Contemporary theology is mainly a study by academic researchers. The subject also discusses religious philosophical problems and draws Christians as well as non-Christians to seek information on topics. The intentions of some individuals are therefore very different from those pursuing religious knowledge in order to lead a more spiritual life as a Christian. Those who want to follow the Word of God properly should concentrate most of their time on the Scriptures itself. There are three major people who fall into the Contemporary Theologies of Religion.
One of them is John Hick, who utilizes exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism in his works as forms that Christians see the claims of truth surrounding other religions. With Hick using these categories in his writings, he has popularized them. These three categories will be talked about in the book with the pluralism of John Hick, the inclusivism of Karl Rahner, and the exclusivism of Lesslie Newbigin.
The first one is The Pluralism of John Hick, “He is one of the foremost spokespersons of pluralism, a position he took in his 1973 book God and the Universe of Faiths and has refined in numerous books and articles since” (p.355). As defined in the book pluralism is the belief that the world’s religions are true and equally powerful for liberation freedom or salvation Christianity is not only the only way to salvation, but one of many, according to Hick. Hick proposes that world religions like Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism have the same purpose which moves from self-centerednessto reality-centerdness.
In that position he arrives not just through a concise study of convictions of the various religious traditions but also through material covered by the doctrine, theology, history, and phänomenology. On page 356 the book states that “These concerns lead to two main points.” The first is that it is necessary to discard the claim of Christianity to either an exclusive or inclusive salvation and, second, pluralism is right since all religions save.
The book then goes on with Hick’s Objections to Exclusivism and Inclusivism. Huck could not accept claims of Exclusivism about the absolute and finality of Christ and the Christian faith. Hick was a member of Christianity but was willing to give it up. Hick recognized that criticism of the New Testament is prone to change its unity from generation to generation, and he states that scholarly belief that Jesus claimed to be God’s son is no longer generally held. He also went on to claim that the true meaning of the Incarnation is not that God actually fathered Jesus but the Holy Spirit serving as a male parent. Except that he is God’s Son in the sense of being ‘the saving point of contact'(as stated on p.356) with God.
The book goes back to Hick and Pluralism by saying that “Pluralism is Hick’s term for the way the religions are related to truth: the major religions share equally in the truth of salvation”(p.362). There is not only one way but multitude of means of salvation or liberation. Hick acknowledges that the world is ambiguous. We may view our daily experiences in a religious way or in a non-religious way. How one person believes to be a religious experience may not be interpreted by others in that manner.
In comparison, encounters can be viewed by Christianity, but also through Islam or Buddhism. Based on experience, proving that religious belief is right leads Hick towards pluralism, since it relate to all religions. All religions tend to be in the same position, that no religion can prove its claims to God rationally. All faiths contain Spiritual encounters.When no religion can support their claims and if knowledge is what provides the basis for belief then all religions must be handled with respect and taken seriously.
The correlation between religions contradicts traditional Christian claims that if Christianity was truly the’ right’ religion then better people would be created. Hick was born into a Christian family, but he argued that Christianity could not be the only true religion. Hick’s pluralistic assumption remained the most recognizable model of religious pluralism. It is important to recognize that every religion holds their own belief that they think is true that others may not.
The next part is The Inclusivism of Karl Rahner where “Inclusivism is that position which affirms the salvific presence of god in non-Christian religions while still maintaining that Christ s the definitive and authoritative revelation of God”(p.368). Rahner was more interested in non-Christian religions general facts about their traditions than he was in the details of their belief systems. Most Christian inclusivists believe that Jesus was truly God incarnate and that his death should be understood in the traditional way as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
However, unlike the exclusivists, they believe that non-Christians will go to heaven and that there is no need to have clear faith in Jesus or to be members of the Church. Inclusivists would argue that their stance is superior to pluralism because it maintains the central identity of Jesus and of the Church, and that religions often teach contrary things.
One would also imply that their position is superior to exclusivism since it is naturally founded on Christian values which exclusivists tend to ignore. This also encourages religious non-Christian beliefs. Rahner argues that the only true faith is Christianity. Jesus dies on behalf of human sin and through grace he helps men to be saved. For salvation, the death of Jesus was necessary.
The grace should instead be expressed by religions that are not Christian.Religions that mediate the goodness of Christ are legitimate religions. Non-Christians who are behaving as Christians still have God’s favor in their life. Karl Rahner mainly adheres to the Catholic religion because Christ saves humanity and all people have an opportunity to be saved. An individual doesn’t have to know Him to be saved personally. Rahner also insists that not every missionary effort should be abandoned. If that person has an understanding of a Christian offer of grace, his chances for salvation are better.
Last category is the Exclusivism of Lesslie Newbigin, a respectful spokesperson who has had many years of contact and acquaintance with non-Christian religions.Newbigin believes Jesus Christ to be the only one brought to the earth for the salvation of people and the world by the true God and personal creator.“History is important to Newbigin’s exclusivism in two ways”(p.384).
The first is to corroborate the history of the Bible. Secondly, history is the secret to the systematic interpretation of the Bible by the exclusivists. In finality and personal faith, Newbigin acknowledges Pascal’s argument that everyone has to reply after hearing Jesus claims; all of them must make their decision. “All Evangelicals are exclusivists of some kind or other but not all exclusivists are evangelicals”(p.396).