archive-org.com » ORG » D » DIRECTIONJOURNAL.ORG

Total: 1247

Choose link from "Titles, links and description words view":

Or switch to "Titles and links view".
  • Direction: From the Editors: Mission and Pluralism
    one way to God How do Christians deal with the claims by other religions that their way of belief and practice secures salvation And how is salvation defined Gordon Nickel seminary teacher in Pakistan reports on some grass roots thinking about the Islamic approach to salvation Gordon has moved beyond the on the street interview and has helpfully and extensively laid out the views from the academic side of the question R S Lemuel an Indian church leader reports on how Hindus have and currently do interpret salvation With the stage set by these views about religion in Asia Victor Adrian sorts out some of the options now proposed in addressing religious pluralism Delbert Wiens brings further biblical material to bear although more obliquely from Stephen s sermon in Acts A bibliographical essay by Walter Unger is helpful in directing Christians to books in which different answers are given to the agenda posed by religious pluralism At a practical level Harold Ens and Frances Hiebert speak to the issues of mission partnership and unity A new feature is a section headed Faith and Learning Here instructors from the supporting schools tell how they go about their task This issue of

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/editorial.html (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Direction: Islam and Salvation: Some On-Site Observations
    treatise on the virtues of salat cites traditions in which Muhammad promises forgiveness of sins expiation and protection against Allah s wrath for performing the prayer 22 Another common good work of Muslims is calling down blessing upon Muhammad This practice is commanded only once in the Qur an at 33 56 Allah and His Angels send blessing on the Prophet O ye that believe Send ye blessing on him and salute him with all respect But at some point it became an obligatory part of the salat and was reinforced by traditions which promised great rewards for its performance 23 Thus today the most common sign on the streets of Karachi is an Arabic prayer addressed to Muhammad Peace and blessings be upon you O Apostle of Allah Constance Padwick calls this tasliya the commonest of phrases on Muslim lips the commonest of phrases in Muslim books where some form of it follows every mention of the Prophet of Islam the commonest of phrases in Muslim devotion whether it be as the sole and sufficing subject of whole books or whether it be as the sudden conclusion applied to prayers and praises of the most various character 7 24 ALLAH S WILL AND MUHAMMAD S INTERCESSION The discussion within Islam of the way in which faith and works will be evaluated on the Judgment Day has developed into an elaborate eschatology of rewards and punishments 25 Muslims typically speak of the Judgment Day in the language of merit thawaab and reckoning hisaab There is the strong anticipation of an exact accounting in which good deeds will be weighed off against bad deeds on a scale One Muslim scholar after completing a thesis on the character of Allah in the Qur an wrote The God of the Qur an is consistently the vigilant Lord of strict justice who will not overlook the weight even of an atom when reckoning human deeds for reward and punishment on the Judgment Day 26 On the basis of the Qur anic materials 27 the larger concept of the Judgment Day has been filled out with thousands of traditions which tell of the relative merit of religious duties Other scholars however deny that Islam is a strict religion of law 28 arguing that in Islam salvation and everything else is conceived of as finally according to the will of Allah 29 Allah s will is supreme and there can be no certainty about the way things will turn out no matter how good the faith and works of the individual Encouraged by this perhaps many entertain the hope supported again by traditions 30 that God will by his own mercy decide against a strict reckoning and will rather forgive sins The other dimension of the discussion which goes beyond a strict reckoning is the widespread hope in the intercession of Muhammad A popular tradition teaches that on the Day of Judgment the people will stand on the plain and ask who will intercede with us before the Lord They go in turn to Adam Moses and Abraham who all say that they themselves have sinned stand in need of salvation and thus cannot intercede for others They go to Isa Jesus but he says he is afraid of Allah s wrath because people have called him Allah s son Finally the people reach Muhhammad Muhammad is allowed to intercede for his people and Allah grants his request 31 The Qur an itself seems to prohibit this kind of thinking in several passages 32 but other verses leave the door open for the intercession of him who is approved 21 28 33 Muslims are not agreed on this point but all pray five times daily that Allah grant to Muhammad the rights of intercession shafa at and mediation waseelat 34 And many Muslims are confident that he has obtained the position of central influence on the Judgment Day 35 Many in fact call Muhammad Munjin or Munajji participles from the root naja having the sense of saviourhood 8 36 POPULAR SALVATION An aspect of salvation which is usually neglected in the standard discussions but is now rapidly coming into prominence is everyday salvation from forces experienced as beyond the control of the ordinary Muslim These forces include illness curses activity by evil spirits or jinn and interestingly fate itself This whole field of concern has been set out in a responsible and very accessible way by Bill Musk in The Unseen Face of Islam 37 Unseen it may be to some eyes but as Musk points out and as experience confirms it is virtually ubiquitous in the Muslim world Muslims seek salvation from various forces by going to people within Muslim society who are skilled in practicing occult arts The practitioners use various techniques including amulets spells magic squares palmistry and exorcism to bring about felt need level salvation If fact it is the Urdu word nijaat which a local spiritual healer uses on his signboard The most powerful of these practitioners wielding enormous influence in wide areas of the Muslim world are the Pirs and Sayyids In our contacts we have to take this aspect quite seriously because many of our friends think of salvation in terms of these practitioners and after their death their tombs 38 DIFFICULT DENIALS In addition to all the positive conceptions described above Muslim thinking on salvation is sometimes also expressed in terms of what it is not The roots of this are the Qur an s own guidance on genuine and false religion on true and illusory hopes In the past 150 years