Part Two: Genuine Pluralism & Reformed Christology
- Thursday, May 12, 2005
Melcher then challenges the traditional and scholarly understanding of the historical and sociological background to passages that promote an exclusivist Christology. Her position is that differing factors led the writers of Scripture to promote such a position and that in our current context, that position must be rejected as contemporary factors have changed. (Her logic is that if you can't refute the text, simply deny the text).
In a postmodern world, truth is not static. To borrow from the ancient postmodern philosopher Hereclitus, truth is in a state of flux. One can never be certain of anything. One can never step into the same river twice for fresh waters are always flowing upon him. Hereclitus and Melcher are not the only ones who hold to such non-sensical notions. The church is drowning in the flowing waters of flux as new currents of truth rush past those who stand in the river not knowing which current to ride or even how to get out of such a torrent.
Two other Reformed principles of interpretation are cited by Melcher: the principle that Christ is that to which all Scripture points and the principle of dependence upon the leadership of the Holy Spirit in interpreting and applying God's message in Scripture. She notes that the first principle suggests that Jesus' attitude should inform our interpretation of Scripture and then reflects upon whether or not the "doctrine of salvation only through Christ is something that Jesus himself would promote.
If the purpose of the incarnation was to reconcile human beings to God, does the doctrine of salvation only through Christ serve that primary purpose? Or, does this exclusivist doctrine work against the reconciliation of human beings to one another and so represent an attitude that would not be supported by Jesus himself?"
We can only respond that Jesus did promote Himself as the exclusive Savior of the world. Note too how Melcher confuses two issues. She states that the purpose of the incarnation is to reconcile human beings to God and then states the doctrine of the exclusivity of Christ works against the reconciliation of human beings to one another.
While it does no such thing, Melcher has inserted her humanist bent. She forgets that which is ultimate: reconciliation to God, and substitutes that which is her main concern and agenda: the reconciliation of human beings to one another. She is not so much concerned that we get our theology right, but that we don't appear to be narrow or bigoted. Getting along with Muslims or Jews is more important that remaining true to God and/or seeing them saved from eternal judgment.
Consider the words of John R.W. Stott with reference to the exclusivity of Christ and the reconciliation of human beings to God and to one another. "It is understandable that since the holocaust Jews have demanded an end to the Christian missionary activity among them, and that many Christians have felt embarrassed about continuing it. It is even mooted that Jewish evangelism is an unacceptable form of anti-Semitism.
So some Christians have attempted to develop a theological basis for leaving Jews alone in their Judaism. Reminding us that God's covenant with Abraham was an 'everlasting covenant', they maintain that it is still in force, and that therefore God saves Jewish people through their own covenant, without any necessity for them to believe in Jesus.
This proposal is usually called a 'two-covenant theology'. Bishop Krister Stendahl was one of the first scholars to argue for it, namely that there are two different salvation 'tracks'-the Christian track for the believing remnant and believing Gentiles, and the track for historical Israel which relies on God's covenant with them. Romans 11 stands in clear opposition to this trend because of its insistence on the fact that there is only one olive tree, to which Jews and Gentile believers both belong... 'The irony of this,' writes Tom Wright, 'is that the late twentieth century, in order to avoid anti-Semitism, has advocated a position (the non-evangelization of the Jews) which Paul regards precisely as anti-Semitic.'"
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