Many truths, many paths, many gods?

rainbow vestmentsFor years now, I have been saying that the two most controversial subjects in American religion are sex and salvation.

Obviously this shows up (GetReligion drinking game alert!) in the questions that make up the tmatt trio. Let’s review those questions again, for reasons that will be obvious very shortly. All together now:

(1) Are the biblical accounts of the resurrection of Jesus accurate? Did this event really happen?

(2) Is salvation found through Jesus Christ, alone? Was Jesus being literal when he said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)?

(3) Is sex outside of the Sacrament of Marriage a sin?

And, you may recall, when trying to define doctrinal boundaries in Anglican disputes I add a special bonus question that is, in a way, linked to question No. 2. That question is: Should churches in the Anglican Communion ban the worship, by name, of other gods at their altars?

This is a rather basic question, but one that is directly linked to any discussion of salvation. As the question is often stated, do all religious paths lead to the top of the same mountain? Are there beliefs that are eternally right and others that are eternally wrong? Are all religions true, even when they teach that others are false? Is everyone going to heaven — if there is such a place — no matter what they believe or do? As sociologist James Davison Hunter (his name should be in the GetReligion Dr Pepper drinking game, too) has stated, is the primary divide in contemporary life between those who believe that absolute, eternal truths exist and those who do not and, thus, put their faith in evolving, experiential concepts of truth?

You can see this issue rumbling around in the very first question posted at the massive new On Faith site operated by the Rt. Rev. Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn, on behalf of the Washington Post/Newsweek empire.

If some religious people believe they have a monopoly on truth, then are conversation and common ground possible? If so, what would be the difficulties and benefits of such a conversation?

It’s all in the word “monopoly.” Of course, it could be that Meacham and Quinn have a monopoly on truth when they imply that millions of believers are wrong when they believe that their faith contains some absolute truths. You have to watch out for those mature freethinkers who are absolutely sure that there are no absolute truths, other than their own absolute truth that there are no absolute truths. It’s kind of a Zen thing.

You can also see this basic question looming over that Jeffrey Weiss news feature last weekend in The Dallas Morning News, the one with the kicky headline “Whose soul is saved, and who gets roasted?” Here’s the heart of the story:

Who does go to hell?

Many people don’t believe in hell at all. Non-Christian faiths have their own take, of course. Judaism, the religion that birthed Christianity, teaches of the eternal nature of the soul, a divine judgment and a mostly undefined “World to Come.” But specifics are left up to God.

Islam is more like Christianity, with concrete traditions of paradise and hell. Who ends up where is a matter of how well the person submitted to God’s will while alive. Hindus and Buddhists believe in karma and reincarnation, so the evil done in one life is atoned for down the road — a road on earth.

Modern Christianity has many answers to who goes to hell. On the one extreme are universalists who say that a loving God could leave nobody in eternal torment. On the other are strict Calvinists who say that God picked a small elect for paradise before the world was created, and everyone else is simply stuck in the Handbasket to Hard Times.

The Christian discussion generally starts with this passage from the Gospel of John: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

stolesWeiss has collected a dizzying amount of detail about what different religions teach on the heaven and hell issue, including the doctrines of groups whose teachings have evolved and softened through the centuries. But you end up with the same logical problem: How can all of these world religions be right when some of them clearly teach truths that clash? This is especially true when dealing with missionary faiths such as Islam and traditional Christianity.

And what if you had a church or a global communion in which clergy — bishops and archbishops — had clashing views on this crucial doctrine? What if they could not agree on whether their faith was based on eternal truths? What if they could not agree on whether key events, take the resurrection for example, actually happened? What if they clashed over how to define certain doctrines or even sacraments, such as those linked to marriage and family? What if they disagreed over the path to salvation?

Then you’d probably have a giant conflict that would create lots of headlines and stories that would really test the skills of the journalists who had to cover leaders on both sides of this conflict in a fair and accurate manner. Yes, that would be quite a test.

So the salvation issue is out there and, in my opinion, is much more important than the debates over marriage and sexuality. For example, pay close attention to this exchange in a Here & Now radio interview between Robin Young and the new leader of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:

RY: Time asked you an interesting question, we thought, “Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?” And your answer, equally interesting, you said, “We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.” And I read that and I said, “What are you: a Unitarian?!?” [laughs]

What are you — that is another concern for people, because, they say Scripture says that Jesus says he was The Light and The Way and the only way to God the Father.

