Theology of World Missions - Lesson 12

Theology of Missions in Relation to World Religions

Dr. Timothy Tennent points out that the spread of vibrant Christianity in areas of the world besides the west, and the clash of Christianity with major world religions outline the framework for the focus of world missions.

Peter Kuzmič
Theology of World Missions
Lesson 12
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Theology of Missions in Relation to World Religions

Theology of Missions in Relation to World Religions


1. Contemporary perspectives

2. Different approaches to the study of religion

A. Historical approach

B. Phenomenological approach

C. Theological philosophical approach

3. Christian missions and world religions

4. Three general attitudes toward other religions

A. Discontinuous position

B. Fulfillment position

C. Dialogical position

D. Summary of the three positions

  • Dr. Kuzmic provides a framework for the class based on 6 specific statements about a theology of missions. Our theology determines our worldview. We must live as citizens of two kingdoms. We need a theologically grounded missiology and a missiological focused theology.

  • Dr. Kuzmic talks about how God saved him and about his cultural background in Eastern Europe.

  • Developing your spirituality and practicing prayer are important elements in achieving a well-balanced theology. The Creator of heaven and earth is Lord of the nations. God promised to bless the whole world through Abraham. Throughout history, different people have applied that promise as a right of privilege for themselves rather than a call to service to others. God calls people, then sends them.

  • The book of Psalms is one of the greatest missionary books in the world. Isaiah's description of Messianic fulfillment at the end of history is a reminder of the role of Messianic people within history, similar to the "already but not yet" of the "kingdom of God" in the New Testament. Quiz questions are included at the end to clarify what Dr. Kuzmic thinks are the important points and because he includes some commentary on central issues of missions.

  • Professor Doug Birdsall first discusses the work of the Church in Asia. He then talks about 3 aspects of missions work: 1. Forming partnerships, 2. Sending churches, 3. Funding. One of the fastest growing groups of the Church in China is composed of urban intellectuals. In India, Mongolia, Nepal and Cambodia, in addition to China, there are great opportunities as well as challenges.

  • Doug Birdsall continues by describing how to establish cross-cultural partnerships. Some of the most important considerations are determining what the needs are, selecting national leaders wisely, and planning for the national leaders to take complete control at some point.

  • 80-2000 project The scope of the Great Commission includes both the nation of Israel and the whole world. Matthew chapters 9 and 10 describe people as lost (sheep without a shepherd) and valuable (the harvest is plentiful). Jesus saw and had compassion. The heart of missions is seeing people the way Jesus sees them and loving them the way Jesus loves them.

  • Discussion of the meaning and application of this key passage of Scripture.

  • Joanne Harding about the AIDs crisis in Africa. It is a tragedy and a major challenge for world missions. A panel of experienced missionaries discusses the calling to be a missionary and practical ways to prepare to be a missionary.

  • Dr David Hilborn, Head of Theology Evangelical Alliance in the UK, discusses the theological framework of universalism, its historical development and the impact that it has on missions.

  • The political and religious climate in Yugoslavia creates unique challenges for people who are preaching the gospel there.

  • Dr. Timothy Tennent points out that the spread of vibrant Christianity in areas of the world besides the west, and the clash of Christianity with major world religions outline the framework for the focus of world missions.

  • Dr. Timothy Tennent shows how Christianity compares to other world religions by citing case studies of discussions with individuals of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Evangelicals must engage more seriously and more profoundly in the thought world of other religions.

  • What does Christ have to do with culture and what does the Church have to do with the world? Isolationists separate themselves and cannot have a significant impact on the world around them. Secularists identify with the world by compromising core beliefs to match the culture and don't have an impact because they are no different from the people around them. The Church often evangelizes from a distance instead of entering into the lives of people.

  • People will often respond more positively to the Gospel if you first find common ground in practical areas and use culture as a bridge for the Gospel into the world. The Gospel has to be forwarded to a new address for every generation.

  • Chuck Davis from Africa Inland Mission describes mission work in Africa and his personal experiences in Congo, Chad and other African countries.

  • The Gospel is a message that addresses sin in the lives of individuals and transforms society in areas like justice and charity.

  • World missions is a fundamental theme throughout the Bible. The book "Christ and Culture" proposes four models to explain the relationship between the Church and the world. Some people emphasize scriptures that focus on evangelism and others emphasize scriptures that teach the importance of meeting peoples' physical needs.

    Note: The David Bosch Grid and Hans Kung Paradigm chart may be posted in the future but are not available at this time.

  • The Lausanne Conference on World Evangelism provided a forum for Christian leaders from different countries and denominations to establish some common goals and principles for communicating the Gospel and caring for people all over the world.

    Note: The David Bosch Grid and Hans Kung Paradigm chart may be posted in the future but is not available at this time.

Dr. Kuzmič provides a framework for a theology of world missions based on a biblical worldview. We must live as citizens of two kingdoms. Our missiology needs to be theologically grounded, and our theology, missiologically focused. The documents that were written by delegates at the Lausanne Conference on World Missions have had a significant influence in defining and encouraging the practical application of a biblical view of world missions.

Theology of World Missions
Dr. Peter Kuzmič
Theology of Missions in Relation to World Religions
Lesson Transcript


As you can tell, I'm not Dr. Which. He was unable to come tonight because he's in Croatia. I know you're totally shocked. He was anticipating coming back. But actually, I often come into this class and give this lecture anyway, because one of the criticisms that we all have with bias, we like David Bosch a lot in his work, but is that he does not really deal adequately with the context of world religions. So tonight is going to be dedicated to talking about the theology of missions in relation to world religions. Let's spell in prayer. Lord, we praise you. We thank you for this opportunity to reflect and learn about a very important aspect of our preparation for ministry. We pray you bless this class. We do pray you would be with Dr. Kuzma as he is traveling back from Croatia and his meeting with the Prime Minister there. We prayed, Lord, that you would continue to help this class to further its objectives and all that takes place. We ask in Jesus name, Amen. One of my concerns about anybody that goes to seminary nowadays is that. We actually think about. The actual living context that we're in. If you were in the church history class this week, please forgive me for repeating this quote, but I am still struck by this quote that I read in the paper just a few days ago, The Boston Globe, where the pope, as you I'm sure saw in the paper, elevated 30 bishops to the level of cardinal. And this, of course, is big news. And they were talking about different people. One of the bishops that was elevated was a Scottish bishop. Patrick O'Brien. Patrick Michael O'Brien. I mean, it's pretty predictable. He's obviously not from Africa.


This nun, this Catholic nun was there and see Peter's Square so happy that one of her Scottish comrades has been elevated to become a cardinal. It's pretty unusual for a Scottish. You know, anybody Scottish to become a cardinal or anybody, I mean, is difficult if you're to be a cardinal at all. It's a pretty small group. I think they only got 130, um, in the world. She was waving the Scottish flag and she was all excited. And at some point, one of the reporters interviewed her. And in the interview, she said this comment just discussed the pope's age and so forth. Then she went on to say. Well, it's it's a tough time for anybody in religion around the world today. Now, when she says religion, she means Catholicism, because that's the only religion she knows. And she says, because the churches are getting and this is an exact quote, the churches are getting emptier and emptier and there's just no young people anymore. Now, what struck me about that is that I found it incredulous. I wear what church is this woman looking at? Well, she's from Scotland. She's actually from AD or Southern Scotland. And her presupposition behind the whole comment is that Western Europe must still be the center of the whole Christian faith. And therefore, if things are bad in Scotland, it must be really bad in China or anywhere else beyond the borders of the UK. So I think we suffer from that a bit in the sense that we we have to retool our whole thinking to recognize that Christianity is growing and is in a state of vibrancy around the world in ways that we can hardly imagine. If your ethnicity is in the West. Now, the other thing about that that's interesting is that we are still slaying German liberals.


