Theology Olivia-Mae 10/10/17
To what extent does a theologically pluralist approach undermine the central doctrines of Christianity?
A theologically pluralist view is the view that there are many different ways to salvation through different religious traditions. The other two approaches are that of inclusivism and exclusivism (including narrow and broad). These contrasting views and approaches bring about the soteriological problem; can people of a non-christian religion or that hold no religious beliefs still gain salvation?
Gavin D’Costa identifies as an inclusivist because to him, it doesn’t make sense with the central beliefs of God being an omnibenevolent being that he would condemn millions of people to hell sometimes through no fault of their own. He also believed that pluralism didn’t work in line with God’s grace; it severely undermines Christianity and all loyal Christians. If anyone can gain salvation through any means, then what would be the point in being a Christian at all? It would seem that those who have dedicated their lives to living as good Christians and following Jesus’ example could still have found salvation through another means, which defeats the whole point of being a Christian in the first place. This is a logical analysis of the different approaches to salvation, which makes D’Costa’s argument a convincing one. A contrasting view to this is that of Kraemer’s. Kraemer was an exclusivist which means that he believed that the only means to salvation was through Christ. He believed that salvation could not be gained through any other faith systems, and can only be achieved through Christianity, which means that if anyone from another religion desired salvation then they would have to convert. He argued that either religions accept the salvation offered by Christ or they don’t. Whilst on the surface this approach may seem logical, when looking deeper, it doesn’t seem as likely. Whilst it is true that Jesus is the one offering salvation, and there are many Bible quotes to back this up (eg. ‘No one gets to the Father except through me’), this approach also goes against one of Christianity’s most central beliefs - Jesus’ teaching of ‘Love thy neighbour’ which goes hand in hand with the notion of agape love that most Christians attempt to live by. It may be acceptable to not give salvation to those who have heard the gospel and rejected it, it makes no sense whatsoever to suggest that an omnibenevolent God would reject those who have not even heard the gospel and had a chance to react to it, for example they may have lived in a time beforehand or their culture may not be exposed to Christianity. It would make more sense to offer other ways to salvation for these people, even if keeping Christianity and Jesus Christ in the centre.
A view that supports Kraemer’s is Karl Bath’s. Bath believed that God chose to reveal himself through Christianity; through Jesus Christ - the...