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Introduction to the Theology of Religions

Introduction to the Theology of Religions

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Introduction to the Theology of Religions

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  1. Introduction to the Theology of Religions

  2. 1. What is the Theology of Religions? • “Theology of religions is that discipline of theological studies which attempts to account theologically for the meaning and value of other religions.” • “Christian theology of religions attempts to think theologically what it means for Christians to live with people of other faiths and what is the relationship of Christianity to other religions.” Karkkainen, 20.

  3. 2. The Presence of Other Faiths Among Us “For the first time in world history it is impossible for any religion to exist in splendid isolation and ignore the others.” Hans Kung

  4. The Presence of Other Faiths Among Us • Religions have moved from being something which “out there” to also “here” • See Wilfred Cantwell Smith’s quote in Knitter, p. 5 • Also, John Habgood in Karkkainen, 17. • Forming a “dialogical community of communities” (Knitter, 8) • We are in a process of becoming, not static • Constituted by relation • Interelatedness without loss of particularity • Dialogue vs. monologue

  5. 3. A New Awareness of Plurality • Many Reasons, including: • Communication, travelling • Loss of institutional commitment • “Shrinking global village” etc. • Yet, religions have always existed side by side • E.g. OT Judaism, or early Christianity • So, what is new about our situation? • the pervasiveness, intensity of plurality • “Postmodern sensitivity” • Knitter, pp.7-10

  6. 4. The Challenge of Pluralism • Plurality • = the existence of many religions next to each other • Pluralism • = an ideology according to which there is a ”rough parity” between religions • Note: “pluralism” is an ambiguous concept and should probably be in plural, pluralisms!

  7. 5. The Challenge of Pluralism • Two Interrelated Reasons for the rise of Pluralism • (1) “From outside”: • other religions and “secular” pluralistic mindset • (2) “From within”: • Post-Enlightenment Paradigm Change in Christian Theology

  8. 6. Theological Parameters • God’s desire to save all (Optimism of Salvation) • John 3:16 • 1 Tim 2:3-4. “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” • Salvation only in Christ (Particularity) • What do we do with Acts 4.12? “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” or John 14.6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

  9. 7. In Search of a Paradigm

  10. a. Knitter (19850: Four Models (later modified) • Conservative Evangelical • Mainline • Catholic • Theocentric

  11. b. Modified “most typical”: • Exclusive (ecclesiocentric): salvation only Christ, available in the church; one has to respond to the Gospel to be saved • Scripture is divine, unique revelation • Christ unique incarnation; only in him salvation • Salvation found in church/community where God’s grace operates • Inclusive (Christocentric): salvation only in Christ, but its benefits go beyond the church and hearing the Gospel • Official position Catholic church • De-centering of church, re-centering on Christ • Church is main instrument of salvation, but God’s salvific work extends beyond its borders • Pluralist (Theocentric): all religions are more or less equal paths to salvation, they all point to the same G/god. Christ is one savior among many • Christ is not normative • God • Realitycentric(Hick): all religions point to the same Ultimate Reality • Note that these are not clear-cut categories • The first three are found in Karkkainen’s book ; though he has since modified these categories for this course

  12. c. Knitter: Introducing Theologies… • Replacement Model: • Christianity, the “only way,” replaces other faiths (either totally or partially) • Fulfillment Model: • Christianity is the “true” religion but it does not reject, but rather “confirms” good elements in others • Mutuality Model: • a “rough parity” between all religions; all ways lead to the same end goal • Acceptance Model: • there are real differences among religions and they are legitimate (different ends in different religions!)

  13. d. Corduan(Tapestry of Faiths) • Complete Continuity: religions form a “seamless web” • Complete Discontinuity: an impenetrable wall between Christianity and religions • Continuity on the basis of superiority and inferiority: Christianity has “more” (or complete) • Discontinuity on the whole with some commonalities: even though Christianity is unique, there are important commonalities

  14. 8. Key Players • John Hick: The “mother” of popular pluralism • Catholics: • K. Rahner and H. Kung • P. Knitter and R. Panikkar • Protestants • K. Barth and H. Kraemer • L. Newbigin and W. Pannenberg • M.M. Thomas and S. Samartha • Evangelicals • N.Anderson and Clark Pinnock • H. Netland and V. Ramachandra • Pentecostals: • A. Yong • V.M. Karkkainen

  15. Some Questions • Is Christianity the only religion in which salvation can be found? • Is Christ the only one in whom salvation can be tied? • Is revelation found only in Christ or are there other sources of revelation, including other religions? • Where do other religions stand in God’s providence?