You know, we go to seminary and we spend a lot of time learning how to respond to a German Protestant liberal whom we'll never meet. And if we did, would it matter? I mean, I mean, I'm looking at the 21st century. All of us in the 20th century mattered a lot because that was the that was where the battle was being fought. But 100 years later, that's not where the battle's being fought. That's an important issue. It's obviously important to know how to respond to Bornemann because Voltron arises in many ways around the world. But realistically speaking, the greatest challenge and the real nexus where the gospel meets culture today is not in Germany or in Scotland or in America. But it's in the challenge that the faith is being met by Islam. Hinduism and Buddhism. This is really the big challenge that we're facing and how we can spend so much of our time preparing to respond to a German liberal Protestant will never meet. And ignore 1.2 billion Muslims that are actually living and breathing out there that are mostly interacting with the growing edge of the church, especially in places like Nigeria, East Africa and Kenya, and in India with the Christian growth in India with Hinduism. So it's really important that we think about our theology of missions in relationship to other religions. It's really, really critical and we need to do a lot better job in talking about this, thinking about it. And evangelicals have got a lot of catching up to do in this area. We've got to really spend a lot more time thinking about how the gospel responds to Buddhism and put as much energy into that as we have put into responding to the various challenges from Protestant liberalism.


So this night is designed to least help you think about some of that and to talk about some of those issues that are before us. So I'm hoping that we can have plenty of time for I don't know if this classes this course is pretty big, but hopefully we have time for interaction and thoughts from anybody that would like to share it. What I want to do, if I can get this projector to to go ahead, is you look around the world. At the so called 1040 window, which is considered the place where we have the greatest number of unreached people groups. It's an area dominated by Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. And just look at the 1040 window across North Africa where you have Islamic peoples, the Middle East. From Islamic down into Central Asia, India, which is largely Hindu and on into Southeast Asia with Buddhism. And far out into the Far East. Other Chinese religions, Confucianism, Daoism. If you really look at where most unreached people groups live today, they're living in a place where that is already dominated by another world religion. So it isn't like we have vast millions of people who are just kind of in a, you know, waiting for the missionary to arrive kind of person, this kind of living in a void somewhere. Now, I know these people are already already belong to a war, religion, a major religion, and therefore we just simply cannot afford to ignore the challenge this represents for us. So what I want to do to start with is to talk about various ways that people approach the study of religions from a Christian point of view, not necessarily evangelical, but kind of the way the kind of larger field has has worked in terms of methodology.


All three of these approaches has validity in itself. We're going to try to look at some positive things by all of these, but also there's some aspects of each of these will find bit troubling as evangelicals that we need to address. So when you're looking at any writing about Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, especially, we'll look at those three tonight and little case studies. One of the first questions you should ask is what is the approach this person's taking? What is the overall methodology? And as you can see in the handout, there is a three basic approaches that I'm wanting to to mention in passing here. The first is an historical approach. This is very common. We do this a good bit in our classes here, at least in the first part of the course, where you simply look at the historical rise and development of a particular religion. How did Islam emerge? You look at the birth of Muhammad in five, 560 A.D. you look at the rise of the revelations of Muhammad, the rise of this Muslim movement, his death in 632. You just examine kind of basically what went on in the Mohammed's life. What are the basic contours historically of Islam? That's an historical kind of a look that can be done by a believer or an unbeliever. Just someone with good historiography. Skills can do a basic study of the historical rise of a religion like Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, whatever. And so a lot of what's out there tries to talk about Islam from a pure historical point of view and has a lot of validity to it's important study to be done. But some people mistakenly think that that is basically what people do when they approach other religions. They talk about it historically, but that's actually not at all the case.


Another really important way that and this affects a lot of the so-called dialog movement. Is what we call phenomenological. This refers not so much to the history of the rise of Islam or Buddhism as much as it does the experience of a muslim. Or the experience of a Buddhist, the religious experience of a Hindu. So this is looking at it not from the perspective of history, but the perspective of experience. This is an existential kind of look, what is the kinds of things that a typical Muslim might experience Now, if you take a Christian and you would make to ask the same questions. There might be huge difference. Well, there are huge difference between a Quaker and a Pentecostal and a Protestant liberal and a Catholic or whatever in terms of their religious experience. And how they have experienced Christianity. So in the same way, Islam is very is very varied in terms of people's experiences and what Islam means to them in their particular experience. So rather than going back into your history books, this would be often done through talking to people who are actually Muslims and saying, Well, what does it mean to be a muslim? And what does it mean to you to be a muslim? And that's a very, very important way that discussion often occurs. The third and final one that we'll look at tonight, though there are many others kind of variations of the easy. The three main ones is kind of a theological philosophical category where essentially you're trying to look at the entire history of the religion and the experience of the religion, and it's how it's experienced and articulated by a living community and trying to isolate what are the great theological themes, what is the worldview, the religious worldview of this religion.


So we all know from our own experience that we we have the historical rise of Christianity, we have the emergence of the biblical text, but we have a long history of theological inquiry about it, which is reflective not only of the text, but also of our experience as a living community of believers throughout the history of the world. This is exactly the same with Islam. Islam has the Koran, but it also has a document called the Hadith, which is the experiences of Muhammad, some particular stories about Muhammad's life. And this becomes the corpus of their reflection. And that is come into a lot of theological parameters for what is allowed, what is not allowed, what Islam does. And that's a constant changing thing. There are many, many examples of how this could be seen to be changing. We all have. Theology has to address new questions that arise. So in the Christian tradition, there's no way the Bible could address, for example, something like nuclear weaponry. But at some point that had to be addressed. How should Christians respond to the possession of nuclear weaponry or in Islam? Right now, Islam is asking the question about passive martyrdom as opposed to active martyrdom. Because Islam has always embraced martyrdom, but it's always been seen as passive more than if you're in the battlefield and you get killed, then Allah will bless you in the afterlife. But what about somebody who kills themselves for the cause of Allah blowing themselves up like a Palestinian suicide bomber or obviously like the 911 where you fly a plane into and you kill yourself. That's a different kind of suicide. Suicide versus martyrdom is a very huge theological debate going on among moderate Muslims today. So that means new questions arise.


