blog: archive

October 11, 2006

General Theology

Identity Crisis

by Clay Staggs

One of the frequent themes that I hear in the preaching at Riverwood is our identity as Christians. Refreshingly, yesterday, the pope even got in on the act, urging Christians not to give up their unique identity for the sake of dialogue with other religions, which Reuters obligingly reads as Muslims.

This story both heartened and depressed me. On the one hand, it is a good thing to see the pope take such a stand. On the other hand, what a shame that any Christian thinks it necessary to give up our unique identity to engage the world and the adherents of other religions.

Undoubtedly, there is a political and theological angle to this. Many liberal theologians and liberal politicans believe that orthodox Christians’ claim to exclusivity of salvation is dangerous and arrogant.

It reminded me of an article that I read in USA Today a while back about three women, one Jew, one Christian, and one Muslim, who came together to discuss their various faiths. They called it the Faith Club, and wrote a book about it. The full article is here.

What got me was the quote at the end:

For anyone who reads the Quran or the Bible literally, rather than metaphorically or in cultural context, the women say, their views will be too liberal. For people who believe there is exactly one way to one heaven, described and delineated only by their own faith, The Faith Club may not offer a template. Yet to them, the women all offer a quote from Idliby’s imam, the prayer leader where she worships: “There is no temporal judge of faith on this earth.”

When Jesus Christ says that no one comes to the Father except through Him, I don’t know how to take that metaphorically or in cultural context. Moreover, there’s no reason that any Christian should take it at other than face value. After all, it’s pretty clear.

It’s good to see that this pope may not fall into the “Faith Club” muddle.

1. On or around Oct 12, 2006 at 1:51 p.m. Jeff Miller said...

I am constantly amazed that people want to make hay about Christian 'exclusivity'. Which religion is it that does not claim exclusive truth? After all, if a religion can't claim that it is true above and beyond other religious systems, what's the point? But I digress...

I once asked a visiting Hindu scholar if the way to awareness he was purporting was a means to an end, or an end in itself. That is, can a Muslim, Buddhist or Christian person achieve this awareness while maintaining their distinctiveness? I was surprised he let me set him up, but he did...

The answer was that in future lives the person would come back as a Hindu and then follow the correct path. Grrrr.

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