Religious Pluralism and the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ



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Religious Pluralism and the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ

Religious Pluralism and the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ

Lesslie Newbigin

In his 1987 Lambeth Lecture on "Religious Pluralism and Its Challenge to Christian Theology," the director

of the World Council of Churches unit on interfaith dialogue, Wesley Ariarajah, speaks of "a current . . . about to become a flood," exercising an overwhelming pressure on people of all religions to "become aware of and to cope with a religiously plural world."' That pressure has already led a group of well-known Christians to announce—under the title The Myth of Chris­tian Uniqueness—their conclusion that the claim for uniqueness must be abandoned.2 The July 1988 issue of the International Review of Mission (IRM), containing addresses and discussions centering on the celebration of the jubilee of the 1938 Tambaram Confer­ence, gives further evidence of the power of this current.3 It is fed, of course, not only by arguments that are, properly speaking, theological and philosophical, but also by the pervading feeling of guilt in the world of Western Christendom, and by the over­whelming sense of need to find a basis for human unity in an age of nuclear weapons. As always, there is a strong temptation to go with the current, but even a small acquaintance with history is enough to remind us that what seem to be overwhelmingly powerful movements of thought can lead to disaster. Critical re­flection is in order.


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