Sunday, May 03, 2009

Baaa...hd Omissions

Today's blog is dedicated to the One Good Shepherd. May we be bold enough to declare His name.

Today's sermon was provided by the Rev. Mary Cat Young (probably because Fr. Foss is recovering from the flu). On a Sunday when the readings included Psalm 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.

And Acts 4:5-12 where Peter claimed:
"This Jesus is
'the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.'
12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved."

And 1 John 3:16-24 where we hear,
23 "And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us."

And John 10:11-18 where the Lord says,
14 "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd."

we heard a sermon that focused on our sheep-hood. There was a little in there about the shepherd's job, and a bit on the importance of the upcoming Bishop search and selection in our Diocese (Upper SC), but not one word on the issue of exclusivism which is what these lessons led me to consider.

There are four basic ways to handle the claims that Jesus is the One Good Shepherd. One is the way of exclusivism. This seems to be the claim of Peter, and he was bold enough to proclaim this even though it would eventually lead to his own death crucified upside down in Rome.

Another approach is inclusivism. This approach would have us believe that God, somehow will lead all to salvation.

The next approach is pluralism where there is an underlying reality to which all religions lead.

Pluralism seems to be the majority position among Christians that Jesus is only one way by which people are "saved."
According to the Pew Forum survey 83 % of members of "mainline" protestant churches along with 79% of Catholics feel this way.

And then there is parallelism where each religion stands as saving in its own context(this reminds me of the jokes about separate heavens for each religion).

No discussion would be complete without mentioning Universalism. This would be to say that a good a good Wiccan, or even a good agnostic, can have everlasting life.

There are elements of universalism in pluralism, parallelism and even in inclusivism. I myself have wandered into these territories. They are very tempting, but today's lessons lead me out of my "inexclusivism" (Jesus can make himself known to those who do not have the chance to know Him in this lifetime hinted at in John 10:11-18) and towards exclusivism.

Did I hear anything in today's sermon to lead me out of the pasture of mainstream universalism?

Have I gone astray?!


  1. Balaam's Ass6:13 PM

    The Universalist Church and the Unitarian Church were able to unite since the Universalists taught that God was too good to damn people, and the Unitarians taught that people were too good for God to damn. The end result being the same, they got together. I don't dread the people who understand that lots of people will go to hell. The people I dread are those who ~want~ lots of people to go to hell.

  2. No, you haven't missed anything, but consider the thoughts of Karl Rahner (I can't believe I'm quoting him, having suffered through a seminar class on his theology. UGH!). He posited the notion of the "anonymous Christian" and explained it thusly:

    Anonymous Christianity means that a person lives in the grace of God and attains salvation outside of explicitly constituted Christianity — Let us say, a Buddhist monk — who, because he follows his conscience, attains salvation and lives in the grace of God; of him I must say that he is an anonymous Christian; if not, I would have to presuppose that there is a genuine path to salvation that really attains that goal, but that simply has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. But I cannot do that. And so, if I hold if everyone depends upon Jesus Christ for salvation, and if at the same time I hold that many live in the world who have not expressly recognized Jesus Christ, then there remains in my opinion nothing else but to take up this postulate of an anonymous Christianity.

    If you accept this theory, you get to say at once that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him and that through the grace of Christ, even Buddhists can attain salvation. Before you protest too loudly, remember that Rahner for all practical purposes was the main theologian of Vatican II. This theory is controversial, but considered orthodox in Roman circles.

  3. see John 14:6 for your answer

  4. Anonymous11:46 AM

    Underground Pewster, why do you continue to stick around at the Rock Hill branch of the "cult"?

  5. Cult? Am I in a cult? Uh oh, all this time I thought I was being served Kool-Aid.

  6. A better response to Anonymous is found over at Northern Plains Anglican in a post by Fr. Tim Fountain.

  7. What I appreciate about the UP is his ability to think out loud and embrace orthodoxy without gnashing his teeth. A rare and refreshing gift.

  8. I am the very model of a modern major specialist.

  9. Gilbert & Sullivan would have you strung up from the highest yardarm for that.

  10. There's another model of salvation not mentioned: most religions don't save, but a few do.