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Theology e-magazine
To make humanity united in worshipping God

The Joy of Religious Pluralism Our Heavenly Patron

This issue titled The Joy of Religious Pluralism speaks about
the need to understand the religious otherness we encounter in
our daily life from a Catholic point of view. To this aim we call the
attention to the theology of Jacques Dupuis on pluralism.
We shall keep the following assumptions of Dupuis in mind,
while analyzing his project. He understands
1. The difference between recognizing the legitimacy for distinct
traditions and to assert these aims are compatible with the
Christian view.
2. We need to cautious about the danger of syncretism.
3. Reject any attempt to build a world theology or universal
theology as a common venture binding on various religions.
4. We are to more positive to the comparative theology correctly
understood.
5. We need to recognize the ecclesiality of the non-Catholic
Christian Churches.

We need to understand every genuine
religions stems from the covenant and is also
way of salvation made by God. -Bede Griffiths
To set forth a troublesome voyage is a daring act
especially when one is not sure where it will lead
Page - 02
him.

Trinitarian Christology
Dupuis fashions in such way that his idea will adequately
place the interpersonal relationship in Trinity. Jesus is said to
be at the center of the Christian mystery, this is not to
Jesus
be understood in an absolute sense. Fr om a theocentr ic
himself was point of view it is true that God stands beyond Jesus.
entirely God- The pneumatic aspect
centered and of the Christology
thereby he would show how Holy
Spirit accomplishes
never
Jesus in his earthly
substitutes the
ministry from
Father and conception till
there is an ascension.
unbridgeable Salvation History (SH) and Covenant
distance The Christian understanding of God’s intervention in
between the human kind is of historical one in a divinely preordained way.
Father and The concept of salvation history is an important hermeneutical
key for Christianity’s self-understanding and for the
Jesus in his
understanding how it situates itself in relation to the world.
human
 How we can appreciate positively other religious
existence.
traditions’ role in salvation histor y keepin g the
centrality of Christ event is comprehensible and realized in
the history in a concrete way.
 We also need to inquire whether other religious traditions
have an abiding meaning in God’s universal saving
design for humankind.

Dupuis dared such to travel into unearthed fields of theology of religious pluralism
and could move beyond the exclusivist, the pluralist paradigms that are considered
as mutually contradictory, and excluding each other.
But the problematic is whether there is only one
Page - 03 general SH or special SH and one or many
covenants.

Salvation History (SH): Particular or Universal?
How do we understand the SH in cosmic religions outside the
Abrahamic-Mosaic streams of religious traditions.?
He affirms that that salvation history ‘coincides and is co-extensive, with the
history of the world. He rejects the concept of prehistory since it separates salvation
and revelation each other, such a concept proposes two undue observations.

Firstly, Secondly r evelation r em ained h idden in pr e-
prehistory implies history till God’s revelation to Abraham. The Biblical
some natural injunction in 1Tim2:4, ‘God wills all human beings to be
revelation of God saved’, he writes God’s saving wills cannot be reduced
through created to some conditional wish. If then, the world and history
reality, but not able to always bring with it the divine self-manifestation –in
procure salvation. varied ways– and offers way of salvation.

Humans have the possibility to reach the supernatural
goal of life, direct union with God in grace by accepting
God’s self-communication present in the order of creation.
Standing on the shoulders of Karl Rahner Dupuis
argues that the universality of this concrete human
condition necessitates that,
there is a single unique history of salvation, of
revelation and of the offer of faith which co-
exists with the world history.

Various historical religious tradition may serve as mediation
in positive manner to benefit this salvation particular to their
In doing so they may be considered as followers.
willed by God as they give concrete shape
to the universal salvific plan of God which
is operative throughout human history.
Page - 04 General and Special Salvation History

From a Christian point of view Christ event is the mid-point in the linear
unfolding of the history of salvation dividing the regime of salvation into pre-
Christian and post Christian history. But there is a discrepancy when we try to
equate this double schema ‘pre-Christian’ and ‘post Christian’ with ‘general’
and ‘special’.

Christianity considers Israel’s position in Jesus Christ event is the pivot

SH as not general but special. There is a unifying upon which the whole dialogue

bond between Israel and Christ event and such a between God and man emerge.

bond does not emerge in other religious But this does not make us
traditions. to construct a
Christomonism of
salvation history.

Dupuis “In such a schema, Israel is
historically pre-Christian but belongs to
the special SH, while other people’s
history is pre-Christian and belongs to SH
generally.”

So with the idea that Christ event brought the advent of special SH making the
general SH past and obsolete is not proper. Therefore our intention is to explain:
How does general history of salvation procure salvific role for
other peoples?
To inquire whether special salvation history extends beyond the
Hebrews Christian tradition?

