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A Questioning Faith: Is Jesus the only way to salvation?

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Presentation on theme: "A Questioning Faith: Is Jesus the only way to salvation?"— Presentation transcript:

1 A Questioning Faith: Is Jesus the only way to salvation?

2 The Way It Used to Be “Throughout most of Christian history, most Christians gave little thought to the status or fate of non-Christians. Christians lived surrounded almost entirely by other Christians, and news from other parts of the world arrived very late if at all. Buddhism or Hinduism were just not topics they considered.” William Placher

3 The Way It is Now “We no longer just read about Hindus or Muslims, but we drink coffee with them personally as well. They live down the street, work in the same office, play with (maybe even marry!) our kids.” Paul Knitter

4 Two General Perspectives Within the church Struggle with plurality and our beliefs Outside the church Observe the byproduct of exclusivity

5 Struggle with plurality Presbyterian pastor Peacemaking speech Implied that Jesus may not be the only way to salvation Major uproar Call for church leaders to no longer allow this perspective It never came

6 Byproduct of Exclusivity “Regardless of acts of compassion for the poor, the hungry and sick, and the volunteer work that many religious people carry out, in the end many of them believe that anyone who does not follow their same religion will go to hell. In my view, there is not one true religion, one belief or one thing to worship.

7 Religion to me, is just a foundation for hatred, inequality and ignorance of scientific fact and education. But I do think having belief is a great thing, and volunteering is an amazing way to live your life when you allow everyone to take part.

8 When will someone speak up? When will religion be the foundation for true equality and inclusiveness? Or maybe someone like me 2,000 years from now, will be writing this same letter to the editor. Love life and everyone in it.” USA Today, Letters to the Editor (July 2008)

9 Legacy of Exclusivity Anti-Semitism 16 th century Christian pamphlet “First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them…Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed…third, I advise that all

10 Their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb.” Rev. Martin Luther

11 Changing Attitudes Recent poll by the Pew Foundation Asked Christians a number of statements One statement: “Many religions can lead to eternal life.” 70% - Yes 57% of evangelicals said yes Caveats needed

12 Scriptural Witness “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one can come to the Father accept through me.”John 14:6 Jesus is central to Christian faith Jesus is savior of humankind and the cosmos How one interprets this reality is varied

13 3 Paradigms

14 Propositional Truth Paradigm Battle for eternal truths Statements are either true or false Jesus is either our savior or he is not If Jesus says that he is the way, there can be no other way

15 Experiential Truth Paradigm Diversity of truth claims Look for common experiential truths We can experience the truth that Jesus offers in a variety of ways, but it is the experience itself that leads us in truth

16 Cultural-Linguistic Truth Truth is constructed by a set of words and practices that form a community Like a culture or a language, this truth is a communal phenomenon that shapes the lives and beliefs of the adherents The truth of Jesus is not just a set of beliefs or experiences, but a life, a way that shapes and forms our daily living

17 Four Models (Paul Knittner)

18 #1- The Replacement Model Respect for other views Room for dialogue God’s action in Jesus is definitive and unique

19 Action Seek to convert others to your spiritual truth “While Christians will always love persons of other religions and try to talk with them, they will show their love by attempting to replace their previous religious beliefs and practices with baptism into Christian life and practice.” Paul Knitter

20 Model #2- The Fulfillment Model God works through Christians God’s work is not limited by Christians Anonymous Christians God is active in other faiths, but Christ is still central Belief that in the end Christ will bring all things together

21 Action Commitment to share one’s faith Openness that God can work outside one’s faith Emphasis more on action than belief

22 #3- The Mutuality Model God is central God has acted in Jesus Christ-salvation “Christians can proclaim Jesus to be truly Savior of the world, but not the only Savior of the world.” Paul Knitter

23 Action Christians continue to announce Jesus as savior Christians continue to live as Christ called us to live Other religions might be fulfilling this in their own way

24 #4- The Eclectic Model Many paths to God Many spiritual practices- use what works for you Importance is common spiritual journey

25 Action Openness to all spiritual ways Exploration is encouraged Resist any exclusivity in perspective

26 Final thoughts God is the ultimate judge of these matters As Christians we believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior of the world We give witness to the truth that is embodied in Jesus We practice humility We practice hospitality We practice love

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