Published by the Center for the Study of The Great Ideas (founded in 1990 by Mortimer J. Adler and Max Weismann)
In association with the The Adler-Aquinas Institute and Aquinas School of Leadership
Member of the Alliance for Liberal Learning

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Are all religions equal?

Scheduled for 1:00pm–2:30pm Eastern Time, Plenary Session 1.
Welcome by Peter A. Redpath, President of the International Étienne Gilson Society and CEO of the Aquinas School of Leadership

Session Chair: Terrence Berres (The Center for the Study of The Great Ideas). Information about the Center for the Study of The Great Ideas and roundtable discussion: William F. Buckley Interview of Mortimer J. Adler: “Are all religions equal?"

(interview transcript at The Hoover Institution or at the Internet Archive)

Speaker: Curtis L. Hancock (Rockurst University): “Truth in Religion: Exclusivism, Pluralism, or Inclusivism?”

The expression, “truth in religion,” can mean many things. Arguably, the most sensitive question about truth in religion is whether salvation is through one religion (say, Christianity) or available through many, if not all. The question prompts consideration whether it is only a minority of religions who make salvation a central doctrine. Regardless, some religions profess to be salvific. Christianity, as traditionally interpreted, is conspicuous for its teachings on salvation. Christians cannot ignore Jesus’ declaration on the matter: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one goes to the Father expect through me” (John 14:6). Accordingly, most Christians historically have judged that salvation belongs to Christianity alone. However, in a pluralistic, perhaps relativistic, age, people find such a view exclusionary and intolerant. Pluralists, like John Hick, propose that it is unenlightened to believe that non-Christian religions are not salvific. Pluralists propose that salvation is available through any religious communion. How does the Christian reply to Hick and the pluralists? One answer (often championed historically by Evangelicals) is exclusivism: the belief that someone in a non-Christian religious communion cannot be saved. This view is subject to clarification and criticism. Another answer (coherent with Catholic soteriology) is inclusivism: the belief that, since God is not bound by geography, culture, or history, his salvific grace can be extended to people whose allegiance is formally outside the Christian communion, even to those who do not know Jesus’ name, provided that their faith is motivated by a desire to know the one, true God, who is Jesus as the second person of the Trinity. This view has been advanced by Karl Rahner in his discussion of the “anonymous Christian.” The genius of inclusivism is that it coheres with God’s love and does not condemn people to be eternally separate from God because of sociological circumstances. It accomplishes this while maintaining the integrity of Catholic theology on the nature of salvation.

Livestream of video from the Conference will be at the Holy Apostles College and Seminary YouTube Channel.

Next session scheduled for 2:30pm.

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