will be discussed according to the text. The first of the text we will use will be that of the thoughts of William Placer and a couple of his colleagues/peers, In Placer’s introduction of the four positions, or views, he begins with the “classic” he states. “The classic position of Christian theology, now often called exclusively, was that those who remained non-Christian would all end up in hell (Placer, 300). This is based on the beliefs of the early Catholic Church and their thoughts of what happened to not Just pagans, but Schismatic’s, Jews, and Heretics and how they are not able to attain the salvation that is provided through Christianity. According to Theologian Paul F. Knitter, he depicts these views as models and relates exclusively to the Replacement Model. Within the description of this model it is well understood when Knitter states, “God does not discriminate In God’s love and ‘desires everyone to be saved,’ but God offers this saving love through the ‘one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus (Placer, 307). Knitter also declares that even though Christians are to love others, even those of separate religions, Christians still walk with them In their day-to-day lives also doing their best to “replace their previous elisions beliefs and practices with abacus Into Christian life and practice (Placer, 307). ” For this is what many Christians believe their Job is, to “save” as many people as they can and bring them to what is known to exclusivity as the only truth and path to salvation and that is knowing Jesus Christ as God, and their Lord and Savior.
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Knitter also states that this way of thinking, “lags In openness. How can one be open to the possibility of learning from others when one already has the fullness of God’s truth? (Placer, 307)” This model faces a specific weakness because it promotes arrogant thinking in a sense that anyone who opposes the same thinking is false and will not attain salvation. Also there are others In this world that may never have the opportunity to hear about how a man named Jesus Christ lived their life so what would happen to their Socio and their salvation?
According to Bradley C. Hanson, Exclusively, in his understanding of this view is fairly similar to the understandings of Placer’s and Knitter’s In the aspect of, “outside the church there Is no salvation (Hanson, 314). ” Bradley points out some strengths in the ideas Karl Birth had toward he view of exclusively, ” The exclusivity outlook Is very strong in conservative Christian circles, which include but are not limited to Evangelicals and Fundamentalists.
The exclusivity position Is clearly stated with only slight variation from Birth by the contemporary evangelical theologian Donald Blesses: ‘Christianity will not tolerate the view that there are many revelations or various roads to 1 OFF in the person of Jesus Christ and has through his work made available to humankind an all- sufficient redemption. The truth of creation is indeed reflected in all world elisions, but the saving Gospel of reconciliation and redemption is to be found only in Christianity.
There are many roads by which man seeks to come to God, but there is only one road by which God comes to man, namely Jesus Christ. ” (Hanson, 316) This is stating that there is only one way to salvation and that one way is through Jesus Christ and by no other means, whatsoever. This still leaves the same weakness remaining of what would happen to the many who do not ever have the opportunity of learning about God or Jesus in vast areas not habituated where this information loud be known.
Also the weakness of arrogant thinking is still subject to discussion according to this view. This view also depicts harsh Judgment to those outside of the Christian perspective, it is not very popular among those who are not Christian but strictly popular to those who are conservative Christians, it implies that God has chosen not to make salvation for those who do not have the adequate knowledge to attain salvation, and most importantly it is not consistent with a perfectly loving God. The second view to be discussed, according to Placer firstly, will be Inclusive.
Placer states, “Inclusive, holds that non-Christians can achieve salvation by somehow believing and acting as Christians without realizing it, or by converting to faith in Christ at the moment of death or even after death. (Placer, 300)” Placer interprets this view to be a little less restrictive and it potentially allows others who act in the ways that Christians do, subconsciously sometimes, leading to possibly attaining salvation and there being possible truth in other religions if they are following the ways of Jesus Christ whether it is intentional or not, meaning if they now that it abides to Chrism’s life work or not.
Knitter replaces this view with the Fulfillment model. This model is somewhat similar to the Replacement model in the sense that in the end, “But what, for this model, is the ultimate purpose of dialogue? The answer is determined by the same nonnegotiable belief that guides the replacement model-Jesus as the one and only savior. ” Knitter does say there may possibly be allowance of other religions to partake in the salvation that God provides if, and only if, the religion has some sort of representation of Jesus Christ and the figure he depicts through his death and surjection providing salvation.
Knitter states, “they insist that it is only in Jesus that God’s gift of saving love is actually offered or constituted, and therefore only in Jesus that God’s truth is fully, finally, unassailable revealed. (Placer, 308)” Knitter then points out his opinion of where the view is weak leading to his question of how commitment and openness balance in this sense? Knitter believes that there has to be some line drawn to understand what can “Fulfill” the path to salvation. Where is the line where one can say that God is actively a part of this religion or not? These are some questions that would be asked of the weaknesses of this model.
Hansom’s interpretation of inclusive is that there may be truth in other religions, and there may be salvation through other religions, emphasizing on the term “maybe. ” Hansom’s idea of inclusive portrayed its strengths to be that this view is not Judgmental where as exclusively is and it allows dialogue with other religions. The reason this view is not Judgmental is because it potentially gives other religions understood through their way of thinking thus allowing dialogue with other religions. However the weaknesses of this view are much like the weaknesses of exclusively.
