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Beyond The ImpasseRevelation in other religions?

Are people who have never even heard of Jesus thereby condemned to hell, when their failure to hear is no fault of their own? Could there possibly be avenues of divine revelation in other religions to reach such people?

Beyond the Impasse by Amos Yong (Paternoster, 2003, ISBN 1-84227-208-4) tackles this issue head on. It is subtitled Toward a Pneumatological Theology of Religions. A Pentecostal theologian, Yong examines the idea that the Holy Spirit is active even where Christ has not been proclaimed, and he may use aspects of culture and religion to draw people to God and salvation.

The word 'toward' in the title hints that the author is not going to come up with any dogmatic conclusion. But there's a lot of food for thought here.

It must be possible for those who have either never heard or never understood the gospel to be saved since God desires that none should perish and has made salvation available to all persons in his own mysterious ways (e.g. 1 Tim 2:3-4; John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). As such, the Christology of John's Gospel that emphasises the Logos as the true light 'which enlightens everyone' (John 1:9) is central to theological inclusivism.  (p23)

I do not see any scriptural justification for connecting evangelism and missions with the fear of eternal damnation.  (p26)

I am close to the inclusivist position that affirms the ontological normativity of Christ for salvation without insisting that persons who have never heard the gospel or verbally confess Christ have absolutely no hope of this great salvation.  (p27)

[Re the 1990 Baar theological consultation] Whereas traditional formulations had subjected the economy of the Spirit to that of the Son, perhaps in order to preserve the availability of salvation only under and through the name, person and work of Jesus, a pneumatological approach that affirmed the related but distinct economy of the Spirit seemed to make more readily accessible the saving grace of God to all persons, and especially those who had never had an opportunity to receive the gospel. As such, starting with pneumatology rather than with christology invited theological reflection on and exploration of the possibility of the Spirit's 'saving presence' and 'saving power' in the non-Christian faiths.  (p83)

[Re Jacques Dupuis] While he straightforwardly asserts…that 'Christocentrism and Pneumatology are two inseparable aspects of the Christian mystery,' he is also careful to say that 'the influence of the Spirit reveals the action of Christ, not vice versa.' The central question for theology of religions is how the action of the Spirit is mediated to those of other faiths through their own traditions.  (p98)

It seems that inclusivism will remain less than convincing as long as it cannot be more specific about how truth is to be argued or how the Spirit is to be discerned in the concrete world of the religions…. This questions about discernment has come up repeatedly and emerged as the potential Achilles' heel of any pneumatological theology of religions.  (p128)

The question of the relationship of the Spirit to Christ and to his church has been replayed down through the ages in the Filioque debate. In terms of the historical formulas, is the Spirit solely 'from the Father,' 'from the Father and the Son,' 'from the Father of the Son,' or even 'from the Father through the Son'? The result of this debate may be pertinent to the question of whether or not a pneumatology of religions is possible. If indeed the Filioque is reasserted, pneumatology may remain subordinated to christology, thereby minimally securing the fulfilment theory—the notion that other faiths, including Judaism, are valid only as anticipations of the Christian revelation and therefore are fulfilled by Christ—and perhaps reinforcing the Catholic doctrine of extra ecclesiam nulla salus. However, there is growing agreement in the West regarding the dogmatic illegitimacy of the Filioque particularly in light of its intrusion into the creed outside the recognised conciliar processes.  (p186)

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