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Can Only One Religion Be True?

Paul Knitter and Harold Netland in Dialogue

edited by Robert B. Stewart

Publication Year: 2013

This volume highlights points of agreement and disagreement on the subject of religious pluralism. The dialogue partners in the discussion are Paul F. Knitter, Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions, and Culture at Union Theological Seminary, and Harold A Netland, professor of Mission and Evangelism and director of Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

A transcript of the March 2009 Point-Counterpoint event between Knitter and Netland allows the reader to see how each presents his position in light of the others, as well as their responses to selected audience questions. The balance of the volume is comprised of substantive essays on various facets of the question of religious pluralism from a diverse set of scholars. The Greer Heard Point-Counterpoint series takes pride in presenting a fair and balanced case for both sides of complex issues, and in providing the tools for students and scholars to form their own conclusions.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xiv

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pp. xv-xvi

The purpose of the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum in Faith and Culture is to provide a venue for fair-minded dialogue to take place on subjects of importance in religion or culture. The intention is to have a respected Evangelical scholar dialogue with a respected non-Evangelical or non-Christian scholar. ...

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pp. xvii-xx

Thanking others in print always causes me a bit of anxiety because I fear I will fail to recognize someone who truly deserves a word of appreciation. But many deserve to be publicly thanked—and even praised—so I must go on. ...

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Can Only One Religion Be True? Considering This Question

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pp. 1-16

The church bus was dark that night as our youth group made its way back home. I don’t remember where we had been, but I do remember the subject of the conversation. A friend of mine asked what happens to people who die without ever hearing of Jesus. I had never considered that question prior to that night. ...

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1. Can Only One Religion Be True?: A Dialogue

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pp. 17-54

Given the bewildering degree of religious diversity in our world, the assertion that Christianity is the one true religion for all people strikes many today as hopelessly out of touch with current realities. The claim seems to display generous amounts of both intellectual naïveté and arrogance. ...

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2. Theologies of Religious Diversity: Toward a Catholic and catholic Assessment

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pp. 55-78

Judgments about the fittingness of various proposed theologies of religious diversity vary as much as the theologies do. All too often, however, people rush to judgment on the basis that a given theological proposal does or does not fit with the Bible or the tradition. ...

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3. No Other Name: The Gospel and True Religions

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pp. 79-90

I would like to focus on three aspects of the word true in the question “Is Christianity the only true religion?” In one sense, we use the word true to mean “the real thing.” This is true coffee, not an imitation. That person is exhibiting true integrity, not a semblance of it. What is true is authentic. ...

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4. General Revelation, Inclusivism, Pluralism, and Postmodernism

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pp. 91-104

Central to the discussion of the validity and efficacy of world religions is the doctrine of general revelation. While Christian exclusivists insist that a proper relationship with God requires knowledge of him through his special revelatory work, inclusivists contend that the knowledge of God available to all persons makes such a relationship possible, ...

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5. Is Christianity the Only True Religion, or One among Others?

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pp. 105-116

The likelihood is that you are a Christian. So the question I am raising is inevitably an uncomfortable one. For you may have taken it for granted, for as long as you can remember, that of course Christianity is the only true religion, or at least much the most true. ...

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6. John Hick’s Monotheistic Shadow

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pp. 117-138

The British scholar John Hick has spent a lifetime investigating a wide range of issues related to the philosophy of religion. Today, Hick is most widely known for his articulation and defense of religious pluralism. In barest terms, Hick’s mature pluralist philosophy of world religions holds, “The great world faiths embody different perceptions of, ...

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7. Why the World Is Not Religiously Ambiguous: A Critique of Religious Pluralism

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pp. 139-162

The Enlightenment’s disdain for special revelation and religious particularism is reflected in the story of Nathan the Wise, penned by biblical critic Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781). In this story, a father “in a far Eastern clime” possesses a priceless magic ring. Yet he rather unwisely promises the ring to each of his three sons. ...

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8. Has Normative Religious Pluralism a Rationale?

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pp. 163-180

In what follows, I assume that there actually are religions.1 What we call religions are not simply scholarly artifacts. This assumption is shared by religious pluralism, both descriptive and normative. If there are not, religious pluralism must be at least radically recast. ...

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9. Religious Diversity and the Futility of Neutrality

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pp. 181-202

Any attempt to define religion is certainly hazardous and probably misguided. But acknowledging this does not satisfy our ambition to understand what is broadly characteristic of religion. Many students of religion seeking a family resemblance among religions employ two devices, both of which are conceptual. ...

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10. Can the Jews Be the Chosen People of God?

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pp. 203-215

Can the Jews be the chosen people of God? The honest answer to that question is simple. As my teacher Father Gerard Sloyan taught, “in the strict theological sense, God alone knows.”1 So it is with some trepidation and a good dose of humility that I enter this conversation. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781451426373
E-ISBN-10: 1451426372
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800699284
Print-ISBN-10: 0800699289

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2013