Every religion has that. And so the theological kind of constructs of religious experience and tradition and history are borne out in all of this. That affects how religious experience and history is talked about. It affects how we approach other religions. What is the methodology we are talking about? What are we doing? And we'll see as we develop this about how this really has affected the way Christian and non-Christian dialog has taken place. Any question or need for clarification on any of these three kind of general categories of overall approach. The next section has to do with Christian missions and world religions. And as you might imagine, as this whole development of discussion has continued. We have a lot of really important developments in terms of how Christians themselves have felt about other religions. So we're trying to see, okay, can we talk about a Christian attitude toward other religions? Now, I have here some pie charts to show you what group we're talking about. The 34% of the world represent people who call themselves Christians. The 21 represents Islam, 14%. Buddhism, 6%. I'm sorry, 40% is Hinduism, 6%. Buddhism. And then there's a pretty large non-religious category. So we're looking at actually at this point, how this group. What is their attitude toward those in these three groups here? That's the kind of basic question we're trying to address tonight. 40% of the world fall in those three categories. That's that Is there 40% of the people in the world overtly belong to another religion? There's at least another 25 that are kind of in a religious category. But 90% of unreached people groups fall in this category. So it's a huge concern that we want to address. As I said earlier, I think the importance of recognizing that we it is not enough.


To simply say that Christianity is unique. Or that the claims of Christ are normative, though that's true is simply isn't enough simply to say that. Because we no longer live in a world where that kind of we've never actually live in a world where that kind of thing has been acceptable. The vast majority of people simply have never believed it. And therefore, as long as we lived in kind of a Christendom monolith of Christianity, it's like we're all in the choir, you know, so we all can kind of assume we're under a kind of an umbrella of agreement on this. And so for some period of time, European civilization and by extension, North America could. Could live out their lives as if there was a general consensus of the truth of Christianity. But throughout most of church history, that has not been the context of the living Christian faith. It's been very often lived out in the context of a great amount of unbelief. So actually, we're in a situation today which is far more like the first century than we've been in some period of time, certainly since the Reformation. So we're now in a entirely new situation where Christians sitting, where you're sitting or where I'm standing, are now forced to engage in a meaningful, hopefully somewhat coherent conversation with members of other religions because they now have honest questions. I've never believed that, though this element is there, that the average Muslim, for example, is like just totally adamantly full of hostility toward Christianity. That element is there, of course, but the vast majority of Muslims would actually really enjoy to sit down with around a cup of tea with you and talk to you and ask you a lot of questions they have unanswered in their heads.


I spent some time doing research on this in North India, and we I spent two years trying to isolate what are the questions that Hindus typically ask a Christian when they come into their village to propagate the gospel? What we found is that. The many Hindus just have a lot of honest questions. It isn't necessarily that they're already predisposed to be hostile. They just simply have a lot of questions. And therefore we need to recognize that we now must recognize the Christian uniqueness happens in the context of a pluralistic world. And that to me is liberating. And that's exciting because that's where you're forced to articulate your faith, not in a kind of a ivory towered theological construct, but in the context of living questions, loving people who really want to know what how do you respond to this or that issue? It's very exciting. So. Let's see kind of how this is played out in terms of Christian interface with other faiths. What I'm going to do tonight briefly, is to outline for you three general attitudes toward other religions. We're not talking about mythological approaches. That would be a subset among all three of these. We're talking about just the general attitude. If you were to ask somebody, what is your belief about Islam as an evangelical Christian or as a Christian, what would be their response? What kind of attitude we find and we essentially have three basic camps. I think there's actually a range of positions which can be delineated maybe. I think actually about seven different positions, but I think they generally fall within three broad camps, and I think it's worthwhile going to have 3 hours. So we're going to have to find a way to kind of crystallize this in the three basic camps.


The first position. In what we call the discontinuous position. Discontinuity. This is found, I think, quite profoundly present in writers like Henrik Kramer and Carl Bard. I think in those two writers you find this exemplified. Though it's present in many fundamentalist and other evangelical writings as well. But I think discontinuous here represents an attitude that would essentially say that Christianity. Is totally, absolutely discontinuous in thought and purpose and construct from any other religion. And therefore the two simply do not meet. They are completely discontinuous. It would focus on the absolute uniqueness of Jesus Christ. And therefore, since there is no other one who can possibly compare to the true incarnation, then any kind of comparison or dialog between other religions is merely futile. Because the minute you sit down with a muslim at the table of dialog, then it may imply by virtue of your presence there that we are talking about something similar. When Jesus Christ, to use the language of Carl, Bart is the great singularity, you know, the great unique breakthrough of the human race to which there is no parallel. So that would be very, very much along the lines of what you'd find in the writings of these figures. Hendrick Kramer. Wrote a very well-known book. It's one of the most important books in the this field entitled The Christian Message in a non-Christian World. He wrote this. He actually articulated his thoughts as early as 1910. The book came out in the early 1930s, but a very, very important, influential book, and it influenced tremendously the kind of the way missions, the way mission thinkers thought about other religions. And of course, Carl Barks writings should be at least somewhat aware of who has articulate the whole Christian faith in the context of Christ and did not want to seriously reckon with any kind of general revelation.


And once you deny John revelation, then it becomes very, very difficult to have a position other than a discontinuous one. So therefore you find this quite prevalent in Bart's writings. They also emphasize the uniqueness of Revelation. Again, a strong theme in BART that the Bible represents a totally unique and singular revelation from God. All other writings that will be the Koran or the the Vedas and Hinduism or the Dome of of Buddhism or whatever. These writings are expressions of the natural man. To use the kind of the famous analogy that you often hear, a famous kind of statement, Christianity is God reaching down to humanity. Other religions are somehow humanity trying to reach out to God. So you can't compare these two things. One is God's self-revelation. One is human thinking, human aspirations. This is very common in the writings of the discontinuous view. All religions are simply human attempts to justify oneself before God. The Christian revelation is about God saying that all that has failed. You need the unique initiative and breakthrough of Christ. Therefore the only context of interface. In other words, the only. Basis through which a Christian would talk to a muslim or a Hindu would be in the context of conversion to convert him or her to the Christian faith. This is the again, all of these three points are found in a myriad of ways in the writings of the discontinuous view. Now, this raises a number of issues. I guess in some ways this is a repeat or a summary what we talked about, but this discontinuous definitely emphasizes the radical invoking of the incarnation and you can hear verses. There is salvation and no one else. So therefore, why talk about satiric ology in Islam when we had the clear message from the Bible, there is no salvation, no one else or no one comes to me as the father draws them.


These kind of text are very powerful texts that are used in this discussion. The other is the uniqueness of revelation. All Scripture is God breathed. That's a very powerful statement. We don't make that statement for any other text. We draw a clear line between biblical revelation and non-Christian, various texts like the Koran. Jesus says all others are thieves and liars. It isn't. He doesn't say that all others are friends and comrades. This position takes very seriously. Human sinfulness and the Fall. We were dead in our trespasses. And since that doesn't indicate any kind of life in other religions or other experiences and therefore the deadness of humanity again. KOLBERT Quite powerfully on this point. So I think we can recognize this position as being there. That's definitely a position. I think the position has some weaknesses. Has a lot of strengths, but also has some weaknesses. So we'll have to do some evaluation. But is there any question at all about the basic position? We're not at this point evaluating it, but just the basic position of discontinuity. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, that's a good point. I should be clear when I say there's no context for dialog, I don't mean. What I tried to say was that the only context for dialog is a conversion motif somewhere in there. They are all quite happy for Christians and Muslims to engage with one another, but they must never engage as equals. It was always engaged in the context of a My main agenda here is to convert you. I'm not going to learn from you. And so in that sense, I think Chris is valid. It's a bit of a one way street. But they would argue it's a valid one way street because the Muslim has nothing to offer you redemptive lay there for.