KJS: Christians understand that Jesus is the route to God. Umm — that is not to say that Muslims, or Sikhs, or Jains, come to God in a radically different way. They come to God through … human experience … through human experience of the divine. Christians talk about that in terms of Jesus.

RY: So you’re saying there are other ways to God.

KJS: Uhh … human communities have always searched for relationship that which is beyond them … with the ultimate … with the divine. For Christians, we say that our route to God is through Jesus. Uhh … uh … that doesn’t mean that a Hindu … uh … doesn’t experience God except through Jesus. It says that Hindus and people of other faith traditions approach God through their … own cultural contexts; they relate to God, they experience God in human relationships, as well as ones that transcend human relationships; and Christians would say those are our experiences of Jesus; of God through the experience of Jesus.

I think that means “Yes.” And I think there are millions of Anglicans who disagree. And there is no way to cover the heaven-and-hell story without talking to people on both sides and wrestling with the fine details of their beliefs. Congrats to Weiss at The Dallas Morning News for taking a shot at that. Ditto for the producers at Here & Now. This is an issue that is hidden between the lines of many other news stories on the religion beat.

Photos from The Dancing Silk Company.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Jeffrey Weiss

    After my reporting on that story, Matt, I think your Question 2 misses a nuance. And it’s one that a transcript of an audio interview might also miss.

    It’s perfectly possible to believe that Jesus is the only way (assuming that one believes there is a way) to salvation (ditto on the need thereof) and believe that Jesus chooses to express himself in various ways to other peoples who do not know him by that name.
    Are you *actually* asking if salvation is found only through explicit acceptance of Jesus as savior — ask for him by name (the SBC option)? Because your question could be being answered by Schori in the affirmative in your example if she were mentally putting little quotes above “Jesus,” thinking that all *authentic* approaches to God go through Jesus, no matter what the human names are. Now maybe she does not believe that. I dunno either way.

  • Dennis Colby

    I second Jeffrey Weiss’ point. The theology in the Catholic Church is that it’s possible even for people who’ve never heard the name “Jesus” to be saved – but that they’re only saved through Jesus, whether they’re aware of it or not. Back in the 1940s, an American priest named Leonard Feeney was excommunicated for teaching that only Catholics could be saved. If I’m not mistaken, this concept has a certain purchase within Orthodoxy as well, via the “restoration of all things” and wise folk like Gregory of Nyssa.

    Whether Jefferts Schori is aware of any of this is certainly open for debate, but there’s room for nuance in the second question of the Tmatt Trio.

  • Katie Q

    It’s a tangent, but I’d just like to point out that Feeney was *not* excommunicated for teaching that only Catholics could be saved. Regardless of the question of that idea’s validity, he was excommunicated for disobedience (which explicitly goes against one of the vows a priest takes in receiving holy orders). Indeed, he was later brought back into the Church without having to recant that belief.

    More on topic, I think what’s more interesting about the three questions (though I could think of a few more that I’d include as well) is more in how they’re answered than the solid “yes” or “no.” I can’t imagine many religious thinkers who would give a one-word answer without any elaboration, and the elaboration is the key. Look at a Schori up in the quote–she’s wanting to say yes, but the manner in which she’s stumbling around it reveals a great deal more about her answer.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    I am (get our your copies of The Great Divorce, my favorite book) very familiar with the themes and variations in question No. 2, including the Vatican II “anonymous Christian” option.

    But Katie is dead on.

    As I have said many times, the point of the tmatt trio is to AVOID yes or no answers. These are the key questions that I have used to draw out longer answers. The more people try to avoid answering, the more they often reveal.

    You should SEE Episcopal bishops try to answer the Resurrection and “other gods” questions. Worth buying a ticket.

  • Tim

    Could another question be:

    4) Is hell a literal place? If so, how does one
    end up there?

  • Bell of Winnipeg

    A better question might be, “What exactly does salvation mean, and what can we know about it if a) it happens after, or perhaps at the point of, death, and b) of we cannot, by definition, know whether it has happened or not, either after death or in people still living, how can we devise and then prescribe recipes for achieving it?

    I actually have a guess at an answer, but I’ll let you go first.

    Grin.

  • Carl

    Weiss is wrong about Buddhists. They traditionally believe in hell. When you die, the effects of your soul can go to one of six worlds: human, animal, demigods, hungry ghosts, or hell. Now, no matter which world you go to, you will eventually get old, die, and be reborn, even in the demigod world or hell world, but if you’re killing too many bugs today, you still have 600 million years of being boiled alive in hell to look forward to. So, that’s a lot worse than having to “atone thing down the road… on earth.”

