Pluralism and theology


Religious Pluralism and Theology

(Video Notes)

Is Christianity the only true religion?

John Hick asked this question at a talk in Norwich

Alan Race – ‘Christians and Religious Pluralism’ (1983)

Exclusivism – no other way to salvation other than Christianity

Inclusivism – other possible routes to salvation, if saved by Christ

Pluralism – many different routes to salvation


·         Other religions cannot lead people to the right relationship with God

·         Only by hearing the gospel and responding with faith in Christ can you be saved

·         This includes baptism, and giving up old ways of life (Implies Bonhoffer was an exclusivist)

·         Can be called ‘particularism’ to present it as less hostile

·         Watch Dr Andy Bannister

Narrow exclusivism

·         Only Christians within a certain denomination can reach salvation

·         Augustine in the 4th century and Calvin in the 16th century took this position

·         Through God’s grace only the elect will reach heaven

·         Catholic theologian D’Costa calls this view ‘restrictive access exclusivism’

Kraemer – ‘The Christian message in a non-Christian world’ (1938)

·         Exclusivist thinker

·         Leading figure in the Netherlands to bring different Christian denominations together (ecumenism)

·         Emphasised that in order for anybody to reach heaven they must first convert to Christianity

Karl Barth

·         Protestant theologian

·         Can be seen as an exclusivist thinker

·         Believes people cannot know God through their own efforts but that he chooses to reveal himself through, Jesus, the bible and the church

Approach to exclusivism

·         Do not be led by political correctness or fear of offending others

·         It is necessary to make it clear to non-Christians that their views are wrong and that they are in danger of damnation

·         Missionary work and attempting to persuade others to convert is a duty not a sign of your ignorance

·         Is this really the true Christian message?


Catholic Church

·         Associated with the motto ‘extra Ecclesiam nulla salus’ meaning there is no salvation outside of the church

·         However, attitudes began to change after the second Vatican ecumenical council in which old ideas were evaluated

·         This began a more positive and open response to other denominations and world faiths

·         However, there was still strict focus on Christ

Broad exclusivism

·         All people who accept Christ through their faith will be saved

·         D’Costa calls this ‘universal access exclusivism’

·         Salvation can even occur after death through the process of purgatory

·         Because Christ died for everybody, the route to heaven is open to all that accept him

·         ‘God our saviour desires everyone to be saved and


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