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Pluralism - Raimon Pannikar

Raimon Pannikar

  • Recongnised that we can all have different views that lead to the same truth.
  • Focused on the need for openess when talking about truth of religion.
  • Came from a mixed faith family, mother was hindu, father was catholic. He is comfortable in both traditions.
  • Studied with Christian monks who embraced different religious principles and deeply impressed how they overcame faith differences.
  • Adopted the Hindu concept of 'Advaita' which focused on unity of all things.
  • Had deep knowledge of Aquinas and compared this to Hindu teaching and scripture.
  • Pannikar taught that when we look through a window we may see one thing and our neighbour may see something that we don't. We should not think that they are wrong but also that we are correct. It is about the fact that all people have different views of the truth. Ultimately they are experiencing the same thing in a different way.
  • Panikkar did not think of himself as a pluralist as he thought the title suggested he had taken up an intellectual position in the relationship between Christianity and other religions.
  • He believed religious pluralism is a spirtual position.
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Raimon Panikkar

  • Panikkar often spoke and wrote of 'Christophony' which means Christ being made plain to human consciousness.
  • Panikkar saw Christ not as a specific individual, but as a name for God showing himself to people.
  • 'Christ' for Panikkar is the word Christians use for God making himself known; other religions have other words for it.
  • Christophony was not limited to the figure of Jesus of Nazareth but Christ in the sense of God making himself known can be found in other territories.
  • Hindu tradition 'Ishwara' is a concept that refers to a personal God or supreme soul or spiritual inspiration.
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John Hick

  • John Hick saw the Christian understanding of Jesus as mythical, in which Jesus was a symbolic way of understanding that had been developed in Christian tradition.
  • The Christian myth of God in Christ was not the only way of understanding God.
  • Panikkars views are similar to that of Rahner who believed that someone could be an anonymous Christian by recognising the truth of Christianity without putting Christian labels onto that truth.
  • Rahner understood Christianity to hold more truth than other religions, whereas Panikkar thought this was putting a limit on God's freedom to make himself known however he wishes.
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Exclusivist arguements

Jesus answered, "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me." - John 14.6 This quote supports the exclusivist approach as it says that the only way to God is by believing in Jesus, which completely disregards other religions.

Exclusivists argue:

  • In the Bible there is only one way to salvation - through Christ. Another argument is that Christ's death on the cross had a once-for-all cosmic significance. Jesus' death was not to offer an extra route to salvation - it was the fulfilment of God's plan, enabling people to be reconciled with God by atoning their sins brought into the world by Adam.
  • It is irrational to hold the view that more than one religion can be true, because they all teach different things. All religions could be wrong, they cannot all be right.
  • Christian message is not a matter of personal taste but is of vital importance for everyone's eternal soul therefore, it is necessary to make it plain to non-Christians that they're wrong because of the dangers of following a non-Christian path. Missionary work and trying to convert others to Christianity is a duty. Not a sign of arrogance.
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Critiques of Exclusivism

Critics of exclusivism argue:

  • Revelation requires interpretation. There are uncertanties about which are the very words spoken by Jesus and which are part of the gospel writers' crafting of the narrative of Jesus' life in order to communicate the Christian message. There are uncertanties about how different parts of the Bible should be interpreted, with the result that within Christianity there is not total agreement about exactly what is 'truth'. The evidence for only one right viewpoint is thin and requires faith, making it difficult to justify to people of a different faith, who make similar claims for their own revelation.
  • It makes God seem unfair if only those who believe in the Christian gospel are to be saved.
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Religious Pluralism & Society

Multi-faith societies: Societies where there are significant populations of people with different religious beliefs.

Encyclical: An open letter sent to more than one recipient.

Missionary Work: Activity that claims to convert people to a particular faith or set of beliefs or works of social justice in areas of poverty & deprivation.

Synod: The legislative body of the Church of England.

Social Cohesion: When a group is united by bonds that help them live peacefully.

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Religious Pluralism & Society pt.2

Christians sending their children to faith schools:

  • Learning about Christ.
  • Hear about faith from someone other than their parents.
  • Recieve religious teaching.
  • Helps with faith formation, based on what you're told.
  • High quality education & high sense of morality.
  • Taught faith from a very young age, are they trying to convert you?
  • Only learning about Christianity and not other religions - Sikhism, Buddhism - could this make you prejudice?
  • Don't get to choose for yourself.
  • Lack of experience of other cultures.
  • People sending their children to faith schools because of location/results/ofsted, faith becomes meaningless.
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What do Christian exclusivists believe: Salvation is only available to people belonging to Christianity. Augustine (4th century) and Calvin (16th century) had narrow, exclusivist views, believing and teaching that God elects through grace only a small number of Christians for heaven, so that simply belonging to the Christian religion and adopting their beliefs is not a guarantee of salvation.

What is a 'Bible-believing' Christian: Take the word of the Bible literally, might claim that only those who have the same view of scripture that they do are not 'true' Christians.

What did Augustine & Calvin believe: God gives grace to few Christians that go to Heaven, being Christian faith is not enough for salvation.

Some Christians hold that truth can be found in other religions but it is only partial truth, which is not enough for salvation. They believe that salvation can only be found through Christianity.

'For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind,' - 1 Timothy 2:3-6' Calvin D'Costa says we should focus on the Bible/scripture.

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