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Response of Christian Thought to Pluralism

Response of Christian Thought to Pluralism

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Published by Ifechukwu U. Ibeme
EXCLUSIVIST, INCLUSIVIST, PLURALIST, HIERARCHIST, or whatever view of Christian understanding of its relationship to science, other faiths, cultures, philosophies and worldviews, the basic biblical precept of the Kingdom Gospel and mission is that the humanity is lost, perishing and dead in their sin, is enslaved by the devil, is under divine wrath and condemnation (John 3:35-36; Eph 2:1-3) and in dire need of eternal salvation only possible by divine intervention; which salvation has been powerfully accomplished and graciously offered by God through Jesus Christ (John 3:13-19).
EXCLUSIVIST, INCLUSIVIST, PLURALIST, HIERARCHIST, or whatever view of Christian understanding of its relationship to science, other faiths, cultures, philosophies and worldviews, the basic biblical precept of the Kingdom Gospel and mission is that the humanity is lost, perishing and dead in their sin, is enslaved by the devil, is under divine wrath and condemnation (John 3:35-36; Eph 2:1-3) and in dire need of eternal salvation only possible by divine intervention; which salvation has been powerfully accomplished and graciously offered by God through Jesus Christ (John 3:13-19).

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 1
RESPONSE OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT TO PLURALISM
By Venerable Dr Ifechukwu Ibeme
Comment on The Chapel of Grace Blog: 
The purpose of Gospel mission is to bring all humanity to know and do God’s will, to worship God
in spirit and truth and to be saved from depravity, demonism, and damnation into
God’s
 eternal Kingdom through Christ (Act 26:15-18).
Christians today adopt various views to non-
Christians’
hope of eternal salvation offered in the Gospel. EXCLUSIVISM:
 this view holds that there is salvation only for Christians.
 INCLUSIVISM:
this view holds that, although salvation is by definition Christian salvation, brought about by the atoning work of Christ, it is nevertheless in principle available to all human beings, whether Christian or non-Christian; that good and devout people of other faiths may, even without knowing it, be regarded as "anonymous Christians" or that non-Christians also are included within the universal scope of Christ's salvific work and their religions are fulfilled in Christianity.
 PLURALISM:
 this view holds that, the great world faiths, including Christianity, are valid spheres of a salvation that takes characteristically different forms within each
 though consisting in each case in the transformation of human existence from self-centredness to a new orientation toward the Divine Reality. The other religions are thus not secondary contexts of Christian redemption but independently authentic paths of salvation.
HIERARCHISM
: this view which derives from apostolic Gospel proclamation (
kerygma 
) and apostolic Gospel teaching (
didache 
), holds that all religions and cultures of all humanity are at best proto-Christian or sub-Christian stages of either FAULTY HUMAN GROPE WITH INSTINCT FOR GOD (Rom 1; Act 17) or FRAIL HUMAN GRAPPLE WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD (Heb 1; Gal 3-4). Therefore, in order to obtain eternal salvation for kingdom heritage, humans would necessarily have to repent of their failure and progress to receive the grace of
divine help
 through faith in the
Christ’s
redemptive
 
work (by His passion and power), and through the acceptance of Christ’s
Gospel uniquely
revealed
 in the Scriptural apostolic witness (Eph 2-3).
 The word RELIGION
which refers to human response in relation to any superstition supposition speculation or human reverence in relation to redemptive revelation
) is derived from Latin
RELIGIO
 = supernaturally
constrained
 attitudes, beliefs, experiences, powers and practices or
RELIGARE
 = scrupulously
restrained
 
