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|Title:||Christ for All: Toward a Lutheran Theology of Religions|
|Advisor:||Studebaker, Steven M.|
Heath, Gordon L.
|Abstract:||Lutherans have, from the earliest days of the movement, expressed evangelical concern for all human beings, Christian and non-Christian alike. Martin Luther had little contact with the religions, and produced no systematic theology of religions, but his many writings on the converting power of the Gospel indicate that he was profoundly interested in mission for the sake of bringing all persons to Christ. Luther's legacy continues to inform Lutheran outreach in a religious milieu that is characterized by remarkable interreligious awareness. Unfortunately, Lutherans have throughout their 500-year history existed in relatively homogeneous Christian contexts, meaning there was until recent decades no practical necessity to ruminate on the religions and their distinctive beliefs and practices. What is by no means clear is the degree to which Christian witness is required so that salvation among the non-Christian traditions may be experienced. As each religious tradition has a theology of religions, whether implicit or explicit, the task of this dissertation is to develop and articulate a Lutheran theology of religions, using Lutheran categories (natural and supernatural theology, atonement theory, and the theology of religions) and premises (sola gratia, sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola Christus, Law and Gospel) to assess the relative value of the religions. A Christian theology of religions must be concerned not only with the Gospel as preached, but also with the implications ofliving as followers of Christ in a religiously plural world. To this end, Lutherans, by virtue of their commitment to confessionalism and ecclesiology, can give colour and definition to the role Christianity should play in interreligious dialogue. The position confessional Lutherans hold with respect to the religions is a "soft exclusivism," a Christocentric emphasis that rejects inclusivism and pluralism as reductionistic with respect to Christ and the Gospel, and relativistic with respect to the non-Christian traditions. Only when Christ is the unique and exclusive Saviour, revealed by the Spirit and acknowledged, does the Gospel, grace, and the righteousness of God take precedence and build faith. A Lutheran theology of religions requires faith, but should not limit the manner in which it is offered, or God's hand in preserving it. The institutional church is the ordinary vehicle for dissemination of the means of grace, but salvific grace can exist and be attained outside of her, at the behest and discretion of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the sacrifice of Christ, divine righteousness on behalf of human righteousness, can have universal implications (substitutionary and participatory) which demonstrate infinite divine love. This is the essence of a Lutheran theology of religions.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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