Only Jesus 3

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Only Jesus 3

Post  Guest on Sat 24 Nov 2007, 6:14 pm

Salvation from God (With or without Jesus).
ĎSalvation comes from God through Jesusí is an age-long axiom of Christians, particularly those holding an exclusivistic view. In this regard Hendrik Kraemer asserts that salvation is only possible through explicit confession and surrender to the revelation of God in Christ. This is supported by the claim that there is no salvation outside the church[1]. If this is the case then the question arises, What about the universal salvific will of God? and the Christian claim that God has a universal salvific love and a desire to save all people.

To this John Hick can respond that exclusivistí claim is in total contrast with Christian axiom of Godís universal salvific love and a desire to save all people. According to him, there is a need of a shift Ė a shift from Jesus centric salvation towards God centric salvation. This is based on Copernican approach: instead of Christ being in the centre of Religious System, God is in the centre. And all religions are pointing towards him, in their own way. But when Hick was criticised for this notion that God is at the centre of the Universe of Faiths, and called it to be a Christian claim, then where is the place for non-theists and Buddhists? Then Hick made a slight shift in his Copernican approach Ė saying there is a divine Reality, Eternal One, the Ďrealí who is at the centre of the Universe of faiths.[2] But even then this statement does not satisfy a Buddhist, as they do not believe in a divine reality and supreme being. Which seems to be a point of confusion to explain the real position, and the Universal salvific will of God.

The concept of Ďanonymous Christiansí by Karl Rahner, to some extent can be considered to explain the presence of Universal salvific will of God in non-Christian religions that is, although, other religions do have some salvific tendency, but when a person is saved he is saved through the Godís salvific will through Jesus Christ. Thus according to Rahner the presence of God in non-Christian religions is the presence of Christ[3], therefore he considers Christ as the definitive and authoritative revelation of God fulfilling the salvific will of God, because for him the nature of God and person is only clarified and made possible through the historical and categorical revelation in Jesus.[4] This notion of anonymous Christian is criticise by various theologians, both exclusivist and pluralist.
John hick argues that :- 1. This term is offensive for non-Christians.
2.What if a devout Christian is called an anonymous Hindu or Muslim?

Rahner replies in this way: the term anonymous Christians refers to a reflection addressed by a Christian to his or her, and the churchís, own self-understanding and not to a Hindu, Buddhist or others.[/size][5] To this Gavin DíGosta, responses, that the underlying principle in Rahnerís Ďanonymous Christianí is a conviction which is applied to all, when a person is saved he/she is saved through Godís Grace.[6] Here one can ask a question if this is what Rahner means by the term Ďanonymous Christianí, then this is not applicable to Buddhist, as they do not believe in Godís Grace and salvation, for them it is a mere achievement of ones own meditations.

But unlike Hick, Rahner does not modify his statement, and stick to his affirmation Ėall are saved through Grace of God. From this he does not seem to be accommodative for other religions, but on the question of, what about those who have never heard? what will be there fate? Rahner simply answers that they can be saved through the faithful practices of their respective religions, and by doing so they will be anonymously following Jesusí teachings and thus they are anonymous Christians.[/size]
Here he is trying to be accommodative towards other religions, more or less affirming the tendency of salvific will of God in them, which is very striking and provides a contrast from exclusivistic and pluralistic approach. And it can be expressed as the beauty of inclusivistic approach- trying to see, find and seek salvation in other religions and their practices through Jesus Christ. [/size]

The exclusivistic objection to Rahner is, they call him pluralist when he obscures the sui genera and unique character of Christ and Christianity, by the term Ďanonymous Christiansí. Further more exclusivist like Kraemer is very declarative when he says that as a Christian he can only start from Christ and nowhere else. Rahner agrees with Kraemer on this concept of Christ as starting and ending point, but he goes further by saying, without Christology there is no ecclesiology and without ecclesiology there is no Christology. He used this notion to explain his position, that is the objection placed by exclusivists and tries to justify his claim of Ďanonymous Christianí- Godís grace is also present in other religions, this extra-ecclesial grace is always causally related to Christ and his church, even when a person has never heard of Christ. Bringing the extra-ecclesial notion leads to another justification made by Rahner, to answer the objection. This seems to be like a contradiction to the claim that there is no salvation outside church, made by exclusivists, and which is a very age-long Christian claim too. The notion of extra ecclesiology is not easily taken by pluralists, as they always stress on the concept of presence of salvific tendency in other religions, and do not accept the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. [/size]
Pluralists can object Rahner by calling him an exclusivist when he affirms that God is irreversibly and definitely revealed in Christ. John Hick would ask if this is the case then where the notion of Ďanonymous Christianí stand and how Rahner can justify that. But holding a pluralist view, it is difficult for Hick to accept the concept clearly, as he hold a philosophical approach in his thought and moreover his attitude is like one who looks down upon others, by assuming that he only knows the truth and the others are not able to grasp it or know a little or part of it. This is clear from the following quote when he calls Jesus as Godís agent and not Godís Son:[/size] was not he [Jesus] but his heavenly Father who saved. But Jesus was so fully Godís agent, so completely conscious of living in Godís presence and serving Godís love, that the divine reality was mediated through him to others [/size][8].
This quote clearly shows that, for Hick Jesus was a mediator between God and humans, but not the Son of God the saviour of humanity. This also shows that Hick affirms it that God is made known through Jesus Christ and one can encounter God through him but salvation is only in Godís hand and not through Jesus. But at the same time for Hick Jesus is both decisive and normative when he says, Jesus lived in the presence of God and made God known to us.[9] From this it is seen that Hick is making a slight move from the pluralistic approach of seeing all religions leading towards salvation. And it has been commented by Gavin DíCosta that when pluralists stresses upon the salvific will of God often they forget the basis of this axiom Ė Godís Universal salvific will is made known in and through Christ.[10] From the above comment Hick does not seems to fall in this category, but at the same time from the discussion above he is like the chief pluralist in the long list of pluralists.
[1] See Hick on Kraemer in G. DíCosta in Theology and Religious Pluralism, Oxford: Basil Blackwell,1986, pg 24.
[2]Hickís views as seen in G.DíCosta, Theology and Religious Pluralism, Oxford: Basil Blackwell,1986, pg Ibid, pg39.
[3] Rahner in G.DíCosta, Theology and Religious Pluralism, Oxford: Basil Blackwell,1986, pg84.
[4] Ibid, pg 82.
[5] Ibid, pg 89.
[6] Ibid,pg 90.
[7] See DíCosta on Rahner in G. DíCosta, Theology and Religious Pluralism, Oxford: Basil Blackwell,1986, pg 103.
[8] Hick as quoted by Gavin DíCosta, Theology and Religious Pluralism, Oxford: Basil Blackwell,1986,
pg 34.
[9] G. DíCosta, Theology and Religious Pluralism, Oxford: Basil Blackwell,1986, pg 31.
[10] Ibid,pg 45

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