Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Religious Pluralism 2: the ABC on Christ's Finality

After last week's post, I thought that we might appreciate a slightly different point of view from our own Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. We're liking to a copy of a lecture he gave, titled "The Finality of Christ in a Pluralist World." You'll see that he attempts to strike a slightly different ground than simple exclusivism (one faith is correct) and inclusivism (all faiths are correct). We'll leave it to all of you to decide how successful he is. Here's a taste:

And so out of these two powerful and heavily-charged texts comes the classic Christian conviction: what we encounter in Jesus Christ is simply the truth. It is the truth about God and the truth about humanity. Not living into that truth and accepting it, has consequences because this is the last word about God and God's creation. So we speak of the finality of Christ. There's nothing more to know. Or we speak of the uniqueness of Christ. No one apart from Jesus of Nazareth expresses the truth like this.
That is what is so problematic for so many people in our world today. It's not just a question about people of other faiths (though it's partly that). It's also a question about how we in general communicate what we believe, and about what we believe God is doing in the world. And in the last forty years or so, the problems around the classical interpretation of these texts have been more and more highlighted. They fall into three broad groups, and in the first part of what I'm going to say I just want to look at the kinds of objection that have been raised to those classical interpretations of the texts.
The first difficulty is moral. What kind of God is it who makes salvation or eternal life dependent on what's always going to be a rather chancy matter? What about all those people who never had a chance of hearing about Jesus? What about all those who have heard about Jesus but have not understood or waited to find out?

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