attitudes beliefs experiences powers and practices. Today’s
liberalism with its antireligious, irreverent, rebellious, and self-willed philosophies have given religion a bad name as faiths and forms that are antisocial, intolerant and deceptive because of religious rules and regulations
 often designating RELIGION to mean religious organisations or regulations; but prefer SPIRITUALITY which is designated to mean unregulated spontaneous
spiritual worship and lifestyle or personal “salvation” experience. Hence many in the Church and other religions are averse to the word “religion” or “religious” and claim they are not religious:
they would prefer to describe themselves as spirituals, spiritualists, using spiritual powers or living in spiritual relationship. Religions and Spiritualities in the world today offer or seek different concepts of SALVATION e.g. Christian redemption-ransom, rescue-release, regeneration-restoration, Non-Christian self-realisation) from bondage e.g. Christian
sinful nature, divine wrath, demonic deceit, damnable death, error-ignorance
, Non-Christian
karma, reincarnation and matter
) which may not satisfy the salvation concepts of the others. RELIGION can be defined as the human spiritual relationship or human ritual response or human rational response of faith in, fear of, fervour for, experience of and reverence for God, gods and numinous powers. Religions have belief systems about the divine, the spiritual and the sacred, expressed in behaviour systems of ritual forms, religious community, numinous experiences, ethical values and mystical practices.
Note that both the religious and the irreligious have their kinds of “God” and “gods” which
regulate their worldviews and behaviours such as:
 
the Monotheists’ ALMIGHTY CREATOR God, (Author of order)
 
 
the Mystics’ UNIVERSAL MIND/FORCE god,
 
the Evolutionists' RANDOM SELECTOR goddess, (author of confusion)
 
 2
 
the Scientists’ “NATURAL LAW” goddess,
 
the Secularists’ “AS YOU LIKE IT” god,
 
the Polytheists’ specialised or tension gods and goddesses, and guiding/guardian spirits of
beasts, masters, heroes, heroines and ancestors.
A parallel comparison of PAGAN “spirituality” versus CHRISTIAN Spiritualit
y is important at this point.
Spirituality is the conviction that humans have spiritual nature and could live spiritual life. Piety has to do with faith in and submission to God Who has revealed Himself to the biblical Prophets and through Christ. To be pious is to be god-fearing. To be impious is to be self-serving or god-hating. There are subtle but far-reaching differences between PAGAN impious spirituality and CHRISTIAN pious spirituality. PAGANS (Platonists, Gnostics, Neoplatonists, Kundalini Mystics, New Age Theosophists) teach that
the human spirit is illuminated or “saved” (through intuition, contemplation, ecstasy or initiation) in order to be “free from inhibitions by moral creed, mores and matter for attainment of limitless potential”, being led
by spontaneous persuasion and passion to self-actualise personal choice, dream, happiness, power and pleasure in the hope of attaining utopian love and peace. Some Christians unwittingly integrate or syncretise this impious and pagan spirituality into their faith. CHRIST and His Apostles taught that the human spirit is saved or redeemed (by divine grace
through penitent faith in Christ) in order to be “free before God from demonic bondage to error and self and divine damnation for sin”, being led by th
e Holy Spirit through moral principles and examples found in the Scriptures of the Law, the Prophets and the Apostles to please God and do His revealed will on His earth. This is the piety. Common elements and concepts shared by most religions are the beliefs in the
repercussion of MORALS
 and the
powers of RITUALS
. Religions are of two main classes but three broad types:
1.
 
Nature Religion
:
PRIMAL
, polytheistic, pantheistic, idolatrous, deistic and cyclical religions
 e.g. animistic and monist religions, totemic and nature worship religions, ancestral worship religions, and Hinduism.
2.
 
Founder Religion
:
 
 3
(i)
PHILOSOPHICAL
: atheistic, agnostic, polytheistic, pantheistic, idolatrous, deistic and cyclical religions
 e.g. mystic religions, Buddhism, Shinto, Tao, Bon, Confucianism, Gnosticism, Jainism and Sikhism (Sikhism
is Islamic Buddhism = monotheistic and cyclical 
) (ii)
PROPHETIC
 
: monotheistic and eschatological religions
 e.g. God-seeking (
theoreunatic 
) religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and
Baha’ism.
 
