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THEO 403 (Fa '14) T14 - A Theology of Religions

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Hartmut Scherer

on 30 November 2014

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Transcript of THEO 403 (Fa '14) T14 - A Theology of Religions

Lesson adapted from Timothy C. Tennent, Invitation to World Missions -
A Trinitarian Theology for the Twenty-first Century (Kregel, 2010), 191-226.
A Theology of Religions
Christianity claims . . .
that the basis of the Christian proclamation is a transcultural source.
- God, the Father is the source of all revelation
- consider the relationship between
special revelation
special revelation is nothing more than specific symbolism of the general revelation
true knowledge is found only in Christ and the Scriptures
Exclusivism or the Replacement/
Partial Replacement Model
- affirm the unique authority of Jesus Christ as the ultimate revelation
and the norm by which all other beliefs must be critiqued
- affirm that the Christian faith is centered on the proclamation of the

historical death
of Jesus Christ
- believes that salvation comes through repentance and faith in
Christ’s work on the cross
Inclusivism or the New Fulfillment Model
- affirms the first two of the three claims of exclusivists
- differs in a particular view regarding universal access to the gospel
- differs in the necessity of a personal knowledge of and response to
Jesus Christ
What is their reasoning?
Reasons for Inclusivism
- If every human being has been objectively provided redemption in
Jesus Christ through the cross, then it must be possible for every
human individual to become personally eligible to receive that
- John 3:16 + 2 Peter 3:9 -> God’s universal love for the world;
-> everyone must have access to salvation
- this access has been made available through general revelation,
God’s providential workings in history, and even other religions
- salvific grace is mediated through general revelation
Pluralism or Mutuality Model
- rejects all three claims held by exclusivists
- claims that world’s religions provide independent access to salvation
- all claims to exclusivity have been surrendered through a process of
radical relativization
- conflicting truth claims are reconciled through relocating them from
the level of objective, normative truth to subjective experience
- the only universal
of criteria rests in
human experience
not in any particular sacred texts
Postmodern or Acceptance Model
- declares that there are no universal truths
- it is arrogant to declare that such truths may exist
- acknowledges that world religions really are fundamentally different
from one another
- Robert Frost wrote: “Good fences make good neighbors.”
- metaphor: "many paths up one mountain"
- metaphor: "many paths up many different mountains"
1) This model rejects objective revelation as the basis for truth by
redefining truth as socially constructed narratives
2) This model has a very weak view of history
3) This model leads to an unrestrained relativism
1) This model does not take seriously the actual claims and practices
of those who practice the religions that are being considered
2) The “God” of the pluralists is so vague that it cannot be known
and is, in fact, unknowable
3) The pluralist position ultimately is based on the subjectivity of
human experience, not on any objective truth claims
1) Inclusivists drive a wedge between Christ’s work and the human
response of repentance and faith
2) Inclusivists shift the emphasis from a personal response to Christ
to the experience of faith regardless of the object of faith
3) The inclusivist position separates soteriology from ecclesiology
4) To call Hindus or Muslims or Buddhists “anonymous Christians” has
long been regarded as an insult to those within these traditions
1) In a desire to affirm the centrality of special revelation and the
particular claims of Christ, exclusivism can fail to fully appreciate
God’s activity in the pre-Christian heart
2) Exclusivists sometimes have been unwilling to honestly engage
with the questions and objections of those from other religions
3) Exclusivists have often unnecessarily bracketed off non-Christian
religions and their sacred texts from the rest of culture
3 Major Structural Problems of All Models
1) All models have been primarily articulated within a
soteriological framework
2) The positions within the models have been understood
as either validating or negating particular religious traditions
3) The traditional models emerge out of the Enlightenment
project and completely ignore the Majority World church and
their understanding and experience with religious pluralism
Building a Theology of Religions
1) An evangelical theology of religions should be able to
embrace the positive qualities of each model
2) An evangelical theology of religions should be articulated
within a Trinitarian context
3) An evangelical theology of religions should embrace the principle
that the Bible is central to our understanding of God’s self-disclosure
4) An evangelical theology of religions needs to be positioned
within the context of the missio dei
5) An evangelical theology of religions should be also be catholic
General Revelation
Special Revelation
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