the public preaching of Christian missionaries in Muslim settings has drawn a response to gospel claims especially in the Indian subcontinent The Qur an as mentioned above seems to forbid any idea of an intercessor or mediator between Allah and humankind 39 It leaves no room for atonement It claims that no soul can bear the load of another 40 And most crucial of all it says that the Jews did not crucify Isa but rather it only appeared so to them and in reality Isa was taken up alive by Allah 4 157 159 Taken together these denials have fostered an Islamic consensus against Christ s death at the Cross which Kenneth Cragg summarizes It did not historically it need not redemptively and it should not morally happen to Jesus 41 Such denials appear with increasing frequency in inter faith conversation In response to a Mennonite professor s careful presentation of the meaning of salvation in the Bible an African scholar said Islam does not identify with the Christian conviction that man needs to be redeemed The 9 Christian belief in the redemptive sacrificial death of Christ does not fit the Islamic view that man has always been fundamentally good and that God loves and forgives those who obey His will 42 On another occasion of inter faith conversation Isma il al Faruqi stated Assuming all men necessarily to be fallen to stand in the predicament of original sin of alienation from God of self contradiction self centeredness or of falling short of the perfection of God Christian mission seeks to ransom and save Islam holds man to be not in need of any salvation Instead of assuming him to be religiously and ethically fallen Islamic da wah acclaims him as the khaltfah of Allah perfect in form and endowed with all that is necessary to fulfill the divine will indeed even loaded with the grace of revelation Salvation is hence not in the vocabulary of Islam Falah or the positive achievement in space and time of the divine will is the Islamic counterpart of Christian deliverance and redemption 43 Austrian convert Muhammad Asad claims As there is no hereditary sin there is also no universal redemption of mankind in the teaching of Islam Redemption and damnation are individual Every Muslim is his own redeemer he bears all possibilities of spiritual success and failure within his heart 44 These statements are representative of Muslims who have been participating in inter faith conversation and who have been producing some of the most widely read apologies for Islam in the West 45 They demonstrate that even in the polite setting of Muslim Christian dialogue the biblical teaching on salvation is a stumbling block which elicits denials with an intriguing edge to them SOME REFLECTIONS From among scores of questions which have come to me in the course of this research I would like to present just a few What does the saving requirement of faith in Muhammad and all that this has come to signify for Muslims mean for concerns of ultimate loyalty worship and truth Many scholars have concluded that faith is the essential means to salvation in Islam 46 A central article of that faith is the prophethood of Muhammad What does this veneration mean in terms of the first commandment What is it in the light of Romans 10 19 Does it have any connection to Matthew 7 15 What does the use of the verb naja in the Qur an mean for the career of Christ in particular his suffering obedience and redemptive death We read there that Allah always saves his prophets from disaster and that it is fitting that he should do so 10 103 This concept has had its impact on 10 Muslim thinking about the way God works and particularly on the possibility of Christ s death Thus Fazlur Rahman states It is because of this basic line of thought concerning the final victory of good over evil that the Qur an refers constantly to the vindication of Noah who was saved from the flood of Abraham who was saved from fire of Moses who was saved from Pharoah and his hordes and of Jesus who was saved from execution at the hands of the Jews hence the rejection by the Qur an of the crucifixion story Muhammad must equally be vindicated he will not only be saved but his Message will be victorious 47 Is this indeed how God works What does the use of the verb naja mean for non resistance and unconditional love The context of the Qur an s most elaborate promise using this verb 61 10 is the condition of striving jihad in the Cause of Allah with your property and your persons 61 11 It is followed by the claim that Jesus and his disciples did the same They became the ones that prevailed when Allah gave power against their enemies 61 14 Certainly the subject of fighting in the way of Allah the unambiguous qatal is used in many other passages 48 and its connection in the Muslim mind with salvation or at least with victory is a subject which Peace Church missions to Islam will want to address Kenneth Cragg and Bill Musk have made a start on behalf of the Church of England 49 Have Anabaptists yet made a contribution Does the way in which Islam conceives of sin and salvation show that it has come to grips with the human situation and the position of humankind before God Hendrick Kraemer the great Dutch professor of religion found something missing There is hardly any surmise either in the Quran or in its standard theologies about the stirring problems of God and man that are involved in the terms sin and salvation The whole drama of salvation between God and the world so vivid in Biblical realism from which Islam historically speaking is an offshoot is entirely absent 50 Kenneth Cragg who some would say takes a quite different approach to Islam than does Kraemer 51 likewise persists on the theme of salvation Arguably the Christian Islamics scholar who has struggled hardest to understand what Muslims believe and to share Christian beliefs in Muslim terms Cragg has summarized his central thrust in a trio of chapters in Jesus and the Muslim 52 on how God in Christ has acted to save humanity through the Cross His burden for Muslims there is that they gain a true measure of the sinfulness of humankind and an appreciation for the radical remedy that God has provided out of his suffering love character 53 At the end I return to my pastors in training and ordinary Muslims and in particular to my assistant in this research Mr Nasir Masih Nasir 11 is a schoolteacher with six children who came to seminary to train for ministry Next year at the end of four years of quite excellent Bible study he will likely begin a busy and difficult church ministry at less than 100 a month When we think about issues of inter faith such as in the present paper we might ask where such issues actually meet reality Is it in the comfortable office of the western scholar Is it in the encounters of the expatriot missionary who goes and comes as circumstances and missions giving