  • MattK

    Yes! Yes!
    Kudos to H&N and Weiss.
    Going for the big questions that people in the religion think are the important ones. That is good.

  • Peter

    As the question is often stated, do all religious paths lead to the top of the same mountain? Are there beliefs that are eternally right and others that are eternally wrong? Are all religions true, even when they teach that others are false?

    There is a subtle cheat in the way this question is asked. The forced yes or no is reminiscent of the classic “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” question.

    The real question is NOT “do all religions lead to God?” (or more PC: “Are all religions equally valid?”) but rather, “Can people find their way to God on different paths?”

    One does not have to believe that all religions are equally valid to acknowledge that more than one may lead to God, any more than one has to acknowledge that all roads lead to Cleveland to acknowlege that there is more than one way to get there.

    To oversimplify: Suppose there are only three religions. It might be perfectly justifiable to say that Religion A and Religion B both offer valid paths to salvation, while Religion C is a complete crock.

    It is a cheat to force a choice between “only one monopoly on the truth” and “all variations are equally valid.”

    I know the writer wants us to judge Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori harshly for her words, but they sound pretty balanced to me — in essence, “What we do works for us, and it isn’t for us to say whether what others do works for them or not. Ask them, or better yet, ask God. We don’t condemn them or declare with certainty that their way is wrong; we just declare that our way is a right way.”

    What is so wrong with that?

  • Filipe

    Peter, I think you unknowingly hit the nail right on the head. Jesus didn’t say “I am one of the paths, who knows about the others” he said I am THE path, THE truth, THE light.
    For a Christian Bishop to then compare Jesus to “an awfully small box” is quite a twist.
    Having said that, I think there is room for compromise, and that the more traditional christian churches already teach it. “We don’t know who goes to Hell, what we know is that Jesus is THE path to God, as opposed to one of the paths. How he makes salvation possible for those who reject his divinity is up to Him and the Father. The fact that he may do so only reveals his eternal love for all humanity. Then again, maybe he doesn’t, who knows.”
    Again, somewhat different from the “Small Box” analogy.

    Tmatt, did you transcribe that part of the interview? Is there an on-line transcript somewhere?

  • Larry Rasczak

    As an Anglican (no longer Episcopalian) my biggest concern is the “Uhh . . . uh . . . ” factor here.

    Yes it is a complex question, and difficult to answer in the time constraints of a radio interview.

    Still one would think someone in KJS’s postion would have read, written and thought about this sort of thing enough that she wouldn’t be trying to hunt up the words for her answer on the spot.

    I mean let us be fair. KJS has to try to articulate a complex concept, in a short amount of time, for a general audience, knowing that her opponents will sharpshoot her for whatever she says. Give her some credit.

    Still, I can’t help but contrast it to the interviews I’ve seen with Father Neuhaus. He would be under similar constraints; but when you ask him a question like this, it is sort of like watching the spillways at Hoover Dam; there is so much accumulated thought and knowledge trying to squeeze itself into the tiny bit of time the interviewer has available. No “Uhh . . . uh . . . that doesn’t mean that a Hindu . . . uh . . . ” with him. He knows what he is talking about. Even better by the time he is done, you actually know where he stands on the issue too!

  • Dennis Colby

    Katie,

    Feeney was excommunicated for disobedience the way Al Capone was jailed for tax evasion. If he had bothered to come to Rome, Suprema Haec Sacra makes it pretty clear the kind of reception his ideas would have gotten. And as for his reconciliation, that’s more complicated, too: he was an enfeebled, semi-coherent man at that point, and his old friends in the church argued that by reciting the Athanasian Creed he was essentially recanting.

    Anyway, back on topic:

    I get that the idea of the questions is to avoid yes or no answers – that should be the purpose of most reporters’ questions, after all. But there’s a degree of nuance in religious discussions (or there should be, anyway) wherein language can be used to obscure someone’s actual position without seeming unorthodox. At the same time, there are plenty of orthodox sentiments that would seem completely strange to modern ears without a great deal of explanation. After all, how many orthodox bishops today would proudly proclaim, “I believe in God, but I don’t believe that he exists?”

  • Elle

    Shortly after her election to presiding bishop, Katharine Jefforts Schori was asked by a reporter, “What happens when you die?”

    Her answer: “What happens after you die? I would ask you that question. What’s important about your life? What is it that has made you a unique individual? What is the passion that has kept you getting up every morning and engaging the world? There are hints within that about what it is that continues after you die.”