In contradistinction to THEISM, the belief in an immanent God who actively intervenes in the affairs of men, the word DEISM is used to represent the view of those who reduced the role of God to a mere act of creation in accordance with rational laws discoverable by man and held that, after the original act, God virtually withdrew and refrained from interfering in the processes of nature and involvement in the ways of man. The Deist God has left nature to forces of natural properties and left humanity to personal and popular preferences. In the deistic treatises of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, five religious ideas were recognized as God-given and innate in the mind of man from the beginning of time: the belief in a supreme being, in the need for his worship, in the pursuit of a pious and virtuous life as the most desirable form of worship, in the need of repentance for sins, and in rewards and punishments in the next world. Herbert held that these are fundamental religious beliefs that had been the possession of the first man, and they were basic to all the worthy positive institutionalized religions of later times. Thus, differences among sects and cults all over the world were usually benign, mere modifications of universally accepted truths; they were corruptions only when they led to barbarous practices such as the immolation of human victims and the slaughter of religious rivals. Polytheism and idolatry turn every want and wonder into god or goddess based on one legend, myth superstition or another. For instance, WANTS such as health and wealth are met with GOD(DESSE)S of health and wealth, while WONDERS like thunder and sun are met with GOD(DESSE)S of thunder and sun.
The Christ came down from heaven to graciously grant us the blessed experience of
eternal salvation
 into heavenly spiritual blessing that by far outweighs and outlasts all blessedness humanity may think, imagine, ask or ever know (Eph 1:3-4, 17-23; 3:16-21): whether by all
human actualisation
 and all
human speculation
 or even by
prophetic revelation
. From Christ’s
dialogue with the Samaritan woman in John 4:19-
26 and St Paul’s introduction to his Epistle to the
Romans 1:18-32 and his sermon at the Athenian Areopagus in Acts 17:18-34, we learn that through Spirituality or Religion, humans
instinctively
 
SEEK TO RELATE
 WITH AND REVERENCE GOD but to succeed, need HELP by the TRUTH of Divine Revelation and GRACE of Eternal Salvation through Christ. Otherwise, humanity being HINDERED by the ERROR of human mystical supposition and syncretism and being HOODWINKED by the FRAUD of demonic manipulation,
eventually
 
ENDS UP RELATING
WITH AND REVERENCING
THE “GODS” (e.g. mistaken “God”,
demonic spirits, dead ancestors, natural object and natural or spiritual forces). Without God reaching us, humans cannot succeed to reach God (Mat 11:27; John 6:44; 14:6-7). These other PRIMAL, PHILOSOPHICAL and PROPHETIC non-Christian Faiths/Religions and their cultures, unaided by Divine Revelation and the Redeeming Grace of Christ despite whatever gross demerits and limitations, may have their few frail merits. However, ONLY CHRIST EFFECTUALLY SAVES ETERNALLY FROM EVERY BONDAGE TO
ORDINANCES
 (sinful repercussions and evil powers) AGAINST US, whether of Jewish
Law and ritual regulations
 or of Gentile
Rudiments and spiritual manipulations
 (Gal 3:22-26; 4:1-10; Col 2:9-17). Only Christ has the ultimate
POWER
 that saves from every bondage to dark territorial PRINCIPALITIES of
spiritual error
 and from every bondage to wicked celestial POWERS of
spiritual evil
 (Eph 6:10-12; 1John 4:1-6). Only the Divine Christ has made or could ever have made the valid ATONEMENT/
PROPITIATION
 that saves from human DEPRAVITY, demonic DOMINATION and divine DAMNATION (Col 1:12-23).
EXCLUSIVIST
,
INCLUSIVIST
,
PLURALIST,
 
HIERARCHIST
, or whatever view of Christian understanding of its relationship to science, other faiths, cultures, philosophies and worldviews, the basic biblical precept of the Kingdom Gospel and mission is that all humanity
 
is lost, perishing and dead in their sin,
 
is enslaved by the devil, is under divine wrath and condemnation (John 3:35-36; Eph 2:1-3) and
 
is in dire need of eternal salvation only possible by divine intervention; which salvation has been powerfully accomplished and graciously offered by God through Jesus Christ (John 3:13-19). Christ was preordained in eternity before all time by God to judge the living and the dead but was presented and proved in time to be the Christ and the eternally reigning Son of God by His incarnation, resurrection and ascension (Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rom 1:2-6). The basic biblical

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