allow Is it not rather in the ministry of the national Christian leader who has to live in the midst of Muslims and speak for the faith from day to day and to encourage the sheep of the Good Shepherd who are often denied their hope in him When Nasir was interviewing a Karachi Muslim on the subject of salvation he ventured to ask If Allah forgives sins simply by his will where then is the element of justice The interviewee immediately lashed out You are silly people in faith Allah is not like a man He can do what he wants You have changed your religious books and your thinking is wrong Please pray for such as these WORKS CITED Abdul Rehman Shad compiler Key to Salvation Lahore Kazi Publications 1988 Anderson Norman Islam in the Modern World Leicester Apollos 1990 Bell Richard Introduction to the Qur an Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press 1953 Cragg Kenneth The Call of the Minaret New York Oxford University Press 1956 Jesus and the Muslim An Exploration London George Allen Unwin 1985 Muhammad and the Christian A Question of Response New York Orbis 1984 Prepositions and Salvation International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol 17 No 1 January 1993 pp 2 3 Daud Rahbar A Letter to Christian and Muslim Friends Hartford Conn published privately 1960 al Faruqi Isma il On the Nature of Islamic Da wah International Review of Mission Vol LXV No 260 October 1976 pp 391 400 Flugel Gustav Concordance of the Koran Karachi Rahim Brothers 1979 reprint of Leipzig 1898 edition Gardner W R W The Qur anic Doctrine of Salvation Madras Christian Literature Society 1914 Hastings James ed Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics Edinburgh T T Clark 1920 Hughes Thomas Patrick A Dictionary of Islam London W H Allen Co 1885 Jeffery Arthur ed Islam Muhammad and his Religion New York The Liberal Arts Press 1958 Jones L Bevan The People of the Mosque Calcutta Baptist Mission Press 1959 Jones Richard J Wilfred Cantwell Smith and Kenneth Cragg on Islam as a Way of Salvation IBMR Vol 16 No 3 July 1992 pp 105 110 Kateregga Badru D and David W Shenk Islam and Christianity A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue Grand Rapids Eerdmans 1980 Khurshid Ahmad ed Islam Its Meaning and Message Leicester The Islamic Foundation 1976 second edition Knietschke W The Koran Doctrine of Redemption The Moslem World Vol II No 1 January 1912 pp 60 65 Lewis P Pirs Shrines and Pakistani Islam Rawalpindi Christian Study Centre 1985 MacDonald Duncan B Development of Muslim Theology Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory New York Charles Scribners Sons 1926 The Religious Attitude and Life in Islam Beirut Khayats 1965 reprint of 1909 edition Maududi Abul Ala Towards Understanding Islam Lahore Islamic Publications 1960 Miller Roland The Muslim Doctrine of Salvation The Bulletin of the Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies ILIX No 1 July Sept 1960 pp 33 55 ILIX No 2 Oct Dec 1960 13 pp 10 27 Reprinted in The Bulletin of Christian Institutes of Islamic Studies III No 1 4 Jan Dec 1980 pp 142 193 Muhammad Abul Quasem Salvation of the Soul and Islamic Devotions London Kegan Paul International 1983 Muhammad Imran Preparation for the Hereafter Lahore Sh Muhammad Ashraf 1991 Muhammad Kifayatullah Lessons in Islam trans Sabihuddin Ahmed Ansari Karachi Darul Ishaat n d Muhammad Manzoor Naomani What Islam Is trans Muhammad Asif Kidwai Karachi Darul Ishaat n d Muhammad Shafi Salvation of Muslims or Atonement of sins Urdu Karachi Darul Ishaat 1367 Hijri Muhammad Taqi Usmani Do the Mandatory Prayer Properly Urdu Karachi Darul Ishaat n d Easy Pieties Urdu Karachi Darul Ishaat 1412 H Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalvi Faza il e A maal trans Abdul Rashid Arshad Lahore Kutub Khana Faizi n d Musk Bill The Unseen Face of Islam Eastbourne MARC 1989 Nazir Ali Michael Frontiers in Muslim Christian Encounter Oxford Regnum 1987 Padwick Constance E Muslim Devotions A Study of Prayer Manuals in Common Use London S P C K 1961 Pastner Stephen L Power and Pirs Among the Pakistani Baluch Journal of Asian and African Studies XIII 3 4 July October 1978 pp 232 243 Penrice John A Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran Karachi Rahim Brothers 1987 reprint of Italian edition 1898 Raheemson M O Sin An Islamic Perspective The Muslim World League Journal Vol 19 Nos 1 2 July August 1991 Rahman Fazlur Major Themes of the Qur an Minneapolis Bibliotheca Islamica 1980 Sale George trans The Koran London Frederick Warne and Co first appeared 1734 Seale M S Qur an and Bible Studies in Interpretation and Dialogue London Croom Helm 1978 Stanton H U Weitbrecht The Teaching of the Qur an London Central Board of Missions and Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge 1919 Stem MS Al Ghazzali on Repentance Lahore Vanguard 1990 Sweetman J Windrow Islam and Christian Theology A Study of the Interpretation of Theological Ideas in the Two Religions London Lutterworth 1955 Wensinck A J The Muslim Creed Its Genesis and Historical Development Cambridge Cambridge University

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/islam-and-salvation-some-on-site.html (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Direction: The Concept of Salvation in the Christian-Muslim Encounter
    of the Gentiles Isa 45 20 Since sin leads to death salvation from death and salvation from sin can be seen together Ps 39 8 19 51 14 79 9 Therefore Jesus asked his disciples to pray Deliver us from the evil one Matt 6 13 NIV In 1 Thess 5 1 naja refers to the coming day of Christ in which there is no salvation for unbelievers Hebrews 2 3 and 12 25 warn that there may be no salvation on the day of judgment The conclusion of this short review of the use of naja in the Arabic Van Dyke Bible is that naja is used in a way similar to its use in the Qur ran In no case is the root naja used to express salvation from eternal death by Christ s sacrifice Therefore it seems to be necessary to include other terms to express salvation by Christ Arabic Christians normally use forms of the root xalasa when speaking of Christ as the Savior muxallis an intensive form Forms of xalasa occur more often in the Van Dyke Arabic Bible then forms of naja Xalasa is used to express salvation in earthly situations of danger but it is especially used for Christ as the Savior for example Matt 1 21 he will save his people from their sins Matt 18 11 the Son of Man came to save what was lost John 4 42 this man really is the Savior of the world 12 47 I did not come to judge the world but to save it Phil 3 20 we eagerly await a Savior from there the Lord Jesus Christ 1 Thess 5 9 to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ 1 Tim 1 15 Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners Titus 1 4 Christ Jesus our Savior 2 Pet 1 1 our God and Savior Jesus Christ 1 John 4 14 his Son to be the Savior of the world The problem is that this Christian terminology is strange to Muslim listeners Derivations of the root xalasa occur only 28 times in the Qur an The basic meaning of the root is to be pure to be sincere The Qur an uses the forms of xalasa in this sense Twenty times it uses muxlis or muxkzs to indicate that a person is a sincere and true believer in God or a prophet 2 139 7 29 10 22 12 24 15 40 19 51 29 65 31 32 37 40 74 128 160 169 38 83 39 2 11 14 40 14 65 98 5 The Qur an does not use the intensive form xallasa i e to make pure to save When I as a Christian speak to Muslim listeners about Christ as the muxallis Savior they tend to understand that Christ is muxlis sincere or muxlas sincere or pure Of course Muslims can accept that Christ is a sincere prophet but it is very difficult for them to