  • Peter

    FilipePeter, I think you unknowingly hit the nail right on the head. Jesus didn’t say “I am one of the paths, who knows about the others” he said I am THE path, THE truth, THE light.
    For a Christian Bishop to then compare Jesus to “an awfully small box” is quite a twist.

    Ah, but it wasn’t unknowing. The joys of taking single sentences out of context! The next line is “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

    But EXACTLY what does that mean? One thing I have very real trouble believing is that it means “No one comes to the Father except through a narrow sectarian interpretation of what is interpreted about my teachings two thousand years from now.”

    In fact, I believe strongly that interpreting the “through Me” part of that as solely being “through the Church” is an utter denial of the Resurrection and the belief that Jesus is as alive and present as he ever was.

    Unless you believe that every human being born before the Incarnation is in hell, the “through Me” has to include some mechanism for people reaching the Father through the Christ even if they never heard of Jesus of Nazareth in life.

    Categorically denying that God can do the same for people of non-Christian faiths is indeed putting God in a “small box.”

    If you have a “right way,” or indeed “the” right way, then by all means follow it, and let it shine in such a way that others are inspired to do so as well.

    But at least allow that you do not know all that can be known about the Mind of God, or the entirety of the plan for salvation.

  • Dominic Glisinski

    Unless you believe that every human being born before the Incarnation is in hell, the “through Me” has to include some mechanism for people reaching the Father through the Christ even if they never heard of Jesus of Nazareth in life.
    quote by Peter
    ———————————————–
    You miss the point of which the Scriptures speak clearly. The “new and living way” (Heb 10:20) is that which the OT saints looked forward in faith and dying in hope, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb 11:13). The notion that there were two ways to be saved, one in the OT and one in the NT is nonsense. One era looked forward and died in hope, the other looks back in faith to Christ’s death and resurrection. What do you suppose Jesus was doing in the place of departed souls while His Body lay in the tomb if not gathering His own? “Let’s go”!
    Whether or not we need define some “mechanism” as you suggest for granting salvation to those who never heard the name of Christ is moot. Does not Psalm 19 hint that all creation cries out and points to the One who made all things? And does not a later writer suggest that all are “without excuse”? No one goes to Hell unjustly, but nowhere in the Great Commission can I find instructions, even implied, that we can slack off in hopes that all sincere seekers will ultimately find their own version of “christ”.
    I do not profess to know “all that can be known about the Mind of God, or the entirety of the plan for salvation”, I only know what the Bible reveals, and that leaves no room for taking chances. Best to preach Christ and Him crucified as the one and only way.

  • Dominic Glisinski

    My post above is precisely why I’ll never make a good Episcopalian presiding Bishop…Ummmm is not my concept of biblical exposition.

  • Pingback: CaNN :: We started it.

  • Karen B.

    Filipe, the full transcript of the interview, and a link to the audio file is here. It was transcribed by the Classical Anglican Net News folks.

    Transcript:
    http://www.anglican.tk/?page_id=793

    Audio link (starts at about 21:00)
    http://realserver.bu.edu:8080/ramgen/w/b/wbur/herenow/2006/10/hn_1018.rm

  • Peter

    What do you suppose Jesus was doing in the place of departed souls while His Body lay in the tomb if not gathering His own? “Let’s go”!

    Exactly that. I also suppose that departed modern non-Christian souls will recieve the same opportunity from the same Christ for the same reason. Many sheep, different flocks, and all that. It is not ours to decide who belongs to God and who doesn’t.

    I won’t continue to debate this; it is off the topic of discussing the article. But I do think it illustrates that “all or none” are not the only two possible choices, as the original article seemed to take as a given.

    Blessings.

  • Joel

    I love the Tmatt trio for exactly the same reason Tmatt does — we’re on the same wavelength here (even if he’s an Anglican defector and I’m not. :-)

    There are political, business and religious leaders trying to skate through life trying to be all things to all people — either because they’re centrists and want to straddle a great divide, or because they are a wolf in sheep’s clothing — something that won’t sell so they hide their true colors.

    It seems unfathomable that someone could rise to the head of a national church without having a personal opinion on the basic theological questions of the tri. So is this a fudge or pure dissembling? (The ECUSA pattern of the past 20 years has been the latter).

  • jayman

    If KJS had wanted to invoke the “anonymous” Christians option in any of its forms she’s smart enough to easily have done so. But, pace Peter, the issue is not over how broad God’s work in salvation is, but who KJS believes God is in the first place. Is God more or less who’s described in the Nicene Creed or is that just our best shot within our honorable but un-unique Christian tradition?