You know, the only hope is for him to hear her to listen to you. That's kind of what there would be saying. This has to be revisited, of course, and I want to make some further thoughts about it. But the dialog would be a dialog in relation to and a conversation about the Christian faith and the call to conversion. And anything else will be a prelude to that. Did you have a question? Okay. All right. Okay, let's look at the next position, which is known by the term fulfillment. This has been popularized by R.C. Zener. And by a guy named John Faulkner who wrote a very well-known book. These are books in our library entitled The Crown of Hinduism. This position tries to find parallels among religious traditions. And what it essentially argues is that even though the Christian faith is unique. It doesn't really deny a lot of the statements made by the discontinuous people. Christianity is unique and the gospel is normative. They're not disagreeing with that point. The real question in terms of fulfillment is what is the relationship of the Christian faith to prior religious commitments, or in what way has God or could God have prepared people to receive the gospel? So could God be working in a sense, before the missionary arrives or before the gospel witness person shows up? And could religious traditions be a part of that preparation of the gospel? This is some of the questions they begin to raise. I think to give you a little historical view on this. This debate between fulfillment and this continuous goes all the way back to the history of the church. This is not a modern debate. If you read, for example, a guy like Tertullian, he is clearly in the discontinuous camp.


What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? He says, put away any discussions of a stoic or platonic Christianity. I will nothing after knowing Christ. That's to tell you. So Tertullian is saying don't talk about continuity between your Greco-Roman, Hellenistic past and your Christian future. This is a divine in breaking Christians, a subculture, all of that. Whereas a guy like Justin Martyr other hand is very much sees that God used the Greek philosophers to lift him out of paganism, and from that road he's able to jump on to the Gospel road. And he saw it as a stepping stone, and he never saw that as a particular problem. So in some ways, theologians are talking about. Can there be some way in which the gospel completes aspirations that are already present? So it's like saying somebody has an itch and they can't quite it's that itch. But Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism is providing some kind of scratch there, and you can get some partial relief. But ultimately it's satisfied in Christ. But at least you're reaching your groping, your your you're trying to find you're asking ultimate questions, as it were. So they point out many parallels between religious traditions. And they try to demonstrate how all noble religious aspirations ultimately find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. I think of another book by a man named Eric Schaap, entitled Not to Destroy, but to Fulfill. Of course, again, drawing from Christ on words and what he offers, by extension, is to say, well, everybody acknowledges that Christianity fulfills the Old Testament. There's not a serious disagreement about that in the Christian community. So if the gospel fulfills aspirations, hopes, dreams that are in the prophetic community and in the larger Jewish tradition, then in Christ is the fulfillment of that and would even argue that presumably there's no greater fulfillment than that which occurs in the Jewish Christian kind of access.


But they go on to ask, well, could that possibly be occur in a lesser way in other traditions? Could Islam in some way function this way? Could Hinduism function this way? Could Hinduism prepare someone like a tutor? Paul Talk about the law as a tutor that leads you to Christ. Could there be things in Islam which can lead someone to either find, Gosh, you know, Islam just doesn't meet this need and they look further and find Christ or in some way points beyond their own tradition. This is these are the questions they begin to ask. So they essentially argue that all true, noble aspirations find their fulfillment in Christ, and they therefore have a much more expansive view of general revelation. Because if you have a strong, discontinuous view, you will really downplay or like bar obliterate any talk about general revelation. And the only revelation there is a special. It's God's in breaking the biblical revelation in Christ. Whereas general relation says, well, you know, wait a minute, God has not left himself without a witness. And God's present. And the you know, we we see his witness in the starry sky. We see his witness in the human conscience. Even a unbeliever will be felt guilty about certain things. And all that's part of God's working and calling and wooing and all this. They're trying to show that continuity there between people's various aspirations and how Christ fulfills it. And then, of course, they are trying to demonstrate a continuity between your non-Christian past and Christian present. It's a show, as I've already said, God's prior action. You find Karl Bart, for example, who condemns very strongly what he calls the whole idea of logos, our circus, a idea of the word apart from the flesh.


Don't talk to me about Christ apart from Jesus of Nazareth. And yet, as you know, in history, this has been a huge discussion in the church. In what way is the logos to use the language to John active apart from the incarnation. So could there be ways in which, like Justin Martyr argues what he calls the logos, broadcast the seed of the word that is present in people and wooing them, pointing them to the true logos, to the fulfillment of the logos. So the seed is kind of scattered abroad, and he sees it in Judaism, he sees it in other Greek philosophies. And because of that, he sees this as there's some continuity with your path. If a muslim, for example, reads in the Koran as he or she would do, and it says in the Koran that God created the world in six days. That's actually stated in the Koran in six days, God created the world. Okay. You become a Christian. You open your Bible and you read the same things said in the Bible. How do you feel about the last, you know, your previous belief about that? What is the continuity? The Koran says God created the world, that God is holy, God is almighty, all powerful or whatever, whatever. And what way is that a continuity? Those are questions that the fulfillment theologians are constantly asking. These writings are really helpful by Zener and Farquhar Horror forecasts book The Crown of Hinduism is in our library. You can pick it up, and it's widely believed to be the most thorough exposition of this. Even though it's a book that came out some years earlier. What are the issues they raise? They really hit pretty hard the whole idea of seeing God's work in Christ, even in ways that are apart from the incarnation.


They generally accept some idea of what we call logos theology. The presence of the logos working in people's lives. As John says, the true light that gives light. Every man is coming into the world. They believe this light is present and people will be led by that light to the true light of Christ. But there's no doubt that supremely this manifested in Jesus of Nazareth. But they're acknowledging that this. Can be found in other context. They are very strong on seeing the continuity and the relationship between general revelation and special revelation. So the Bible does not just drop out of the sky. It comes as a way of completing what God has already begun through the natural order of your conscience. Primarily those two things, but other ways in which God has generally shown himself to be the true loving God. So you can see a beautiful sunrise. You can see the crops in the past as the rain falls in the just and the unjust. And so just a general acknowledgment of God's power and majesty are generally known. That's important to these theologians. Very, very important. One of the problems that this encounters, as I've tried to do with each of these, lay out at least one thing the thought that the whole fulfillment idea assumes that Christianity is the camp which fulfills and completes all previous religious aspirations. Now, if you are an experiential phenomenon ologist, we look at the phenomenology of religious experience and you're talking to the living faith of whatever Muslim or Buddhist, okay, that kind of language can happen. But this is where if you're a historian, you have to raise serious questions about this view because historically, Islam, Sikhism and by particularly those three are fairly widespread religious beliefs.