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/concept-of-salvation-in-christian-muslim.html (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Direction: Salvation according to Hinduism
    period The Brahman by birth were considered the incarnation of deity and the Sudra was placed in low status Salvation according to this period was obtained by showing obedience to the law of Manu particularly to the law of caste During the period of Devotional Hinduism the Bhagavad Gita became the most important book The Bhagavad Gita is a highly esteemed scripture of Hinduism The Bhagavad Gita or The Song of the Adorable is written in the form of dialogues between Krishna the Charioteer of Arjuna and the leader of the Pandavas Bhagavad Gita reaffirms the caste system The main message of the Bhagavad Gita is Do your caste duty and trust your God for the rest of your salvation The nature of salvation in Bhagavad Gita is very remarkable The Bhagavad Gita offers universal salvation to all sinners even to women and low caste Sudras Salvation as per the Bhagavad Gita is obtained chiefly through devotion to personal deity SALVATION ACCORDING TO POPULAR HINDUISM 250 A D 1700 A D During the period of popular Hinduism the concept of salvation derived from the teachings of literature namely the Epics Purans Philosophical Schools and the Religious Sects of Hinduism The Epics and Purans consist of two great stories The Mahabarata and The Ramayana During this period a great change took place about the way of salvation Till this period the teaching of the salvation through the way of knowledge was relevant to the intellectuals Brahamans and to the sages In this period a new concept was developed to make the way of salvation understandable to common people The new way of salvation in this period was the way of devotion to any god idol river or mountain To obtain the salvation the people worshipped idols visited sacred places and observed several ceremonies The idols were in the form of all kinds of human and animal representations and even male and female organs Various philosophical schools originated at this time as the result of attacks made by the Jaims and the Buddhists against the traditions and doctrines of the Vedas and Uphanishads There are six such schools All these schools have some common factors to contribute to the way of salvation The Nyaya school tells the meaning of the knowledge which is the way of salvation The Vaisheshika school mainly deals with the atomic constitution of things The Samkhya school explains systematically the origin of the world The Yoga school provides means of attaining ultimate perfection by controlling physical and psychical elements of human 25 nature This system is very popular in India The Mimamsa school teaches that salvation will be obtained through Dharma of the ritualistic observances prescribed in the Vedas The Vedanta school tells of the philosophy of the Uphanishads Saivism is a very important sect in which Siva is worshiped Remission of sins through repentance is not mandatory a mere performance of religious ceremonies such as bathing in sacred rivers and the uttering of a few mantras or

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/salvation-according-to-hinduism.html (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Direction: Salvation as Release from Karma
    a song celestial promotes one s duty within the caste system to one s family and community without attachment and attention to the result As such it was all right for Arguna a warrior to kill his own kinsman and relatives and still 28 achieve the Moksa salvation Do your duty without attachment and sentiments in the real dharma religion The Hindus assert and long for final release from the cycle of birth and death the human birth was possible after the soul had already gone through the lower birth forms for 8 4 million times The final release comes as a result of merging one s soul in the One Soul losing its identity which is Brahma the creator of the world One s lot in life now is the result of past karmas fates and the unrewarded present will be taken care of in the next life You are what you did in the past life and what you are doing now will have a definite bearing in the next life The decree of Karma is unalterable is a popular Hindu saying In my ministry among the Sikhs I met a Sikh who did not report his son s murderer to the authorities because he wanted to break the cycle of Karma He believed that in the past life he must have murdered someone in the family of the murderer and in this life it was paid back to him and that if he left it right here without seeking justice or retribution it would be the end of it All events in life are predetermined nothing extraordinary is going to happen and as such one must face the unfolding drama of life with surrender and resignation I have often witnessed tragedies borne by Indians irrespective of their

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/salvation-as-release-from-karma.html (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Direction: Jesus and the Religions of the World
