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Pluralism v. Jesus examined in Midwestern Journal of Theology

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Four Christian philosophers take on the subject of religious pluralism in the spring issue of the Midwestern Journal of Theology, released on March 22.

J.P. Moreland of Talbot School of Theology, Ronald Nash of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Win Corduan of Taylor University and Steve Lemke of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary engage and critique pluralistic thinking which, according to managing editor Terry Wilder, undermines biblical Christianity.

“In our day the biblical doctrine that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation is under fierce attack,” said Wilder, associate professor of New Testament and Greek at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. “The articles in this issue expose some of the theological underpinnings — or lack thereof — of religious pluralism and thus arm readers with information to better contend for the faith and proclaim the biblical teaching that Jesus is indeed the only Savior.”

“We are honored to publish the work of these outstanding scholars,” Midwestern President R. Philip Roberts said. “The issues addressed and the manner in which they are treated are of enormous significance.”

In the opening article, Moreland, a noted philosopher and apologist, clarifies and critiques four different forms of postmodernism in an article titled, “Pluralism and Four Grades of Postmodern Involvement.”

Nash, who is author of several books including “Is Jesus the Only Savior?” evaluates the thinking of well-known religious pluralist leader John Hick. Nash examines two stages of pluralistic development in Hick’s philosophy and details his view on salvation, truth and Jesus Christ.

“John Hick has a prominent standing among those who teach and write about the major world religions,” Nash writes. “He also speaks as a self-professed ‘Christian’ intellectual. This explains why many people’s ideas about Christianity and the world religions are being filtered through the grid of Hick’s theories.”

Nash notes that “Hick’s approach to Christianity and religion is presented to many college and seminary students as brilliant, compassionate, and tolerant. For this reason, Hick’s ideas are having a far greater influence than they deserve.”

Nash concludes by stating that “pluralism is hardly an intellectually responsible place to find an alternative to the Christian faith.”

In the journal’s third article, Corduan details two kinds of pluralism — congenial and aggressive.

“I have tried to show that there are two kinds of pluralism being advocated today, the aggressive kind defended by John Hick and Wilfred Cantwell Smith, and the more congenial species promoted by William Alston and S. Mark Heim,” Corduan writes. “Neither option, however, does justice to the reality of the world of religions.” Corduan’s article is titled, “Congenial Pluralism: Why It Does Not Work.”

Lemke, in the fourth article titled, “Pluralism and Relativism in Richard Rorty’s Liberal Utopia,” critiques Rorty’s philosophy, showing how relativism is fundamentally flawed and not a sound foundation for religious pluralism.

Lemke describes Rorty as “one of the high priests of postmodernity in America. Once a leading analytic philosopher, Rorty abandoned the modernist quest for absolute truth and certainty and cast in his lot in the company of those who affirmed a postmodernist world in which all truth is relative.”

Although Rorty does not evidence “religious commitments,” Lemke notes that Rorty’s relativist thought “has provided a conceptual framework that is foundational for many contemporary religious pluralists and relativists.”

Also in the journal, Timothy Jones, pastor of First Baptist Church of Rolling Hills in Tulsa, Okla., sets forth a biblical model of Christian formation in an article titled, “James W. Fowler’s Stages of Faith and Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Gefuehl as Spiritual Transcendence: An Evangelical Rethinking of Fowler’s Model of Faith Development.”
The Midwestern Journal of Theology is a publication of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. A subscription or copies of the journal can be obtained by contacting MBTS at (816) 414-3700.

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  • Cory Miller