The first two are world religions have come after Christianity. So therefore, it's very difficult to talk about the fulfillment thought when you have another religion that appears after Christianity and doesn't see at all how Christianity in any way fulfills its aspirations. In fact, Islam does just the opposite. Islam claims that it fulfills Christianity. Sikhism claims it fulfills Islam and Hinduism. And so both of these religion and by of course, claims they fulfill everybody. These are religions that articulate themselves in the context of Christianity. You cannot understand Islam without knowing. In the seeds of Islam itself is a Christian response, which does not obviously exist in Christianity. You cannot understand Christianity apart from Judaism. You cannot in Islam or from Christianity. Because Islam articulates itself in the light of Christian claims. So, you know, these are issues that we have to in my book where I deal with some of these issues. I point out a well-known Indonesian group that claims that Islam is the fulfillment of Christianity and really, really takes us to task for kind of the audacity to believe that we fulfill their aspirations. No, we fulfill your aspirations kind of thing. So this is something that is definitely part of the discussion. Okay. Any general thoughts, comments about this position? We're going to try to do a little more evaluation a moment. But right now, just trying to put on the table. Are you clear about the difference between the discontinuous idea and the fulfillment idea? Yes, I read it. Right. The book is by Dan Richardson. It's a well-known book. It is definitely an example of fulfillment theology. I would say that it is on the on the very moderate side of this discussion, because this discussion has and that's why I said this actually many suppositions.


He represents kind of the modest view of this in terms of he's not going to be taking this to a point to say that there is a non historical Christ at work in the world. But he is saying very clearly that there are ways in which God prepares people before he arrived to receive the gospel and he takes John revelation very seriously in that. Yeah, definitely. In that book. Yes. Definitely. One of the questions is raised in general about the in this view is in what way? And as well as the next view and what way has God revealed himself to people outside the covenant? So it includes not only the wise men, but a whole range of people from Melchizedek to Jethro to you name it, people that are outside the normal orbit of Judaism. And the boundaries of Judaism becomes a huge part of this discussion, and the Magi are certainly a part of that. Yes. There are no. Then revelation is a fact and therefore it's always present. And therefore it is by virtue of its presence from the day you're born, it is there as a default. Whether it's a prerequisite, do you have to have it to lead you to special? I don't think that would be an agreement among this group at all. They just different views on that. It's not trying to there is actually a quite an interesting discussion about whether or not general aviation is a subset of special or is special a subset of general. That's a debate even here on this campus among our faculty, because it's because special also reveals about general. There's certain people whose view of Scripture would say that you cannot have any knowledge about the creation, even that the creation is a general testimony to God unless he revealed that to us, which is back to special.


So it's actually unclear how these relate in terms of any consensus, and there's certainly no agreement among fulfillment theologians on the point. It's a good question, Yeah. Jenner revelation refers to revelation that would be available to all people everywhere. They would not need any special breakthrough information. So, for example, not need actions they need. They just simply general are just that which is available to everybody. Special is that which is made available through specific initiatives by God that particular to certain people or groups. So if you look at the Bible or the Incarnation, those are specific things that God did reveal himself, but not everybody is aware of it. Whereas the sunrise and sunset and the weather and the human conscience, these are all things that are present in the whole human race. And so that general category of general special sun is called natural and supernatural. This is all different terminology for the same thing. That distinction is made to try to say, what does everybody know about God in what can only be found out through God's initiative? Mainly through the text of Scripture and through the incarnation. Those are the two main ways. Right. It's a great question. And again, that's a matter of some discussion because everyone agrees that an evolution should give you at least that much information that God exists. Hebrews 11 one who believes must, must believe that God exists, who comes to us believe that He exist. You have Paul saying, Since the creation of the world, God's invisible attributes, his eternal nature have been clearly understood through what has been made so that none are without excuse. Romans one. So kind of God's presence is there. But the question arises, well, can we know anything else about God? Not only that he exists, can we know, for example, that he is just.


Can we know that? There is a real again, a matter of a lot of debate, because even unbelievers who never heard of the Christian revolution or ever heard of the Bible, if they're walking down the road and they see a child fall into a lake and is drowning, they will feel compelled to pull the child out. How do they know that? What kind of capacities are present in creation and the created order. Can we say for them that God is the God of order because the creation is so orderly? What can we know about God? The analogy is often used of if you were to go up on a walking down the beach and you see a beautiful white wash up on the beach, a beautiful hand, you know, finely multi jeweled watch, you wouldn't believe that the ocean just coughed it up. You recognize behind that, you know, design demands, designer the whole kind of that whole arguing for the existence of God. So by looking at a watch, you can observe it and look and take it apart and say, this is obviously made by a very fine craftsman who had knowledge, who had orderliness and so forth. So while looking at creation, it's like a thousand times to the thousandth power, greater and complicated. Beauty and sophistication than a watch and so cannot therefore tell us about God's knowledge. He must be incredibly knowledgeable. He must be very powerful. He must be very orderly. I mean, these are these are extensions from create an order. So that discussion goes on. How much how far can you extend this? What can we know? Nobody believes you can look at a star and say, Oh, God must have sent his son Jesus Christ down on the cross for my sins.


All right. So we know, obviously, that kind of information are available in Revelation, but there are many other things which are simply we don't know. How much can someone know? The third and final view is the dialogical view made famous by people like C Smith and Hocking and John Hick. You take a book by Wilford Cantwell. Smith Book like Belief in History, Faith and Belief. The meaning and end of religion. Debbie Hawking, a book entitled The Living Religions and a World of Faith. There are so many books that have been written. I mean, John Hick has a book called shockingly, The Myth of Christian Uniqueness. These are books available in our library. This is not a small movement at all. This movement is a logical movement, and I've tried to counter it in my own book in terms of what is meant by the term. But generally speaking, the dialogical view is try to use this word dialog in a way that promotes a particular agenda about dialog. I find troubling, but nevertheless it's there. It focused a lot on parallels and religious experience. They very much are part of the phenomenology methodology, saying, Boy, there are a lot of similarities between the piety of a muslim and the piety of an evangelical. And there are similarities yet again between the party and evangelical and certain piety and certain ethical frameworks present in a Buddhist. And therefore, why should we emphasize the differences? Let's find common ground. And this is very much a part of the dialogical view. They focus and say a lot in their writings that the real encounter. In this whole, you know, Christianity and the encounter with with world religions there. They often say Christianity cannot encounter Buddhism. Only Christians can encounter Buddhist.


That's a very important point that they make, that the Koran and the Bible can't really encounter each other at some point. It's got to be living. People are living faith. And so you have real Muslims who sit down with real Christians and they dialog with each other about their experience as a Christian or Muslim, respectively. So encounter is between religions, not religions, but religious persons. And they often say because of that, religions differ only as a matter of degree. So we're a long way from the kind of discontinuous view which tend to show sharp cleavage between revelation and naturalism. Christ and any other religious figure. This is going to try to show that essentially there are vast amounts of parallels and overlap between the religious traditions. This was summed up kind of historically in the phrase the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. But isn't that really kind of what all religions point to? You hear people if you just spend time talking to people down in Boston or any big city in America, you'll find people saying to you, aren't all religions basically the same? Haven't you heard this? I mean, this is very much a part of this worldview. That. Okay, there are many differences, but they're superficial. If you really get down to the, you know, the common denominator, the ground of all being the the basic level. There are great, great parallels. That is a huge part of the dialogical view. They say one of the problems with the Christian proclamation is this is overly Christo centric. Christ centered instead. John Hick, for example, in his book Christ and the Universe of Faith, has argued very strongly that rather than having Christ at the center, you should put God in the center.


