Views on Interreligious Dialogue and Salvation

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Views on Interreligious Dialogue and Salvation By Robert H. Munson Adjunct Faculty Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary

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  • Views on Interreligious Dialogue and SalvationBy Robert H. MunsonAdjunct FacultyPhilippine Baptist Theological Seminary

  • GoalThis presentation looks at two issues: (1) Who can be saved, and (2) How do we have dialogue with people of other faiths.These two issues have a strong relationship with each other-- in that how many relate to other faiths is connected with their view of who can be saved.This presentation is developed as it relates to the perspective(s) of those who desribe themselves as Evangelical Christians.

  • Views on Salvation (from a Christian Perspective)

  • ParticularistSalvation is only through ChristHowever, Christ is only accessible through one specific church/denomination

  • ExclusivistSalvation is only through Christ.Only those who knowingly respond to Christ are saved.The specific church/group is not important

  • Note:Some people use the terms Particularist and Exclusivist interchangeably.However, it is useful to consider them separately.Particularists, then, would go beyond Exclusivists by adding the need for mediation by a specific group or person to have access to Christ.

  • InclusivistsSalvation is through Christ, and it is generally accepted that Christ is the only means to salvation. However, some groups may have access to salvation who do not personally know Christ.

  • PluralistsSome are .much like Inclusivists, but would expand the availability of salvation to pretty much all groups. Salvation may be through Christ, but knowledge or response to Christ is not necessary.

  • PluralistsOther Pluralists are more relativistic regarding Christianity. Christians have no advantage over other groups.Salvation may be seen in terms of goodness, or embracing the best in their own faiths.

  • UniversalistsGod saves everyone regardless of their behavior or their beliefs.There are different variations on this as to whether it is through Christ, or whether their may be a time of suffering, or some form of another chance.

  • Where do Evangelicals fit into this?There are people who describe themselves as Evangelicals in all of the above categories.However, some of the categories do not really fit well with an Evangelical viewpoint of faith and the Bible.

  • EvanglicalsParticularism is problematic, because it appears to say that faith in Christ is not enough. One must be part of a specific group, or do a sacrament in a certain way, or have some secondary sign.Pluralism and Universalism downplay the role of Jesus as the way, truth, and the life... as well as reducing the importance of faith for salvation.

  • EvangelicalsMost Evangelicals would fit somewhere in the area where Exclusivism and Inclusivism overlap.We must have faith in Christ, and salvation is through Christ alone.But many Evangelicals would say that those who have not heard, or who are mentally retarded, or die as infants, may be saved by the blood of Christ, without personally know Christ. Some may add other groups, such as devout members of the Jewish faith.

  • Inter-religious DialogueInterreligious Dialogue often relates to the views of salvation (though not always).

  • Apologetic ApproachThose who are more Particularistic or Exclusivistic tend to see other religions as false and deceptive. Therefore, the goal is not to learn anything from them, but to convert them to faith in Christ, or allegiance with one's religious group.Therefore, there is a tendency to emphasize differences, and to debate with those of other faiths.

  • Relativistic ApproachThose who are more Pluralistic or Universalistic, tend to take a more positive or hopeful view of other faiths. As such, they tend to look toward similarities between Christianity and other faiths, and seek to see God in those faiths.As such, there is a tendency to discuss non-judgmentally, without presuming truth or falseness of individual beliefs.

  • Clarification ApproachIn between the Apologetic and Relativistic Approach, is the Clarification approach. It seeks neither an antagonistic or relativistic view of dialogue. Rather, it recognizes that there are both similarities and differences between Christianity and other faiths. The goal is mutual understanding.

  • In this course...The presumption is that the Clarification Approach is most often the best. The Relativistic Approach does not promote truth or transformation. The Apologetic Approach is divisive and actually may inhibit conversion.Clarification makes the Gospel clearer to those of other faiths... while removing barriers of stereotypes and misunderstandings.

  • Views on Interreligious Dialogue and SalvationBy Robert H. MunsonAdjunct FacultyPhilippine Baptist Theological Seminary