Inclusivism

Inclusivism, one of several approaches to understanding the relationship between religions, asserts that while one set of beliefs is absolutely true, other sets of beliefs are at least partially true. It stands in contrast to exclusivism, which asserts that only one way is true and all others are in error. It is a particular form of religious pluralism, though that term may also assert that all beliefs are equally valid within a believer's particular context.

Broadly speaking, there are two schools of Inclusivist thought:

  • Traditional Inclusivism, which asserts that the believer's own views are absolutely true, and believers of other religions are correct insofar as they agree with that believer.
  • Relativistic Inclusivism, which asserts that an unknown set of assertions are Absolutely True, that no human being currently living has yet ascertained Absolute Truth, but that all human beings have partially ascertained Absolute Truth.

Strands of both types of Inclusivist thought run through all faiths.

Ancient Greece

Interpretatio graeca the common tendency of ancient Greek writers to equate foreign divinities to members of their own pantheon. Herodotus, for example, refers to the ancient Egyptian gods Amon, Osiris and Ptah as "Zeus," "Dionysus" and "Hephaestus." This could be seen an example of inclusivism, as could syncretism.

Syncretism functionized as an essential feature of Ancient Greek religion. Later on, Hellenism, a consequence of Alexander the Great's belief that he was the son of a god, only to be reinforced upon personally consulting the Oracle of Zeus-Ammon at Siwa in Egypt, itself showed syncretist features, essentially blending Persian, Anatolian, Egyptian (and eventually Etruscan-Roman) elements within Hellenic formulations. After the Hellenization of the Egyptian culture initiated by Ptolemy I Soter, Isis became known as "Queen of Heaven" and worshipped in many aspects and by many names besides that of Hera.

Bahá'í Faith

Shoghi Effendi, the head of the Bahá'í Faith in the first half of the 20th century, states:

The fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, the followers of His Faith firmly believe, is that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary, that they differ only in the nonessential aspects of their doctrines, and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society.[1][2]

Christianity

  • Jesus said, "for whoever is not against us is for us." (NIV) Gospel of Mark 9:40.
  • The Apostle Peter wrote of God: "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
  • "That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world." John 1:9 Similarly Titus 2:11 says, "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."
  • God loved the entire world and Jesus came to save it, not condemn it (John 3:16, 17.)
  • An aphorism common in some Christian circles: "All Truth is God's Truth." Compare: "If there is something more excellent than the truth, then that is God; if not, then truth itself is God" - Saint Augustine
  • Some Evangelical scholars believe that God judges all people based on their response to the Holy Spirit, and that just as Romans 2:14-15 shows that God is righteous by condemning people who violate natural law as they understand it, it also shows His mercy in forgiving those who have lived up to all the light they have had. Thus, it is possible for people to be saved through hearing the Gospel message of forgiveness of sins by Christ, even if they have not been instructed by Christian missionaries.
  • Psalm 19 presents general revelation, as exemplified by the sky and sun, in parallel with conversion. Verses 1-6 show the transcending of the barriers of language and geography. Verses 7-8 declare that the internalizing of the perfect law of the LORD can be efficacious in "converting the soul…making wise the simple…rejoicing the heart…enlightening the eyes."
  • Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18), Balaam (Numbers) and the Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-13) are examples of people who believed in God even though they were not part of the covenant people.
  • Cornelius already believed in God before Peter came and preached to him (Acts 10:1-48.) "Then Peter opened his mouth and said: 'In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality, But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him." Acts 10:34-35
  • The parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46) portrays the judgment of the nations as being based on each individual's compassion on others, not on their religious background. The blessings pronounced upon the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, those hungering for righteousness, etc. (Matthew 5:3-10) can also be understood as applying without reference to religion. Similarly, James 1:27 says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."
  • Paul said that the Greeks had been worshiping God without knowing it. He said that in their semi-enlightened condition, they might grope for God and find Him, since He was not far from each one of us. Their own poets had declared that they were God's offspring. This shows that He was somewhat known to them. Acts 17:23-28
  • Jesus, speaking to a Samaritan woman in (John 4:22), said, "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews," implying, inclusivists believe, that it is possible to worship the true God without explicitly knowing it. Later, when an expositor of the Jewish laws asked him, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?,” Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan and said, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37
  • And he said, "Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life." Romans 5:18
  • Supporters of inclusivism include Saint Julian of Norwich, Augustus Hopkins Strong,[3] C. S. Lewis,[4] John Wesley,[5] Clark Pinnock,[6] Karl Rahner, John E. Sanders, Terrance L. Tiessen (Reformed) and Robert Brush (contributor to The Arminian Magazine). While Billy Graham faithfully preached "salvation by faith in Christ alone" throughout his 60-year ministry as an evangelist, he later made controversial comments that border on inclusivism (but he did not like to refer to it by the term, because he was concerned that many people mean universalism when they refer to inclusivism). Graham said, “I used to play God but I can’t do that any more. I used to believe that pagans in far-off countries were lost and were going to hell—if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that,” he said carefully. “I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God—through nature, for instance—and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying ’yes’ to God.”[7]
  • The doctrine of inclusivism is held by Roman Catholics [8] and Seventh-day Adventists, asserting that while Christianity is the one true faith, other faiths are at least partially true, and therefore are valid ways of reaching salvation until the Gospels can be preached to them..