And the religions are all different planets revolving around the sun. And so all the religions are in some way judging their distance from God. But they're all relative to one another. And therefore, there is no place for a particular religion to sit in judgment over against another and claim that we're normative or not. We have the true insight. You do not. And all of that. They simply denial that. So they have reconfigured it in a way that makes it impossible not just for Christianity, but for any religion to claim to be normative. It's to sit in judgment over against the claims of other world religions. So they've raised a number of issues just to kind of summarize. They argue that the locus of religion is not in books and in libraries, but in people and communities. They would say what really matters is where is your heart? The word Islam means to submit. If a muslim has a heart that's submitted to God that is just as accessible to God as anybody else who is found in their own way. This tradition has helped them submit themselves to God. So this really downplays the particular doctrinal differences and instead emphasizes the importance of the individual's heart before God. It emphasizes a lot. God working outside the covenant, we've already mentioned this in passing, but figures like Melchizedek become very important in this discussion. To say that, of course, no one wants to deny that God has worked within Judaism and God gave them a covenant. But does that mean by definition, therefore, that God has not made other covenants or or has worked redemptive with people outside the covenant? Even if we believe that Christ has saved us? Do we mean that therefore the Muslim cannot be saved in Islam or the are a Buddhist within Buddhism and so forth? There's also a lot of discussion between what's called the content, a revelation and the occurrence of revelation.


They argue that Christians tend to focus too much on the specific doctrinal content of revelation. As opposed to the fact that God is revealing himself the occurrence of it. The occurrence is the great denominator that joins us if the content is different. So you could say, for example, that the content of the Koran and the content of the Vedas in Hinduism may may disagree or be contradictory. But what really matters is that somehow God is using that diversity to reach people with his revelation. The occurrence of God touching people's lives is more important than the particular content of it. Actually, C.S. Lewis makes this point, but it's used by them as well that a book of Revelation is like a map of the shoreline. It's helpful in one way because you can look at the map and see where the shoreline is, where the towns are. But you can't confuse that with actually building a boat sailing along. So they're trying to distinguish between the, you know, kind of like the map and the books that we look at and the actual experience of sailing, which may be very different experience, different people, and therefore you don't want to confuse these two things is what they would argue. I think there are serious questions about it, this view, but I'm trying to present all three of them as best I can. Any question about this view, the dialogical view and kind of what their. Basic premises and what they're advocating and how different it is from the fulfillment or from the discontinuous. Yes. Following this kind of stuff is not to overall. Right. Well, I think what you're saying is, yeah, what you're saying is right in general, the specifics of it are not right.


Right. Yeah. The only problem is, is that one of the problems this view has encountered is by the very assumption you just made, which I think is fair enough, but I think has created problems is because it began with discussions among mainly Christians and Jews and then vaccines and Muslims where you have a theistic kind of common denominator. And so and all of them kind of share the same basic Judeo-Christian worldview in some ways. But as the the discussion extended into Buddhism, which does not believe in God. Then it created a real problem because, you know, what do you do? Where's the center? You don't even have a kind of a general God. You. How can you? You can't even join on the gentle path of theism. So what Hayek eventually did was move to say, okay, we won't use the word God. We simply use the word nominal. That's a kind of a nice, amorphous word that can kind of encompass, you know, the great ultimate. So people say, Well, what? Okay, so now we're using the word Neumann. All that kind of became almost anything you want to put in there. Well, then eventually he was asked at one point in a in a conference to define salvation. Now, again, you have to get really, really general. In order to satisfy a definition of salvation to include everybody, because the, you know, for the Buddhist is very, very different than for a Christian. So he finally said, Salvation is the turning from self-centeredness to others centered ness. And he had, I think, a very happy wall. This is where the feminist have really come to our our side. Praise God for the feminist, because they went berserk and they said that. How dare you say that salvation is turning from self-centeredness to other sinners? That's been the whole problem of women.


They've been overly others centered. And the real liberation for a woman. This is at a conference. This woman said to John Hick, really, the race for a woman is sometimes more self-centered. You know, always what the family does. The children know that, you know, by George, I'm going to do something. And so John Hege was taken aback because his whole mentality it dialogic is to find a way to encompass everybody. So he said, this is not a joke. He actually said this. He said, okay, okay, okay is true. Perhaps male salvation is different than female salvation. I thought, Oh, wow. So now this whole view kind of gets spun out into impossible kinds of generalizations. If you have to get to that point where even men and women can't talk about salvation. Okay. What are some of the insights of the three positions? Some of the problems with the positions? Well, I've tried to argue along the way that all of these positions have certain insights. I think that there's no question that the view of the discontinuity clearly does not at all shy away from being having the courage to claim the normative ness of the Christian faith and the uniqueness of the gospel and the singularity of biblical revelation. And that, I think, is to be applauded. The fulfillment of you should be applauded for being much more sensitive to the presence of revelation. I think about a wonderful quote that came out of a book by Call Me Betty. Ed Koch, the African theologian, when he said about the missionaries coming to Africa. He said the missionaries did not bring God to Africa. God brought the missionaries to Africa. And I think that that's part of that see the strength and the fulfillment view.


They are trying to acknowledge that Christianity does not hinge on the various task of the church. But ultimately, this is God's initiative. This is the mission de. This is God's work in the world. And God, by His grace, brings us and I know not to choose which says this all the time. He must have heard this already, but certainly the recognition that God is active before we show up or before we open our mouths is a fairly healthy thing to recognize. So I think that's that's a good a good thing. The ideological view. Again, I applaud them for finally being willing to actually engage in genuine conversations with Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. In my book, Christian the Religious Roundtable. What I do is an enter into a discussion as an evangelical with Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims. And I've done this for years on the mission field, and I have found that this is a rare thing for evangelicals to actually take time to listen to and connect with and enter into what I call a true dialog. I think actually our dialogs have the advantage of being more authentic than the liberal dialogs. Because what I have found is that the dialog that they have is with a Christian who has already checked their beliefs at the door before they ever sit down at the table. So here's a Christian who's already given up the belief in the resurrection of Jesus, already given up his belief in the revelation of the Scriptures before you even sit down. How does that person really reflect the Christian faith? He's reflecting maybe some Christian words, but actually not reflecting historic Christianity. And then they bring in some Muslim, you know, who has jettisoned everything about Islam that possibly can be jettisoned.


So you don't really have an authentic dialog. So what I have tried to do is bring together truly committed Christians who are committed to historic Christianity, bringing together a muslim who is deeply committed to Islam. And I want them when I'm finished with the mouse. And I want him to worship Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of the universe. And I would be really shocked if he didn't hope and pray that I would end up saying that Muhammad is the prophet of Allah. That's an authentic dialog, though, because you enter into it. You know everybody as men and women of conviction, and then you can actually discuss what the real living traditions actually teach and believe, and not just some somebody who's been brought into some liberal framework. So. I actually appreciate that. I'm sorry it took the evangelicals so long to do this. But I do appreciate that the liberals than the dialogic view especially, have not been afraid to sit down and talk. Because this has been desperately needed. And I think finally evangelicals are waking up to this. So those are some positive things. Problems with three positions. I've listed several here. I find it deeply troubling for any view which does not take seriously the role of general revelation. I think this is my biggest criticism of the discontinuous view. It puts too much weight on our being the conveyors of the gospel message. And it does not actually give sufficient weight to God's prior activity. And the fact that Scripture itself acknowledges that God prepares the hearts, convicts the world of sin and is part of the process. And God does, by His grace, use us centrally in the process. But to say solely in the process, I think, is to overstate the role of the church in the process.