    the truth and the life John 14 6 The pluralists have made the presupposition of modern historical consciousness the absolute on the basis of which they judge other religions This unproved presupposition needs to be challenged It cannot be used arbitrarily to suppress the witness of Jesus Christ We concur with Lesslie Newbigin when he said To affirm the unique decisiveness of God s action in Jesus Christ is not arrogance it is the enduring bulwark against the arrogance of every culture to be itself the criterion by which others are judged The charge of arrogance which is leveled against those who speak of Jesus as the unique Lord and Savior must be thrown back at those who assume modern historical consciousness has disposed of that faith 6 As Christians we boldly reject the modern presupposition that God cannot act in history to reveal himself in an absolute way We take our stand on the presupposition evident in the Scriptural witness that God acted redemptively in a unique way through Jesus Christ The life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ formed the focus of history and a new era of God s redemptive purposes in the world Kaufman s view is that human imaginative creativity in searching out the meaning of life and an understanding of reality is applicable to non Christian religions God bears constant witness to His existence in the heart and mind of every human being as well as through his created order Rom 1 20 and in the providential gifts of sun and rain and crops Acts 14 17 34 All people therefore being created in the image of God and being surrounded by witnesses to the existence of God are engaged in a search for God Acts 17 27 But in reply one must point to the paradox There is in humanity both a search for God and a running away from God there exist signs of noble aspirations and signs of suppressing the truth in unrighteousness Consequently world religions as attempted constructions of reality have centered more on human efforts to save themselves than on God s efforts to save Hendrik Kraemer a student of the religions of the world characterizes the heart of world religions as religions of self redemption self justification and self sanctification in stark contrast to redemption in Jesus Christ who of God was made wisdom righteousness sanctification and redemption 1 Cor 1 30 7 The human condition in the world requires more than what pure human imaginative creativity can produce In Jesus Christ God broke into human history establishing a permanent relationship with all of humanity The gospel of Jesus Christ is universally relevant Stephen Neill puts it precisely when he says For the human sickness there is one specific remedy and this is it There is no other Therefore the gospel must be proclaimed to the ends of the earth and to the end of time The church cannot compromise on its missionary task without ceasing to be the church If it fails to see and to accept this responsibility it is changing the gospel into something other than itself 8 INTELLECTUAL COLLAPSE Pluralists cross other bridges One is the bridge of mystery This step to mystery must surely be the last fatal step of pluralism It is an attempt to move from the particularity of God s revelation in Jesus Christ to a theocentric perspective but a theocentric perspective where God becomes distant indeed a mystery and Christ is no longer identified with God in an absolute way The pluralist makes God a mystery and relativizes any claim to be the only way to that mystery Stanley J Samartha puts it this way That Jesus is the Christ of God is a confession of faith by the Christian community It does indeed remain normative to Christians everywhere but to make it absolutely singular and to maintain that the meaning of the Mystery is disclosed only in one particular person at one particular point and nowhere else is to ignore one s neighbors of other faiths who have other points of reference To make exclusive claims for our particular tradition is not the best way to love our neighbors as ourselves 35 9 The suggestion is to regard human responses to the revelation of mystery as plural both in their way of articulation and in their way of experiencing salvation But what is God like Can we know this ultimate reality Or does He remain an unknown God Panikkar rejects the idea of finding a common core in the different religions of the world He sees religions as rivers having their separate identities The Christian vision of God he says is not the Hindu vision or the Buddhist vision His conclusion is that religions are mutually incompatible and irreducible 10 Pluralism thus rejects the possibility of a universal religious system and accepts the irreconcilability of the religions of the world This note of despair is captured by Tom Driver when he maintains that God is Himself pluralistic having different natures The issue is therefore not simply that different religious traditions inadequately express who God is but that there are real and genuine differences within the godhead itself God therefore has involved Himself in a variety of ways in different human communities 11 The logic of pluralism has ended in despair about any true knowledge of God This is no less than an intellectual collapse and a cultural collapse which has abandoned the search for truth in its rejection of God s revelation through Jesus Christ 12 But do not Christians also speak of a mystery Yes but only in the context of God s knowability God is knowable through creation He is knowable through Jesus Christ Acknowledging God s transcendence the Christian believes and rejoices in His immanence particularly through the incarnation of Jesus Christ Knowledge of God is true while finite mystery remains because God is infinite Our knowledge is true to the extent it conforms to God s self revelation in Jesus Christ and in the Word But of those who seek God through unaided reason rationalism or through the imaginative creativity of human religious consciousness mysticism or through spiritual disciplines without Christ moralism God remains remote a mystery a hidden God Pluralists cross another bridge the bridge of justice the ethical practical bridge Outraged by the suffering of the oppressed in the world pluralists set the criterion by which to judge a religion which is the commitment to social justice and human liberation The goal of religions according to Knitter is to fire up liberation movements Rather than find a common theological ground or a common essence in religions around which to rally or a mystical core pluralists turn to the liberation theologian s preferential concern for the poor around which all religions are called to unite All are to engage in the problem of humanizing existence in the modern world This process of humanization is the final stage in an evolutionary process for the pluralist theology theologian From the early church centered 36 approach salvation is only in the church the process has moved to a Christ centered perspective salvation is in Christ also outside the church to a theocentric perspective God is a mystery to be worshipped validly in a variety of ways to a kingdom perspective a common search for the liberation of the oppressed Inter religious dialogue is not to be centered on Christ or God but on the different ways of liberating the oppressed in the world The claims for authenticity can only be made on the basis of praxis or doing the truth It is questionable whether a unity can be found in what doing the truth means What is patent is that in pluralism evangelism has little priority salvation as social liberation becomes the center More significantly one needs to ask why abstract words such as justice love and liberation have