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I would like to discuss how we can maintain the centrality of Christ in the cosmos and also come to some understanding of how the Spirit (or Christ) may be at work in other religions. I keep running into people who seem to be manifesting aspects of the presence of the Spirit (even spiritual fruit) and also to have valid spiritual discernment of the Holy Spirit's movements who would not consider themselves a Christian in the sense of holding Christ as the definitive presence of God who saved the world and holds all things together. Lola
Posts: 89 | Location: Colorado Springs | Registered: 24 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm not surprised to hear that you're finding people who manifest evidence of the Spirit in other world religions.

First, let's note something that the Catholic Church, at least, teaches: namely, that someone from a non-Christian religion can be saved if they don't have explicit faith commitment in Christ, but who have followed their conscience in its guidance to live a life of goodness and love. This is at odds with what many evangelical/fundamentalistic Churches teach, so there is diversity in Christianity regarding this issue.

As I noted in another thread in response to Nick, three ways of understanding this topic are possible.

A. Exclusivist approach. Christ is active in the Christian religions and saves people who have made explicit faith commitments. Those who have not done so cannot go to heaven. Christ leaves those in other religions to themselves and their ignorance. This approach emphasizes the importance of missionary work in other world religions. Evangelical, fundamentalist, and large numbers of Christians from Catholic and mainline Protestant traditions have this view. Many even see other world religions as being of the devil.

B. Inclusivist approach. The risen Christ touches all lives, including people in other world religions. He was active in those traditions as the pre-incarnate Word, and now continues to lead all people of love and good-will to holiness and salvation in his risen state. Because he is the hidden reality at work in other traditions, it would be best for those in other traditions to come to Christian faith to know him more fully--as he, in fact, revealed himself to us. This view is held by most Catholic and mainline Protestant theologians. It promotes respect for other world religions while encouraging missionary efforts so as to lead others to a fuller knowledge of Christ.

C. Pluralistic view. Christ may or may not be active in other world religions, but whether he is or not makes no real difference. God is saving people through those religions and their own traditions and leaders. It is arrogant for one tradition to say that it possesses fuller knowledge of God, as these traditions all produce people of holiness and give evidence of the workings of a Spirit of Love. Hence, missionary work is discouraged while respect for other traditions as valid pathways to God in and of themselves and with no reference to Christianity is encouraged. Although there are only a few adherents of this view in Catholicism and the mainline Protestant Churches, their message resonates strongly with Western culture's growing emphasis on multi-culturalism.

Maybe we can start with that and see how things go.

As for my own personal view in this matter, my strongest sympathies are with the inclusivist approach, but I respect what the pluralists are saying as well. I think there is a type of inclusivist pluralism that can take the best insights of both approaches, but it's a tricky thing to articulate.

I have no leanings whatsoever to the exclusivist approach, and neither does Catholic doctrine, for that matter.

Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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