The main weakness is that it assumes Christianity to be true meaning you must know Jesus Christ or have a way to know how Jesus works through another religion in order to attain the salvation God is providing limiting the gift God has provided to only those who know about Jesus Christ. Thirdly, the Pluralism view according to Placer claims that, “They maintain that there is more than one way to achieve the goal to which human life should aim. Buddhists or Muslims can achieve salvation or some equivalent goal, not by turning UT to be anonymous Christians, but simply by being good Hindus, Buddhists or Muslims (Placer, 301). According to this view there is truth and ways to attain salvation through other religions. According to J. A. Dianna, a theologian, “In the pluralist perspective, therefore each religious founder must be regarded as in some sense a savior. Exclusive or unique status, with respect to the knowledge of, provision for, or access to, salvation can no more be claimed for Jesus of Nazareth, than it can be claimed for Augusta the Buddha or for Muhammad (Placer, 319). Dianna is not tempting to belittle these fugues of history, but Dianna wants to make sure that the reader understands Pluralism is allowing each of these individuals to provide a uniquely privileged or exclusive access to salvation as stated by Dianna. Dianna understands pluralism to claim that Jesus is not the only mediator of salvation. All religions end up being universally acceptable in the understanding that you may attend salvation through any religions and there is truth in all religions as well.
This however raises a discussion of what is salvation to two different religions? Buddhists, or example, do not wish to attain the same salvation that Christianity is hoping for. Buddhists strive for nirvana that in fact is a state of being while they are living, sort of an outer body experience one may say. The Christian interpretation of salvation comes after death, or one may hope. This salvation is being in the constant presence of God, where all your healthy desires are fulfilled and so on of what is perceived of the “Christian Afterlife. It is interesting how one may use a universal understanding like Pluralism however, to what extent is there allowed to be salvation according to he Pluralistic Christians if the comparing religions have two different goals? This view could also lead to a dangerous weakness that is subject to Pluralism called “Relativism. ” Relativism can be defined as simply as the “who cares” attitude. When one may begin saying that all paths lead to salvation, there is definitely no line drawn there to attempt to figure out what may or may not be acceptable and this is what is known as relativism.
This could definitely be a legitimate weakness to Pluralism. Hanson understands Pluralism to allow other religions to attain salvation and also here is truth in other religions. Hanson states, “the obvious fact that there is a plurality of religions in the world and a plurality of perspectives within each religion (Hanson, 318). ” Hansom’s opinion of Pluralism’s strengths is that salvation is open to all and it is non-confrontational. His view on its weakness is also that there is the likelihood of relativism becoming a factor. Lastly of the views is Inclusive Pluralism/ Pluralistic Inclusive.
This is a topic that was neither covered in Placer’s book nor Hansom’s, however this view should not be disregarded because of that. This views Christianity to be entirely correct. This view depicts other religions to may have truth to them but also other religions may be able to attain salvation. The emphasis in that statement is maybe, much like inclusive one would ask, “where is the line drawn for it to be true or not? ” There is one possible solution and that is to test it in what you may believe in and how you may believe God would go about things. Also a crucial factor to this view is experience.
For some, experience may “make or break” one’s salvation to be “true” to them or not. When people experience God, or omitting that is Just not quite explainable, it becomes surreal and some interpret that to “back-up” what they believe in or Just go about their lives still choosing not to believe in God, if that may be the case. Nonetheless, experiencing God, or works of God in ones life may be able to distinguish if one may or not hold their ideas to be true or not. Unfortunately what one may believe in leads to a potential weakness in this view, that is this view is very subjective to one’s interpretation of their beliefs.
Much like the relativism concept, people may or not believe that is right to live in a Godly manner or not. Some people will live on their lives not caring a bit for anything other than themselves and still think they will attain some sort of salvation Just by hearing of an excusable view such as this. It is unfortunate that one may use this view for the wrong reasons and go about in that demeanor. In my opinion, these views and their strengths and weaknesses are beyond intriguing to me and I have already tried to discuss these topics with a few around me.
In regards to exclusively, my only qualm with it is what happens to the thousands of Muslims or even tribes in areas we have not ventured to yet. I strongly disbelieve that a perfectly loving God would allow thousands of Muslims and people to die without a chance/opportunity to attain the salvation God has provided. God has to have some plan of how to be with those once they die but I do not see that they could not ever partake in salvation because they do not know Jesus Christ according to Exclusively.
This also supports dogmatic thinking because it teaches those to believe in their faith ignorantly and not humbly. An exclusivity would not want to give the time of day to listen to what someone, who would conflict with their own beliefs, would have to say if it remotely questioned their theology. The exclusivity would believe their theology is completely correct which I personally find to be rude and ignorant because no one is completely correct in their theology. As far as inclusive, I feel a little better about hearing the details of this view.
I respect that it is not nearly as Judgmental as exclusively because who are we to Judge who is right or wrong among religion? I would say that I understand this view and it to be true, that there is potential salvation in other religions and there is truth in other religions as long as Jesus Christ is in the center of t or may be a part of the notion inadvertently, but if the salvation are conflicting of interests and goals one may say, what would be the point of this?
In thoughts of Pluralism, I do admire the fact that it is not Judgmental at all due to the fact that it pertains to all religions having truth and being able to attain salvation. However, when relativism is brought forth in one’s demeanor, there is where the issue lies. This is an issue because if someone is living their life like a fool and dolling themselves through fame, status, and money and feel like they are doing great in life ND expect to take all that money with them in the end when in reality that is humans to live in that way unless they used all their money to help people in need.
Lastly in regards to Inclusive Pluralism/Pluralistic Inclusive, this one seemed to interest me very much so. I appreciated how it does not assume Christianity to be entirely correct, because who is to honestly say it is or not. I do in fact appreciate the weakness that is understood because this is truly subjective to one’s belief. It kind of is a “it is what you make it” type of idea as long as what you are trying to make it to be s valid. I do also like how you test the validity in this view.
This is to prevent relativism that is another potential weakness. If one is seriously testing if what they believe in abides to what God instructs us through Jesus Christ which is to love God and love your neighbor I think there may be some truth to that way of thinking and would assume salvation to become with it.