a more ultimate status as a criterion than the concrete life of Jesus Christ in His perfections expressed in human history Christ s definitions of love and justice as demonstrated in His life and death relativize all other interpretations 13 Social justice according to Christ is an important concern to Christian believers even as is the call to bear witness to the truth in Christ One can only agree with John Stott and his affirmation We must agree that contemporary issues of social justice should be of enormous concern to all Christian people since we acknowledge the dignity of human beings as persons made in God s image We should therefore be ashamed that evangelical Christians during this century have tended to be in the rearguard instead of in the vanguard of social reformers We have no quarrel with the proposal to assess religions including Christianity according to their social record since we claim that the gospel is the power of God to transform both individuals and communities 14 JESUS IS THE WAY While rejecting the major tenets of pluralism evangelical Christians affirm some of its goals We affirm the need to seek greater understanding of the religions of the world we agree that we can learn from inter religious dialogue we reject a colonial imperialistic mind set and we affirm a concern for global harmony and for social justice in all the world But we also affirm the cruciality of witnessing to Jesus as the only Savior who through his life death and resurrection opens the way to God We believe in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ because of his claims and because of the testimony of the apostles We challenge all to examine his life and His perfections 37 Jesus Uniqueness Jesus claims a unique identity with the Father and a unique mission in the world namely to reveal God to all humanity His words are All things have been committed to me by my Father No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom his Son chooses to reveal him Matt 11 27 The universal invitation which follows this remarkable statement is a call to come to him personally to receive him trust in him enjoy him and receive rest from him These claims climax Jesus answer to the challenging question of John the Baptist Are you the one who was to come or should we expect someone else Matt 11 3 Jesus answer is unambiguously clear He alone has intimate understanding of the Father s mind and will He alone can make the Father known Unlike other leaders of world religions Jesus speaks of a staggering intimate relationship to God Toward the end of His ministry Jesus made another stupendous claim Anticipating his death resurrection and ascension to the Father Jesus answered the query of Thomas about the way to God in the words I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through me John 14 6 Through his death and resurrection Jesus in his own person became the way to God Entrance to that way means embracing him identifying with him Salvation is Christocentric Christ s claim is that he in his person is the truth the fullness of God dwells in him Jesus frequently addressed the truth question in religion God was to be worshipped in spirit and in truth John 4 24 It is the truth which would liberate and set free John 8 31 32 That grace and truth came in Him John 1 17 Jesus also claimed to be the life the life of God which renews empowers and endures In his pastoral prayer Jesus defined this eternal life as knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ who God sent John 17 3 There is something radically exclusive in Jesus claim to be the only way to God Outside of Him there is spiritual darkness lostness and death This radical exclusive claim is sustained in Scripture When the resurrected Lord encountered Saul on the way to Damascus the Lord defined Saul s future calling in terms of this exclusive claim when he said I am sending you to them the Gentiles to open their eyes and turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me Acts 26 18 Paul views those outside of Christ as without hope and without God when he reminds the Ephesians Remember that at that time before knowing Christ you were separate from Christ excluded from the citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of promise without hope and without God in the world But now in Christ 38 Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ Eph 2 12 13 The blood of Christ is critical in any hope of reconciliation with God The theology of the Cross is central to having access to God Other religions are consistently characterized as darkness from which one has to turn away to the living God through Christ Salvation in him involved a turning from idols to serve a living and true God 1 Thess 1 9 The New Testament did not view religions as heading in the right direction or as vehicles of salvation Only Christ was the way This exclusivist perspective governed the Book of Acts beginning with Christ s vision statement for the church in the world in which the church was empowered by the Holy Spirit for the mission of Christ The Book of Acts unfolds the drama of that mission from Jerusalem to Rome In that process we see glimpses of the church s view of Christ Peter witnesses to the resurrected Lord s activity in healing the cripple as an instance of Christ s unique redemptive ministry in the world Peter makes a courageous confession of Christ Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given by men by which we must be saved Acts 4 12 The early church consistently maintained this exclusive way of salvation The uniqueness of Christ also consisted in his unique lordship His triumph on the cross his resurrection and his ascension placed him above all principalities and powers and as head of the church Eph 1 Christ would build the church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it His kingdom would grow like a mustard seed He would fulfill the vision of Daniel in which the uncut stone representing the kingdom of God grew until it filled the whole world Dan 2 and incorporating peoples from all nations Dan 7 The Book of Revelation anticipating Christ s culminating triumph in history is an absorbing picture of the fulfillment of God s promises to Abraham that through Him all the families of the earth would be blessed and his followers be like the sand of the seashore After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation tribe people and language standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb They were wearing white robes and they were holding palm branches in their hands And they cried out in a loud voice salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb Rev 7 9 10 Christ s person redemptive activity and rule are unique 39 The Inadequacies of Inclusive Approaches to Non Christian Religions Formulating the dilemma from an inclusivist perspective