A standard passage cited in the debate over this question is found in Jesus' words in John 14:6: "No one comes to the Father except through me" (NIV). If this is taken to mean that a person is saved only by conscious faith in Jesus, the verse appears to contradict Lewis' position. However, another reading is that Jesus is solely responsible for making salvation possible (i.e. he "instituted" it by his death and resurrection). In this reading there may be room for the position that some might come to the Father through this salvation not knowing (at least originally) its connection to Jesus.

Hinduism

  • A well-known Rig Vedic hymn stemming from Hinduism claims that "Truth is One, though the sages know it variously.", thus proclaiming a pluralistic view of religion.
  • Krishna, incarnation or Avatar of Vishnu, the supreme God in Hinduism, said in the Gita: In whatever way men identify with Me, in the same way do I carry out their desires; men pursue My path, O Arjuna, in all ways. (Gita:4:11);
  • Krishna said: "Whatever deity or form a devotee worships, I make his faith steady. However, their wishes are only granted by Me." (Gita: 7:21-22)
  • Another quote in the Gita states: "O Arjuna, even those devotees who worship other lesser deities (e.g., Devas, for example) with faith, they also worship Me, but in an improper way because I am the Supreme Being. I alone am the enjoyer of all sacrificial services (Seva, Yajna) and Lord of the universe." (Gita: 9:23)

References

  1. ^ (The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh" in World Order, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1972–73))
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Strong, Anthony H. (1907) [1886]. Systematic Theology. Old Tappan, NJ: Revell. pp. 842–843. OCLC 878559610.
  4. ^ Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 65. For a study of Lewis on this topic see John Sanders, No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992), 251-257.
  5. ^ Wesley, "On Faith" in The Works of John Wesley, third edition volume 7 (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1986), 197. For other texts by Wesley on the topic see John Sanders,No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992),249-251.
  6. ^ Clark Pinnock, A Wideness in God's Mercy: The Finality of Jesus Christ in a World of Religions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992)
  7. ^ "I Can't Play God Anymore" interview with James M. Beam, McCall's Magazine, (January 1978), pp. 154-158
  8. ^ Nostra Aetate Article 2
Agnostic existentialism

Agnostic existentialism is a type of existentialism which makes no claim to know whether there is a "greater picture"; rather, it simply asserts that the greatest truth is that which the individual chooses to act upon. It feels that to know the greater picture, whether there is one or not, is impossible, or impossible so far, or of little value. Like the Christian existentialist, the agnostic existentialist believes existence is subjective.

Anonymous Christian

Anonymous Christian is the controversial notion introduced by the Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner (1904–1984) that declares that people who have never heard the Christian Gospel might be saved through Christ. Non-Christians could have "in [their] basic orientation and fundamental decision," Rahner wrote, "accepted the salvific grace of God, through Christ, although [they] may never have heard of the Christian revelation."The theologians W. D. Davies and Dale Allison wrote that proponents of the notion find scriptural support in Romans 2:14–16, as well as in Matthew 25:31–46.The notion of inclusivism, for which Rahner's Anonymous Christian is the principal Christian model, is "perhaps the most popular of interreligious postures."

Argument from love

The Argument from love is an argument for the existence of God. The best-known defender of the argument is Roger Scruton.