The centrality of Christ event does not in no way obscure the
universal operative presence of Word of God and the Spirit of
God, especially in the other religious tradition even outside
Christian dispensation of grace.
The document of the Theological Advisory Commission of the Federation of
Asian Bishops Conference (1987) observes that Page - 05

God’s saving and revealing act can be found in other religious
tradition from
 the fruits of spiritual life, a sense of sacred,
 a thirst for self-realization,
 taste of prayer,
 desire for renunciation,
 a total surrender of the self to God etc.
The distinction between general and special SH is that in Hebrew-Christian
traditions God’s revelation-salvation becomes more thematized and categorical.

How to combine theologically the presence of the Spirit and Word
in extra-Biblical history of salvation in the historical event of Jesus
Christ. He explains it in tw o w ays.
 Firstly, here again Dupuis relies on the scholarship of Rahner who showed that
the Christ event is the goal or the end of the anticipated presence and
work of logos and the Spirit.
 Secondly, he uses the category of time and eternity in explaining the Trinitarian
and Christological involvement in SH, that our knowledge of historical unfolding
of salvation is made up of past-present-future.
Nevertheless, in God’s eternal awareness and knowledge everything is ‘co-
existing, co-simultaneous and interrelated’. To quote Dupuis, “the action of the
Logos, the work of the spirit and the Christ event are thus inseparable
aspects of a unique economy of salvation.”
The Logos-Wisdom and the Spirit were operative in pre- Page - 06

Christian times. A retrospective reading will make us understand
that they were the two distinct persons within the mystery of the
Triune God.
Dupuis stresses the Trinitarian aspect that “the spirits…
presence and activity are universal, limited neither by space nor
time. The Spirit... is at the very source of human persons’
existential and religious questing.”

One and Several Covenants

For the advocates of the one covenant theory, the one universal covenant with
Adam stands out specially. Dupuis quotes A. Rizzi when he says that the covenant
with Abraham and Moses is not a new covenant; rather it brings to self-awareness of
that relationship.
“Jesus is not the founder of Christianity, but rather the re-founder of the
universal covenant.” He then concludes, Judaism and Christianity are the two signs
of one identical reality.
Such an interpretation that it can
provide a continuity in the history
of salvation from creation to Jesus
Christ fails heavily in pointing the
newness brought forth by Jesus.

He discusses St. Ireaneus who considered four distinct covenants and he
comes with his affirmation that “SH develops throughout successive covenants and
Christian tradition has rightly valued all four of these successive divine covenants in
Adam, in Noah, in Abraham, and in Christ.”

The symbol of Noah & the convent
God struck with him is an everlasting
covenant with the nations of extra-
biblical tradition. These people are
also a covenant people. And deserved
to be called people of God. The one
God is the God of all peoples.
Page - 07 The Covenant Never Revoked

The biblical assertion of St. Paul in Romans 11:29 that ‘people of God of the
old covenant, which has never been revoked’ a useful tool in understanding the Old
and the New Covenant.
The question being discussed here is,
Whether the covenant struck with Noah, Moses have become
obsolete and been abrogated as often the Christian tradition affirmed?
Whether Jesus substituted the former one?
Though the document decreed by the Council of Florence, Decree for the
Copts (1442) teaches the Old Testament or Mosaic Law lost their efficacy with the
advent of Jesus Christ, the document further says that till the promulgation of the
Gospel they render efficacy. But he asks us how to interpret the phrase
‘promulgation of the gospel’.

He finds that even Rahner’s assertion that the personal conscience of one as
accepting the faith in Jesus Christ can be considered, as the promulgation of the
Gospel to him, does not solve the problem. Therefore he looks back to the Bible for
an answer which he finds in St. Paul who said “has God rejected his people; by
no means (Rom 1:1) and St. Paul w h o explains “the gift and the call of God
are irrevocable.” (Rom11:29)

Whether Jews are saved today by the old Covenant with
Israel or through Jesus Christ?
Whether extra-Biblical religions are saved due to the cosmic
covenant or through Jesus Christ?
Dupuis answers the first question as follows. A dichotomy between the old
covenant and the new covenant is invalid and the old covenant is brought to
perfection by Jesus. The covenant made with the Israel (Jews) “remains even today
a way of salvation, but not independently from the Christ event.” And Dupuis
continues in the same vein “so also the cosmic covenant made in Noah with
nations has not been cancelled by the fact that in the Christ event the goal that was
set for it by God has reached.”
To Conclude: We wind up by the striking comment made by Card. Decourtray of
Lyons, who at the end of a long discussion on the universal presence of the Holy
Spirit in nations, remarked somewhat angrily: “If we are not willing to affirm
that much, we had better go home and forget about publishing a
document”.
Editor: Tony Maliyekal VC Published from Vincentian Vidyabhavan, Aluva.