The exclusivist perspective on non Christian religion holds that salvation can be found only through faith in Jesus Christ It cannot be found in human philosophies rationalism in religious experiences of other religions mysticism or in piety and moral attainment legalism Neither general revelation or the religions of the world are able to lead people to salvation On the basis of Romans 1 3 it is maintained that nobody has lived up to the knowledge of God accessible through general revelation Salvation is only through faith by grace in Jesus Christ Because salvation is only in Jesus Christ Christians are called to proclaim him everywhere Faith comes through hearing and hearing by the Word of God Those who have not heard of Jesus Christ and therefore have not put their faith in him are people whose future is best left in the hands of a righteous and merciful God The inclusivist denies that there is no hope of salvation for those who have not heard the gospel or that salvation is not accessible to all For him the credibility of the God of Jesus Christ is at stake How can a God who loves the world who wants none to perish but desires all to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved and who poured out His soul on the cross in Jesus Christ to save the world how would he not make salvation available to all At issue is the credibility of the genuine desire of God for all to be saved as well as his justice and fairness This is the way Clark Pinnock addresses the dilemma Many are asking today whether it is conceivable that the God who reconciled the world in Jesus Christ would allow the majority of humankind to perish without having been told of His love for them or having an opportunity to receive or reject salvation I am not the only evangelical who does not believe this makes good sense of God s gracious way with humanity and who wants a better explanation 40 15 WIDENING THE DOOR THE CHALLENGE PRESENTED BY THE INCLUSIVIST In order to relieve the tension between God s universal salvific will and salvation only in Jesus Christ the exclusivist argues for the accessibility of salvation to all Salvation is indeed through Jesus Christ the only Savior it is said

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/jesus-and-religions-of-world.html (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Direction: Luke on Pluralism: Flex with History
    a tribal confederation He could even have pointed out that polytheism was inherent in familial divinities In fact his main point is the contrast between false idolatrous and true worship at every stage of Israel s cult But now Stephen who was moving swiftly alluded again to a fourth stage in his progression of epochs Verse 37 had promised a fourth era beginning with a new Moses But nothing more had been said about it Verses 48 50 quoting another prophetic text affirm that not even the entire cosmos can contain God Idols Tabernacle Temple The vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God above the heavens vv 55 56 completed the apologia by disclosing the goal of both the Jewish polity and its worship Now Stephen who was standing in the shadow of the temple was made to look through the opened heaven to the reality of which the temple and the tabernacle and perhaps even the host of heaven have been types and precursors Although Luke had presented the temple as the goal of the earthly ministry of Jesus it now turns out that the resurrected Jesus is the house not made with hands through whom God is both to be understood and to be approached Jesus not the cosmos truly models God And this Jesus is the continuing giver of a newer living law Acts 2 33 which is the Holy Spirit within each believer As the one whose martyrdom crowns his witness Stephen is a model of the normal disciple in the new and universal people of God As the one who participates in the killing of Stephen Saul is the promise of the Paul who will be the bearer of this gospel to the end of the earth What Stephen had presented was a large structure for explaining the actions of God through history To create a new people for God in a Kingdom for his direct rule God had first created a new kind of family in Abraham a new kind of tribal polity with Joseph and his brothers and a new kind of people through Moses Each of these epochs led to a successor epoch and all of them were completed and fulfilled in what was inaugurated with Jesus PREACHING THIS GOSPEL TO THE GENTILES We can ask now Is Christ the exclusive way to salvation What is to be said about religious pluralism I intend not to give a final answer to 49 this question but only to present some key aspects of Luke s answer Though only one part of the New Testament Luke s answer should be important for us All we now need to do is to see how Luke applies his understanding of the Gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles Between the end of Stephen s apologia and his vision of Jesus standing at the right hand of God there is a passage in which Stephen directly confronts the Council with the claim that they and their fathers have always persecuted the prophets who looked forward to the coming of the Righteous One Two interpretations of the meaning of their history now confront each other Stephen denies that God can be identified with any stage of God s dealings To absolutize even Moses and Temple is to create idols Only God is to be absolutized and God is dynamic free to move to better gifts In keeping with a significant theme in the Hebrew Scriptures God s dynamic movement cannot rest until all nations have been blessed in Abraham The other the pietistic version which Luke has rejected is to insist that God s best gifts are absolute and that they have been given to Israel Their own national fulfillment and aggrandizement is the point of the story and Moses and Temple are the final seal and sacrament of that purpose Luke s interpretation implies also that what has been revealed in Israel s story is not a special truth for themselves alone Nor is their history a sacred history so totally different from all others Rather it is Israel s glory to have so wrestled with God that their own history has yielded a revelation of the deeper truth of all histories And as a fulfillment of the epochs of their own wrestling with God s purposes they have become the stage for the coming of the one who is the goal of all other histories At the very beginning of Luke s story Simeon had proclaimed that Jesus was a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to thy people Israel Luke 2 32 Near the end of Luke s story Paul links hope to the resurrection and insists that the resurrected Christ would proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles Acts 23 6 24 15 26 6 8 17 18 22 23 Thus the resurrected Jesus is made possible by Israel s history and extends the promises inherent in that history to the destinies of all other nations In this shift to other nations Paul s speeches play an important part Gliding from Jew to Gentile The last large section in Luke s story is devoted to Paul s missionary journeys Acts 17 1 21 14 and is organized around two speeches In the first Paul sketched an indigenous theology for the Gentile church 17 16 34 In the second he explained the nature of his ministry and 50 charged the elders of one of those churches to assume the supervision which he was relinquishing 20 13 37 The introduction to Paul s first speech his sermon on Mars Hill 17 16 21 connects the ensuing events with the events and message of Acts 6 7 Athens was a city full of idols Some Stoic and Epicurean philosophers both curious and condescending expressed interest in Paul s new teaching and brought him to the Areopagus The events remind the reader of Acts 6 There it was Stephen