Argument from miracles

The argument from miracles is an argument for the existence of God that relies on the belief that events witnessed and described as miracles – i.e. as events not explicable by natural or scientific laws – indicate the intervention of the supernatural.

One example of this argument is the Christological argument: the claim that historical evidence proves that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that this can only be explained if God exists. Another is the claim that many of the Qur'an's prophecies have been fulfilled and that this too can only be explained if God (Allah) exists.

Defenders of the argument include C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton and William of Ockham.

Aslan

Aslan ( or ) is a major character in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia series. He is the only character to appear in all seven books of the series. C.S. Lewis often capitalises the word lion in reference to Aslan since he parallels Jesus Christ.Aslan is depicted as a talking lion, and is described as the King of Beasts, the son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, and the King above all High Kings in Narnia.Aslan is Turkish for "lion".

Belief

Belief is the attitude we have whenever we take something to be the case or regard it as the truth.In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to personal attitudes

associated with true or false ideas and concepts. However, "belief" does not require active introspection and circumspection. For example, we never ponder whether or not the sun will rise. We simply assume the Sun will rise. Since "belief" is an important aspect of mundane life, according to Eric Schwitzgebel in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a related question asks: "how a physical organism can have beliefs?"In the context of Ancient Greek thought, two related concepts were identified with regards to the concept of belief: pistis and doxa. Simplified, we may say that pistis refers to "trust" and "confidence", while doxa refers to "opinion" and "acceptance". The English word "orthodoxy" derives from doxa. Jonathan Leicester suggests that belief has the purpose of guiding action rather than indicating truth.

Emeth

Emeth (Hebrew אמת : "truth," "firmness," or "veracity") is a Calormene character from C. S. Lewis's book The Last Battle from The Chronicles of Narnia series. He is a controversial character among some Christians who disagree with Lewis' soteriology. Specifically, the salvation of Emeth is understood to be an implicit endorsement of Inclusivism.

Exclusivism

Exclusivism is the practice of being exclusive; mentality characterized by the disregard for opinions and ideas other than one's own, or the practice of organizing entities into groups by excluding those entities which possess certain traits. (for an opposite example, see essentialism).

Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit, is a term found in English translations of the Bible that is understood differently among the Abrahamic religions. The term is also used to describe aspects of other religions and belief structures.

Inclusive

Inclusive may refer to:

Inclusive disjunction, A or B or both

Inclusive fitness, in evolutionary theory, how many kin are supported including non-descendants

Inclusive tax, includes taxes owed as part of the base

Inclusivism, a form of religious pluralism

Inclusiveness and exclusivity in Ayyavazhi

The Inclusiveness and exclusivity in Ayyavazhi is the inclusive and exclusive ideology of Ayyavazhi scriptures over other religions. The formula of inclusivism and exclusivism was applied in the religio-cultural universe of Ayyavazhi is one that is not found anywhere else in the world. Though there are separate verses towards inclusivism and exclusivism as central themes in Akilam, the mixture of both is unique. The inclusivistic theory of accepting the views of different religions for a certain period of time and from then onwards exclusivistically rejecting all of them by narrating that all the previous had lost their substances is a mythical as well as religious break-through.

John E. Sanders

John E. Sanders is an American Christian theologian. He currently serves as professor of religious studies at Hendrix College. Sanders is best known for his promotion of open theism but he has also written on cognitive linguistics and religious pluralism (inclusivism).

John Hick

John Harwood Hick (20 January 1922 – 9 February 2012) was a philosopher of religion and theologian born in England who taught in the United States for the larger part of his career. In philosophical theology, he made contributions in the areas of theodicy, eschatology, and Christology, and in the philosophy of religion he contributed to the areas of epistemology of religion and religious pluralism.

Latitudinarian

Latitudinarians, or latitude men, were initially a group of 17th-century English theologians – clerics and academics – from the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England, who were moderate Anglicans (members of the Church of England, which was Protestant). In particular, they believed that adhering to very specific doctrines, liturgical practices, and church organizational forms, as did the Puritans, was not necessary and could be harmful: "The sense that one had special instructions from God made individuals less amenable to moderation and compromise, or to reason itself." Thus, the latitudinarians supported a broad-based Protestantism. They were later referred to as Broad Church (see also Inclusivism).

