Saturday 4 July 2009

Dan Clendenin on the Gospel and World Religions

In preparing for a sermon on John 14:6 (‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the father except through me’), I came across a post by Dan Clendenin – ‘Is Christianity a “Sublime Bigotry?” 10 Reflections on the Gospel and World Religions’ – in which he briefly expands on ten reflections related to religious pluralism.

1. Some religious views and practices are clearly false, harmful, and even despicable.

2. The claim that all religions teach the same thing is patently false; this is precisely what religions do not do.

3. Pluralism tries to solve this problem of contradictory truth claims in two ways (agnosticism, or the identification of a ‘common essence’ in all religions).

4. Christians need not reject everything about other religions.

5. The conundrum of relating 10,000 religions to each other is not a ‘Christian’ problem.

6. I agree with the liberal Jewish writer Michael Kinsley that it’s not wrong or intolerant to try to convert other people.

7. A rule of thumb in Bible interpretation is to understand the complex and ambiguous parts of Scripture in light of simple and straightforward passages.

8. Instead of discarding what you don’t like in Scripture and ending up with a Bible that reflects only your own biases… Christians should hold together two broad themes (God’s desire that none should perish and Jesus as God’s ultimate means of salvation).

9. Exactly how the universal love of God and the particularity of Jesus fit together isn’t clear.

10. Finally, a long time ago I quit trying to understand everything and admitted the many limitations of my knowledge.

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