My main criticism of especially the second and third view. Is the unbelievable superficiality and drawing parallels. We'll see this in our case studies after the break. This whole system can be so superficial and saying, Oh, we're all saying the same thing because the language has some kind of vague similarity and not actually looking at the real positions of the church or the mosque or whatever. It's very important to actually look at what people really believe, what the what does it what does the Koran actually teach? Don't try to create some kind of facade that is not reflective of the actual tradition. So some of this makes me sick. I mean, especially the the kind of all religions are basically the same kind of idea. The people who say that are totally ignorant about what religions. They are absolutely ignored about it. But say ignorance is a very important ingredient to a lot of conversations. And so they assume and evangelicals have been really bad about this because evangelicals are, by and large completely ignorant about what Buddhism teaches, for example. And therefore the liberals often know more about it than you do. And so therefore, the liberals say, Well, Buddhism teaches so-and-so. And you're buffaloed because maybe, maybe it does. And so you end up with this kind of amorphous dialog. And it's not. It's based on tons of superficiality. Even the fulfillment idea is often based on many superficial assumptions about how people understand their traditions. It almost assumes a theistic context, which is largely not true in Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. It assumes certain kind of Christian frameworks often. That somehow and other Islam and and Buddhism and Hinduism are all kind of the overall framework is the same, but they're just have like the wrong answer or they have pieces of the puzzle missing.


But if you could just kind of put in the Christian pieces, the picture would all be there. But actually, we don't have the same puzzle. We don't have the same framework. And therefore, it's very, very difficult to kind of make. And the biggest one is the one, the same one that you brought out this kind of theistic assumptions that are often there, assuming that, well, all religions are trying to find God in some way. Another thing that I think is devastating took over the third view, but it's it's present in some ways from two and three especially three is the. This kind of separation or wedge between religious experience and propositional truth. Now properties or truth is refers to truth statements. Now we recognize that Jesus is a lot more than a propositional truth statement. We recognize that Christianity is greater than a book about Christianity or a book of revelation about Christianity. We realize all of that. The question is how does the experience of a Christian? Does it relate to propositional truth? And what you'll finally what you'll read are very often in these various writings is essentially they want to pretend as if these two are completely separate. When in fact they are inseparable. I give the example of God spoke to Moses at the burning bush. That is a propositional truth statement, which means it's a statement of truth that is either true or false. It's a truth claim that's either true or false. Either God did speak to modes of the burning bush or God did not speak of the burning bush. You could say the same thing. Jesus Christ died for our sins. That's a propositional truth statement. It's a proposed statement of assertion based on what we read in Scripture.


Either Christ on the cross for our sins or he did not. But if you look at this particular example, that is a very powerful experience that Moses had with God. Moses experience at the Burning Bush was a very formative experience in Moses life. If he were to sit down and talk phenomenal logically about his life before God, he would probably share about this experience. So the Bible records the experience. Now, the minute of the Bible records the experience, it does not vacate that experience of its power. It simply records it. It either happened or it didn't happen. If it did not happen, then most didn't have the experience. If Moses did have the experience, then it can be talked about and discussed. And therefore recorded in a book or a book of revelation. So the experience of people who actually had experience with God and encounters with God, whether it be on Mount Carmel or the burning bush or at the foot of the cross. These experiences have been articulated and revealed in Scripture and then given to us for various purposes. And so to kind of act as if these two things are separate and the oh, well, you know, you don't give me your book of scripture because what we really want to talk about is experiences. Well, the Bible is full of experiences, recorded experiences in many ways. Our own experience before God is understood through the lenses of what we read in Scripture and even our own experience can be spoken out propositional. If you say, I had a vision in 1992. Well, okay, that's an experience that you had. It either happened or didn't happen. And so even in our own experience, as we talk about things and give testimonies about things, we are in a sense, giving an oral record of what happened that you're currently not experiencing.


And so the idea somehow or another, we can't talk about religious experiences in any way tethered to Revelation and books, Revelation, Bible and all of this is completely fallacious. I think probably the most insightful discussion of this point for book View on this is by Harold Nettleton, entitled Dissonant Voices. It's widely believed to be one of the best books on the subject of what is the relationship of propositional truth to religious experience. He's a professor at Trinity. Very, very able writer Harold Netherland in 80 L.A., and it's in our library called Dissonant Voices. And he talks about different religious traditions and how they how they encounter and talk about God and in his case, his expertise in area Buddhism. Okay. Any comments or question? I want to kind of discuss maybe a fourth view, but let me just stop and see if we have any questions or comments. Yes. How. Well, the discontinuous view would say that supernatural occurrences simply cannot occur by definition, other religions, because God is not active in Islam and therefore didn't happen. One. One of the problems with that, just a critique as we go, is that the Koran borrows quite heavily from the Old Testament and the Koran records what we ourselves believe and the Jewish religion believes that our supernatural revelations of God. So when the Koran records, for example, the chances of passage of the Red Sea. That's a supernatural occurrence that has to be reckoned with, and yet it's revealed in the context of the Koran. So there's problems with that. But this continues. We would not want to discuss that. The fulfillment, you would see definitely the possibility that God would reveal himself supernaturally to people. But what I would say is that if God takes initiative and the male residents of the world or whoever to reveal himself or to heal somebody, even apart from a Christian worker, that is all for the purpose of pointing them to Christ.


And it will have no there's no way any amount of revelation or supernatural occurrences can possibly be salvific. Only Christ can save. And therefore, somehow this has to be fulfilled in Christ. The modern day version of this is been mainly through Carl Reiner. I think he's on the opposite end of like Ann Richards and Carl Reiner, the Catholic theologian, basically said that everybody in the world is an anonymous Christian. They don't realize what God's done for them in Christ. And so when they when they Hindu falls down in genuine faith, puts his faith in Krishna, that God will count that as faith in Christ. And that's like the ultimate kind of example of how this this view has gone in modern theology. But they in principle would accept the possibility. The dialogical view was quite open to the possibility that this would happen equally everywhere. So they would say that the fact that the Hindus believe that there is this eternal, what they call the UN struck sound, which is resonant of the universe from Brahman, their ultimate reality word that is just as supernatural for them and as authentic as are saying that the incarnations occurred. So they would put that on equal footing. Yes, Wendy. Right. It's actually only the Christian kind of representatives within the dialogical view that talk about God working outside the covenant because the people in a muslim context are not acknowledging any normative ness of the Jewish covenant or anything else. So they would say there are either that their God is working generally, or there could be many covenants that God made with people and reveal himself. What they would generally say, though, is that the covenantal idea is something the Jews have projected on to God.