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/luke-on-pluralism-flex-with-history.html (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Direction: The Destiny of Those Who Have Never Heard: A Bibliographical Essay
    the 58 resurrected and exalted Lord who exercises authority at the side of God Acts 10 12 43 Because Jesus is God s appointed judge if we are subject to God then we are also subject to Jesus To get to God one must go through Jesus p 120 Ignorance and God fearing devotion do not alter the reality that no one can enter God s presence outside of Jesus Devotion to God must be according to knowledge One must repent and believe in the righteousness that comes from God through faith in Jesus Acts 17 30 31 Douglas Moo in his submission Romans 2 Saved Apart from the Gospel rejects the interpretation of Romans 2 7 13 15 and 26 27 which states that Paul here opens the door to the possibility that people after Christ s coming who have never heard the gospel in any form can be saved by a sincere and obedient response to the light they have received The writer insists that Romans 2 can in no way be interpreted that Paul allows for salvation by works in light of other texts in the same letter 3 20 and 28 4 5 In the concluding section of Through No Fault Carl Henry forcefully affirms the traditional restrictivist view based on his understanding of election and God s nature He draws an analogy between how God has dealt with fallen angels and how he will deal with fallen and unredeemed humans who have never heard of Christ God has not provided redemption nor does he offer it to Satan and rebellious spirits whom he consigned to judgment without mercy 2 Peter 2 4 They are judged solely for what they have done with the light of God s general revelation so also are unregenerate humans who have never heard the gospel p 253 Henry concludes God is not obliged to save any morally rebellious creature His nonprovision of redemption for some fallen humans does not compromise his justice any more than does his nonprovision of redemption for all fallen angels God is not obliged to redeem all or any rebels his elective intervention is a voluntary expression of his holy love God in his sovereign will elects certain individuals in Christ John 6 37 Eph 1 4 5 p 253 To those who protest that this view makes God discriminatory and is therefore a violation of justice Henry replies that they have been caught up with contemporary theology s preoccupation with love as the core of God s being Modern theologians have subordinated righteousness to love and denied it equal ultimacy with love in the nature of deity In the final volume the editors echo Henry s view that we do not really have a proper biblical view of fairness or justice We have projected American ideas of egalitarianism over the Scriptural concepts of justice Crockett and Sigountos conclude that much work remains to be done to produce a balanced evangelical theology of religions We need a view 59 which steers between two extremes One extreme holds that all truth resides in Christianity and that non Christian religions have none The other extreme states that non Christian religions are just as valid as Christianity To plot a course between these two extremes is the difficult task remaining A MIDDLE PATH Three authors who have begun the search for the kind of balanced approach Crockett and Sigountos call for are Norman Anderson in his Christianity and World Religions The Challenge of Pluralism 1984 Clark Pinnock in A Wideness in God s Mercy The Finality of Jesus Christ in a World of Religions 1992 and John Sanders in No Other Name An Investigation Into The Destiny of the Unevangelized 1992 Sir Norman Anderson writes out of lengthy experience working among Muslims He has lectured in Islamic law for many years He is the author of Christianity The Witness of History The Mystery of the Incarnation and the editor of The World s Religions In Christianity and World Religions Anderson highlights the uniqueness of the Christian proclamation salvation and disclosure vis a vis other world religions and ends with an excellent chapter on proclamation and dialogue in our pluralistic society It is the pivotal fifth chapter No other name the longest in the book which breaks some new ground in the direction of offering the hope of salvation to those who have never heard of Christ While he solidly affirms that the only way to God is through Christ and the only basis of forgiveness and acceptance is the atonement effected at the cross pp 145 46 Anderson asks the question Is there any basis on which the efficacy of the one atonement can avail for those who have never heard about it Rather than remaining with the reverent agnostic position advocated by many Protestant theologians i e leave the issue unanswered because the Bible does not seem to provide any explicit solution Anderson suggests an approach which he says has increasingly commended itself to me in recent years as one which is compatible with our biblical data p 148 This has led him to affirm I cannot believe that all those who have never heard the gospel are inevitably lost p 175 Anderson makes much of the Old Testament Jews who turned to God in repentance brought the prescribed sacrifices and threw themselves on the mercy of God They did this he says as a result of God s work in their hearts opening the gate to the forgiveness made possible by the cross on which Jesus was to give himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time 1 Tim 2 6 A V 60 It is true that they had a special divine revelation in which to put their trust But might it not be true of the follower of some other religion that the God of all mercy worked in his heart by his Spirit bringing him in some measure to realize his

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/23/1/destiny-of-those-who-have-never-heard.html (2016-02-16)
    Open archived version from archive



  •