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SOME DOGMATIC CONSEQUENCES OF PAUL F. KNITTER'S UNITARIAN THEOCENTRISM PAUL D. MOLNAR St. John's University Jamaica, New York EACTIONS TO Paul Knitter's No Other Nanie? vary from criticizing his "unitarian theocentrism" 1 and his sliding away from "creedal Chrisitology" 2 to unequivocail endorsement of his" less Christocentric approach to a theo1ogy of religions;" 3 this shows the challenge Knitter poses to current dogmatics. This 1arHcile w1ll explore three critical dogmatic issues related to Knitter's non-normative ChristoJogy. First, can the idea that Jesus is one savior among others be defonded froni within the Christian-Catholic 1tradition without yie1ding the truth of Christology? Second, if "Jesus remains universailly normativ ;e " for Christians while " other revelations or rev;ea:lers might also be universaUy normative," then does this not p:vomote some form of docetic Christology and lead to a unitarianism, exduded by the naiture of the God revealed in Christ? Third, on the basis of " l'eligious experience " Knitter olaims to perceive an" evolution from ecolesiocentrism to chrfatocentrism to theocentrism" and finally to "soteriooentrism." 4 Is there 1!1ea1ly such an evolution? And if there is noit, oan those who de- ~end the tradition succeed by arguing from experience and praxis rather than from revelation and faith? 5 Moreover, if 1"Review Symposium: Paul Knitter's No Other Name?: A Critical Survey of OMistian Attitudes toward the World Religions," in Horizons 13 (1986): 116-135. This is the view of Daniel Sheridan, p. llS. 2 This is the view of Denise Carmody. Ibid., p. 122. s This is the view of William Cenkner. Ibid., p. 127. 4 Ibid., pp. 133-34. 5 Denise Carmody, e.g., believes that we should stress praxis more than 449 450 PAUL D. MOLNAR we think the tradition should not be defended, have we not ceased to think about theological truth? Rather, have we not made divinity itself indis:tingiuishab1e from our human experiences and praxis at the outset? And does this not open the door to both polytheism allJd pantheism? By making God hut noit Christ normative, Knitter's " nonnormati ¥e" Christology re-1transiates the truth of Jesus' oonsubstantiality with the Father into the content of a myth, an experienice or a vailue judgment having no re1ality in itseH.6 It then defines :reveiLation and salvation .aocording to a unitarian view of God. While Knitter denies this,7 his reasoning aictuaUy is unitarian: In my proposed model, Jesus remains universally normative, but I am asking whether Christians can recognize that other revelations or revealers might also be universally normative. Could there be a complementary uniqueness among the religious traditions of the world? To try to answer that question, 'intellectual conversion; ... is a requisite. But it will have to be an intellectual conversion that walks more than' the way to Nicea and Chalcedon' ... only on the basis of the praxis of authentic dialogue-grounded in intellectual , moral, and religious conversion-can we know the unique~ ness of Christ.8 doctrine without relativizing Christ. Thus, for her, Rahner's Christology does not mean " that Christians cannot be open to the Buddha or Lord Krishna," Ibid., p. 126. The problem is that this very thinking already relativizes Christ. 6 Even theologians who do not intend the radical views of John Hick run a similar risk by beginning Christology from below in the manner of Paul Knitter. Cf., e.g., Edward L. Krasevac, O.P., "' Christology From Above' And 'Christology From Below '," The Thomist, 51 (1987) : 299-306, arguing that "Christological faith is an apostolic faith that has its origins in a historical process which began with the public ministry of our Lord. . . ." (p. 300) causes us to ask what makes Christology true? Is it "the actual apostolic process " (306) or is it Jesus as the Lord who is and remains the sole foundation and validation for faith in any age? Does this approach not leave the door open to the kind of evolution which Knitter claims to have discovered in Christianity, which then enables him to move beyond Jesus as the only Lord and Savior? 1 Review Symposium, Horizons, p. 131. s Ibid., p. 133. KNITTER'S UNITARIAN THEOCENTRISM 451 Here the ha:.sis...


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