Christianity and World Religions

Essay by outenml October 2007

download word file, 1 pages 4.8

The Christian issue of whether salvation is exclusive only to people who have heard the Bible or exposed to the Christian community has been viewed differently by Catholics and Evangelicals. Catholics tend to have a more tolerant perspective while still holding on to the importance of Christian teachings while Evangelicals carry a more exclusivist or doubtful view.

The Vatican II series of Catholic bishop meetings in the 1960s established what would be the obtaining position of the Roman Catholic Church towards other religions. Variously termed as the theology of inclusivism or fulfillment, this Catholic position affirms the validity of the other religions based on the rays of truth and holiness in them but at the same time normatively affirms that Christ is 'the way.' This theology means that the other religions are also part of God's activity and that the good and holy in these religions are fulfilled in Christianity.

Vatican II's "Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions" suggests that Christians could learn from other contemplative traditions especially since adaptation to these cultures would help make non-Christians more receptive to Christ and Christianity (Imperato 20).

One developed theory that explains how salvation can be availed of by people beyond the confines of Christianity is propounded by theologian Karl Rahner. Rahner points to the transcendental presence of God, or God's presence in all human hearts, that is manifested through natural human restlessness to open to the infinite or God. This "natural openness to God" independent of whether a person knows the word or concept of God is seen through the human yearning for truth and goodness (Imperato 20). Thus any moral decision at the expense of one's status or pleasure becomes an act of worship or surrender to God.

Herein, Rahner developed the concept of the...