Christianity and Other Religions
The topic of “Christianity and Other Religions” is a very interesting subject discussed within Essentials of Christian Theology by William Placher 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 Placher and a couple of his colleagues/peers.
In Placher’s introduction of the four positions, or views, he begins with the “classic” he states. “The classic position of Christian theology, now often called exclusivism, was that those who remained non-Christian would all end up in hell (Placher, 300).” This is based on the beliefs of the early Catholic Church and their thoughts of what happened to not just pagans, but Schismatics, Jews, and Heritics 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 exclusivism 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 (Placher, 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 religious beliefs and practices with baptism into Christian life and practice (Placher, 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 exclusivists as the only truth and path to salvation and that is knowing Jesus Christ as God, and their Lord and Savior. 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? (Placher, 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 souls and their salvation? According to Bradley C. Hanson, Exclusivism, in his understanding of this view is fairly similar to the understandings of Placher’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 Barth had toward the view of exclusivism, “ The exclusivist outlook is very strong in conservative Christian circles, which include but are not limited to Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. The exclusivist position is clearly stated with only slight variation from Barth by the contemporary evangelical theologian Donald Bloesch: ‘Christianity will not tolerate the view that there are many revelations or various roads to salvation…In the Christian perspective, God has revealed himself fully and definitively 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 religions, 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...
Bibliography: Hanson, Bradley C. Introduction to Christian Theology. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1997.
Placher, Wiliam C. Essentials of Christian Theology. Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 2003.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document