Religious pluralism is the greatest challenge facing Christianity in today's Western culture. The belief that Christ is the only way to God is being challenged and, increasingly, Christianity is seen as just one among many valid paths to God. In Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World, four perspectives are presented and defended by one of their proponents, and then critiqued.
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“Inclusivism believes that, because God is present in the whole world (premise), God’s grace is also at work in some way among all people, possibly even in the sphere of religious life (inference). It entertains the possibility that religion may play a role in the salvation of the human race, a role preparatory to the gospel of Christ, in whom alone fullness of salvation is found.” (Page 98)
“If we define salvation as being forgiven and accepted by God because of Jesus’ death on the cross, then it becomes a tautology that Christianity alone knows and is able to preach the source of salvation. But if we define salvation as an actual human change, a gradual transformation from natural self-centeredness (with all the human evils that flow from this) to a radically new orientation centered in God and manifested in the ‘fruit of the Spirit,’ then it seems clear that salvation is taking place within all of the world religions—and taking place, so far as we can tell, to more or less the same extent.” (Page 43)
“The term inclusivism is appropriate insofar as it connotes that salvation encompasses all cultures” (Page 15)
“Pluralism, which argues that many religions are salvific, on first glance” (Page 15)
“For people to claim that they see the big picture while Christians and others see only part is tantamount to imperialism, unless it can be demonstrated that there is a universally available public knowledge open to general scrutiny and critical evaluation.” (Pages 157–158)
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Dennis L. Okholm is a Benedictine oblate who speaks frequently in church and youth group settings, and serves as assistant pastor at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Costa Mesa, California. He is also professor of theology at Azusa Pacific University and adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. Okholm is the author or editor of many books, including Monk Habits for Everyday People, The Gospel in Black and White, and Evangelicals and Scripture: Tradition, Authority, and Heremeneutics.
Timothy R. Phillips was associate professor of historical and systematic theology at Wheaton College, where he was instrumental in starting and organizing the annual Wheaton College Theology Conference. He is also the coeditor of Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World, Care for the Soul: Exploring the Intersection of Psychology and Theology, and The Nature of Confession.