And this has helped the Jews to articulate their unique view of themselves, and that's helped them in their journey toward God. So they would say that the covenantal idea was largely a human projection, and they would not believe that it represents any historical truth that God covenanted with Israel, particularly by and large, they would not accept that. All right. Other thoughts or comments about this? Yes. Well, that's why I put in there the word noble. Because it is a bit hard to argue this thing from the position of what people lack. Like you say, loneliness or whatever, as opposed to what they are reaching for. And so oftentimes they tend to not find it as effective to talk about common problems in the human race as opposed to common aspirations. People want wholeness without inside defining that people are lonely or empty. And so it becomes, again, a bit amorphous, because that can be it can be defined very differently. So some of the language can be very vague. And I think there is a problematic element there because one of the criticisms has been that a lot of their ideas about what we're all aspiring toward are imposed from Christian categories. And therefore it's simply the Dallas is just not going to accept it. That's not what he or she is reaching out for. Aspiring for the Buddhist is headed toward emptiness or nothingness. It's a very. How do you reconcile that with Christian aspiration? So most of it happens on a very superficial level and is basically propagated by people who are not actually in touch with the living traditions of Buddhism. But these are liberal Protestants talking to other liberal Protestants about Buddhism. Typically. Yes. Well, I think if we had more time in this lecture, what I would like to have done maybe, is to show how all three of these could be profoundly Christian and profoundly non-Christian in many ways.


I think you're right. There's a general movement. The likelihood of finding evangelicals much more in the discontinuous camp than in dialogical camp. I think it's fair enough. But I think that all of these have serious problems as well as possibilities. So I think I'll leave it at that. I mean, it do belong together. The fulfillment actually is a pretty big camp with a wide range of people that were the spectrum really, really chefs within the fulfillment camp. I myself cannot I do not accept inclusive ism. For example. Carl Reiner I cannot accept it because what they say is that human response to crises does not matter. What matters is that Christ death is ontologically necessary, not epistemological necessarily. You don't need to know about it, just it happened. But I don't see that in Scripture at all. So I believe the importance of epistemology in preaching the Gospel is important. Bringing people to a knowledge of the faith and having them confess it is important. And therefore I can't accept a lot of the ways any of these three really are propagating. I can't accept a discontinuous view that puts us in some kind of corner. We don't actually talk to anybody, we just have all the truth. That to me is unbelievable. How can we how can we actually believe it? That's our side. That's our legitimate position. If we have truth that automatically compels us and should propel us into an engagement. Because that's our moral duty. And therefore, I think we have to really kind of shake up all of these views about what's brave. I want to say about my own view on this. And I think on the on the handout I have here the two hands of the father.


That's a quote from erroneous. I think there's maybe some help here. It's hard to give it a term, but. Erroneous. And I think ultimately a good view of Christianity, other religions does seem to need to be fully Trinitarian. And one of the beautiful things about the Trinity is that we learn different perspectives on God's full character and richness and a full Trinitarian ism. And I think that we sometimes in the Christian faith have not given proper way to both Christ and the Spirit in these discussions. Because in many ways Christ does represent the kind of. How shall we say, the unique side of the whole thing, the whole equation. The Incarnation is a singular event. It happened at a particular time. It happened a particular place on a particular people, as Andrew was so beautifully. The Incarnation is not just that God became a man, but God became a particular man. The whole incarnation is rooted in particularity. And of revelation. And so in that sense, all that was said about the discontinuous view is at a certain point true, there is no comparison with the Bible and the Koran. There's simply no comparison at this. At that level of revelation versus naturalism. There's just no comparison. So in many ways Christ represents that, that uniqueness. But then there's also the Spirit. As Irenaeus said, the father has two hands. He has the the son. He has the spirit. And the spirit is using very different kinds of language in Scripture. The Spirit blows where it wills. The spirit convicts the world of sin. The spirits working in the church and outside the church. Despair draws people to Christ. And so we recognize that in the Spirit we see a much greater kind of initiative and expansiveness from the father than we might have imagined.


I don't think anybody can believe that the preaching of Christ could be successful at the prior work of regeneration of the Holy Spirit. And so that work of the spirit is really important. So I think that we on one hand need to strike a very strong balance between the on one hand, the uniqueness of the gospel, which cannot be in any way compromised. The other hand realized that the gospel does not arise in a vacuum. God has revealed himself and nature in conscience and in history. He has prepared people to receive the gospel. And therefore there is continuity between God's work in our life and the Spirit leading us to Christ. And then after we accept Christ and his work on the cross, there is that continuity. The same God, the God of new creation is the God of the creation. And therefore God's handiwork is known. His footprints are left behind. And people have observed that even even religious people have observed true things about God. Because they reflected on the universe. And therefore revelation has made itself into certain basic things and text that are from a salvific point of view, from a Christological point of view. Totally unhelpful. The Quran cannot save you, but there are a lot of things in the Quran which are true, just as true as you'd find in the Bible in terms of basic insights about God. There are tons of things which are not said in the Koran, which are so silent on certain things. It's shocking. And you've got to have the Bible. But I just think that it's important to recognize that the Spirit has been at work and that even non-Christian people have made certain observations about God. Or even like in this case of Islam, borrowed from Jewish and Christian revelation in their own frameworks.


I think this also helps because if you have a very nice, very vigorous and healthy view of Christology and new metallurgy, the two hands of the father. On one hand. You have that solidity of knowing the uniqueness and the great certainty of the gospel. But also you're free to talk and engage with anybody. Because you're not afraid of the worry, because it's not up to us to convince somebody. Is the Spirit's work in the spirit? We cannot presuppose a spirit is already in some way active. We don't know if persons elected or not, but we can certainly presuppose that the spirit is in, at least in a general way, active. And therefore we can have conversations, we can talk. And this also delivers us from this kind of phenomenological naivete. That you find in both fulfillment and dialogical views where somehow or another we are now put in the unenviable position of trying to downplay all the differences. When I talk to Hindus, I be a Hindu. Let's talk, talk, talk with a Hindu. I'll talk to you as a Christian. Okay. Let's see where it goes. But don't let's don't say, oh, well, there's no real difference to us. So we can all have a cup of tea together. Why can't a convinced Christian and a convinced Hindu have a cup of tea together? You know, and then go from there. But to say the only basis we have of having a conversation is if we dismiss any differences as if they don't really exist to me is naivete. It's it's not genuine at all. I have a very good Buddhist, Tibetan Buddhist friend in North India that we talk all the time and. We have volleyball and various kind of encounters together and we talk.


He's a Buddhist, he's a Tibetan, I'm a Christian. I really pray for the day when he will accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He probably is hoping for the day when I will realize the infinite value of nothingness. But. We have a relationship nonetheless. It's a genuine one. And I would much rather encounter him as a Buddhist, and he had me as an evangelical Christian than to us to say, Well, there's no real difference between the two of us. I think I represent one of his few in his entire life. Anybody that that's actually a child of the light in his entire life. And in my mind he represents darkness, but he doesn't share that view. And so, you know, we have to go from there. And to me, that's important and authentic and it's helpful. And I think this allows us to pray for God's spirit to be active in somebody and and yet to maintain the certainty and the sureness of the great fact of Christ, which is the great singularity of Christian proclamation. Okay. Any final thoughts or comments before our break? Classical 6 to 9, right? So we'll take a break and then we'll come back. I don't know how much time I'll have because we have a five or ten minute break. We'll have just over an hour. But I do want us to do a few case studies where we see how all this applies to real situations and the encounter between Christianity, other religions. So please come back for some case studies.