Natural-law argument

Natural-law argument for the existence of God was especially popular in the eighteenth century as a result of the influence of Sir Isaac Newton. As Bertrand Russell pointed out much later, many of the things we consider to be laws of nature, in fact, are human conventions. Indeed, Albert Einstein has shown that Newton's law of universal gravitation was such a convention, and though elegant and useful, one that did not describe the universe precisely. Most true laws are rather trivial, such as mathematical laws, laws of probability, and so forth, and much less impressive than those that were envisioned by Newton and his followers. Russell wrote:

"If you say, as more orthodox theologians do, that in all the laws which God issues he had a reason for giving those laws rather than others -- the reason, of course, being to create the best universe, although you would never think it to look at it -- if there was a reason for the laws which God gave, then God himself was subject to law, and therefore you do not get any advantage by introducing God as an intermediary. You really have a law outside and anterior to the divine edicts, and God does not serve your purpose, because he is not the ultimate law-giver. In short, this whole argument from natural law no longer has anything like the strength that it used to have."The argument of natural laws as a basis for God was changed by Christian figures such as Thomas Aquinas, in order to fit biblical scripture and establish a Judeo-Christian teleological law.

Neo-Vedanta

Neo-Vedanta, also called Hindu modernism, neo-Hinduism, Global Hinduism and Hindu Universalism, are terms to characterize interpretations of Hinduism that developed in the 19th century. Some scholars argue that these modern interpretations incorporate western ideas into traditional Indian religions, especially Advaita Vedanta, which is asserted as central or fundamental to Hindu culture.The term "Neo-Vedanta" was coined by Paul Hacker, in a pejorative way, to distinguish modern developments from "traditional" Advaita Vedanta. Other scholars have described a Greater Advaita Vedānta, which developed since the mediaeval period. What is important to note here is that many of these traditions, which were influential among Neo-Vedantins, did not derive from vedantic lineages, i.e., the "Advaita Vedanta" of Shankara. As the scholar J. Madaio points out "...it is possible to speak of sanskritic and vernacular advaitic texts (which are either explicitly non-dualistic or permit a non-dualistic reading) and 'Advaita Vedanta' texts which originate within sampradayas that claim an Advaita Vedantic lineage. This, then, avoids the obfuscating tendency to subsume advaitic but non-vedantic works under a 'Vedanta' or 'Advaita Vedanta' umbrella." Drawing on this broad pool of sources, after Muslim rule in India was replaced by British rule, Hindu religious and political leaders and thinkers responded to western colonialism and orientalism, contributing to the Indian freedom struggle and the modern national and religious identity of Hindus in the Republic of India. This societal aspect is covered under the term of Hindu reform movements.

Among the main proponents of such modern interpretations of Hinduism were Vivekananda, Aurobindo and Radhakrishnan, who to some extent also contributed to the emergence of Neo-Hindu movements in the West.

Neo-Vedanta has been influential in the perception of Hinduism, both in the west and in the higher educated classes in India. It has received appraisal for its "solution of synthesis", but has also been criticised for its Universalism. The terms "Neo-Hindu" or "Neo-Vedanta" themselves have also been criticised for its polemical usage, the prefix "Neo-" then intended to imply that these modern interpretations of Hinduism are "inauthentic" or in other ways problematic.

Philosophy of religion

Philosophy of religion is "the philosophical examination of the central themes and concepts involved in religious traditions." These sorts of philosophical discussion are ancient, and can be found in the earliest known manuscripts concerning philosophy. The field is related to many other branches of philosophy, including metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.The philosophy of religion differs from religious philosophy in that it seeks to discuss questions regarding the nature of religion as a whole, rather than examining the problems brought forth by a particular belief system. It is designed such that it can be carried out dispassionately by those who identify as believers or non-believers.

Theological noncognitivism

Theological noncognitivism is the position that religious language – specifically, words such as "God" – are not cognitively meaningful. It is sometimes considered synonymous with ignosticism.

Theology of religions

The theology of religions is the branch of theology (mostly represented by Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish theology) and religious studies that attempts to theologically evaluate the phenomena of religions. Three important schools within Christian part of this field are pluralism, inclusivism, and exclusivism, which describe the relation of other religious traditions to Christianity and attempt to answer questions about the nature of God and salvation.

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Conceptions of God
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