    Look at her last statement especially the bit about Hindus don’t have to experience God through Jesus. If she wanted to add, but Jesus must reveal himself to them for them to experience salvation she could have said words to that effect, and she’s scrupulous in not so doing. I don’t know how anyone could read it as anything other than what you would expect from someone who invites Spong to a clergy conference in her capacity as Bishop. She doesn’t believe God’s identity is confined within the Christian Revelation. She’s a religious relativist plain & simple.

    What drives folks like me up the wall about folks like her is not so much what she believes, or even her audacity in leading an ostensibly Christian body, but the seemingly pathological inability to state clearly and honestly what she does believe: that Christianity is but one of many ways of relating to the “divine.”

  • Peter

    Can’t it be acceptable or understandable for someone to have personal convictions while at the same time understanding that others in the organization that they are in charge of may have others?
    Why do you assume that she doesn’t have personal opinions on these issues? Do you take for granted that the only position with integrity is to force one’s opinions on others?

    Maybe she just feels that it isn’t HER opinions and convictions that are the most important, but other’s relationships to God, and that being to explicit on her own opinions would shift the focus from Jesus to her.

  • Larry Rasczak

    Peter,

    You ask good questions, and for almost any other institution I would agree with you.

    But someone like KJS… from where my fat behind sits, I’d say it’s pretty much her JOB to have these sort of opinions. I wouldn’t expect the CEO of McDonalds to be able to answer a question about “many ways to God’, but I WOULD expect him to be able to give me very coherant answers about why McRib isn’t always on the menu. Similarly I don’t expect KJS should have the finer details of what sort of oil is best for making fries at her finger tips, but I do expect her to be able to answer something like this without going all “um…ah… the dog ate my homework…” on us.

    She leads a Church, and the stock and trade of a Chuch is answering these sort of questions. She’s supposed to actually BELIEVE this stuff, not as “my opinion”, or as an academic construct, but as a honest to goodness, real as gravy and gravity, FACT. The job of a religious leader is to stand for, vigoriously defend, and promote their Faith, not just to punt and say “Oh, whatever you think about God is fine I’m sure…” The focus here isn’t on Jesus, the focus here is so fuzzy, soft, and indistict that we can’t tell what, if anything, the foucs is on.

    Lastly, I don’t think one should have people in a religious organization that don’t agree with the religion. That’s like CEO of McDonalds saying “Whoppers really are better than anything we make here. Our food stinks. I only work here because of the stock options and the dental plan.” Disloyalty is not inspirational.

    I say that if you sincerely believe X is true then go to the 1st Church of X, and if you believe Y, then go to the Reformed Church of Y, but don’t sit in the pews (or even worse work for, much less lead) the Church of Y thinking “this is such a crock”. That’s dishonest.

    Now if you will excuse me, I have to go find a late night burger stand…

  • Dominic Glisinski

    Well said larry!
    The office of a bishop is to be the focal point of unity in the diocese, representing the larger One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. More importantly, they are to be the teacher and guardian of Apostolic doctrine, not make up their own version, but to pass on that which they have received. Everyone with even a smattering of biblical understanding, both within TEC and without is agreed that a less-qualified person could not have been chosen. Unless, of course, there is an intentional plotting to establish some entirely new religion, a blend of Unitarianism and New Age with the appeal of historic faith. I think David Virtue has written more than once that the machinations he sees could easily result in another entirely separate non-Canterbury “communion” of churches united around 815… What we need is some snoopy reporter who can rifle some desk drawers and dig up memos and emails and juxtapose them alongside recent public offerings and events…

  • Peter

    But it sounded to me like she DID have an answer. Read her statements without the transcripted “Um’s” and “Ah’s” and you’ll get quite a coherent answer that Christians have a path to God through Jesus, and that others experience God through their own cultures. You may disagree with her answer, but it isn’t out of line with Christianity.

    I think it was fairly churlish of whoever transcribed the interview to go out of their way to include all the um’s and ah’s in the bishop’s response. Strikes me as a fairly deliberate way of making her look bad. In fact, if you actually listen to the interview, the transcriber actually ADDED a couple of pauses and an “Uhh…” that the bishop didn’t even say, and left out the pauses and ums in the interviewer’s speaking.

    If you listen to it, it is obvious that she is being careful and choosing her words, rather than being unclear in her beliefs. It is also worth noting (and not mentioned in the article above, I note), that, at least up to that point in the interview, every question was pollite and gracious, but adversarial: people are saying this is why you are wrong, defend your views. All the more reason for her to choose carefully.

    Remember, this was a radio interview for a wide audience, not a question by members of her denomination for members of her denomination. Sounds like you are asking her to announce on national radio that she thinks everyone who isn’t Christian is going to hell — and I don’t think she believes that. It sounded like a very reasoned and balanced reply to me. Have you listened to it in context?

    Whoever transcribed that was clearly biased.

  • Dominic Glisinski

    Sounds like you are asking her to announce on national radio that she thinks everyone who isn’t Christian is going to hell — and I don’t think she believes that.
    ——————————

    Here you are correct. Exactly.
    Sort of takes the urgency out of the Great Commission…more of a suggestion for when we run out of Millennium Development Goal stuff…

  • jayman

    Peter said:

    “But it sounded to me like she DID have an answer. Read her statements without the transcripted “Um’s” and “Ah’s” and you’ll get quite a coherent answer that Christians have a path to God through Jesus, and that others experience God through their own cultures. You may disagree with her answer, but it isn’t out of line with Christianity.”

    I agree it’s not at all mysterious what KJS believes. My complaint is that she won’t come out and clearly state those beliefs and their practical consequences: “I am a religious pluralist. My religion is but one among many and while I prefer it Christianity is no more or less ‘true’ than Islam or Hinduism, and those who think otherwise are wrong and effectively bigots. We are all but equal parts of a greater spiritual whole. My religion was wrong in this respect for the great majority of its history and we should redefine our creeds and restructure our liturgy to reflect this fact.” I could at least respect her for being intellectually honest at that point, but the stampede out of the Episcopal Church would only increase as well as the shunning from bishops outside the US, and she’ll never do such a thing. She knows this, and thus the “umms” and “ahhs” the transcription of which troubled you so.

    And it isn’t just me BTW who disagrees w/ KJS on this score but the vast, vast majority of Christians, past & present, of RC, Protestant and Orthodox flavors. KJS believes in a different religion than they did and as well as than what I do. So in fact her answer is out of line with Christianity so long as you think Christianity is more than whatever somebody wants it to be whenever someone wants to be called a Christian.

    Peter also said:

    “Sounds like you are asking her to announce on national radio that she thinks everyone who isn’t Christian is going to hell — and I don’t think she believes that.”

    No on both counts. My point was never about KJS not believing that only professing Christians will be saved, but whether or not she believes God is who the Bible and the Creeds confess Him to be to the exclusion of other confessions from other religions, and that salvation can only come through this God and His Christ. She doesn’t believe that, and I’d find it refreshing if she was up front and unapologetic about it.

  • Pam Phillips

    I have recently been following GetReligion closely. I have to admit I don’t “get” all of the articles, but the ones I do get are unfailingly challenging and thought-provoking. I came across this article just now, and thought it was one you might want to take a look at. I don’t know quite where to put it so that you will see it. Anyway, here it is, a story about the coming visit between the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury and their issues. I think we need more stories like this. I would like to see some articles that take this and go into greater depth. Of course, it was written by a Jesuit, not by a secular newsperson. Anyway, with all the bad press both Catholicism and Anglicanism have been receiving, it is nice to see something like this appear.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/11/22/opinion/edpeck.php

  • http://vogelbeere.livejournal.com/ Yvonne

    On the issue of truth in different religions. My view is that they’re true insofar as they agree on what appear to be “universal” spiritual truths. Salvation appears to be an unique concept to Christianity, therefore unlikely to be true. Ideas such as the immanence of the divine in nature appear to be fairly widely recognised, therefore likely to be true. I also feel that the divine is so big and multifaceted that we’re all looking at it from an unique perspective, even from within the same religious tradition, and so one individual cannot hold the whole truth. We see through a glass darkly…

    Here’s some reflections on truth by me and another Pagan.

  • http://vogelbeere.livejournal.com/ Yvonne

    Just read the account of the worship of other gods – that is frankly bizarre. Though arguably it was the performance of a piece of music that mentions various Pagan deities (rather than an act of worship as such), it is somewhat surprising to find it in a church. I get twitchy if Christian liturgy is included in Pagan ritual, so I can understand the disquiet here, even if it is from another perspective.

    I don’t have a problem with syncretic traditions, as long as they say that’s what they are, so people who don’t want syncretism can go elsewhere. It is the unexpected inclusion of non-core elements in a ritual that can cause disquiet, I think.