Postliberal Theology and Its Relationship Research Paper

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As Jeffrey Stout has it, following James' "Will-to-Believe," "We need not agree on all matters of moral importance to agree on many, and where our judgments happen to coincide we need not reach them for the same reasons." (Fackre, 2003)

Fackre states that there are five pluralist views as follows:

View 1: Common Core. At the center of all the great religions of humankind is found a common core of divine (however conceived) doing, disclosing and delivering. Each faith approaches it through its own heroes, expresses it in its own language, celebrates it in its own rituals, formulates it in its own rules of behavior, and passes it on in its own communal forms. While the rhetoric of each religion may claim that its way, truth and life are for all, these absolutist professions are, in fact, "love talk," the metaphors of commitment, not the metaphysics of reality. Jesus is, therefore, "my savior," not "the savior." In pop idiom, "you do your thing and I'll do mine." Christian faith and other religions are different routes to the same core Reality.

View 2: Common Quest. Perspective 2 makes no claim for a reachable core, as perspective does. Postmodern ambiguity rather than modern foundational certainty is the order of the day. Religions are quests for self-understanding, not paths to Reality. Like the relativism of the common core view, this too is describable in popular idiom as "different strokes for different folks." Unlike it, View 2 judges that the common quest provides no way to an ultimate truth and life. Rather, "my savior" is the profession and practice of "what works for me" in the midst of my day-to-day penultimacies, a pragmatic test in a postmodern world for what is self-referentially adequate.

View 3: Common Pool. Like its predecessors, View 3 gives pride of place to religious commonalities, but seeks to respect the uniqueness of a religion and not dissolve it into a common core, contra View 1, and insists that such is in touch with Reality, not just involved in a quest for it as in View 2. It does this by maintaining that each is its own distinct reconciling way to ultimate Reality, disclosing some needed aspect of ultimate truth, delivering its devotees to saving life through its own means. The way of Christ grants to Christians access to Reality, offers a distinct illuminating take on the truth, and delivers ultimate life through its unique portal. The challenge is to pool the best from each with the goal of a "world faith."

View 4: Common Community. Challenging the individualism of the foregoing options, the common community view sees us as creatures of formative cultures. Our communal destiny is normative for us as well as descriptive of us, a call to know who we are, and live out of the traditions in which we are immersed. For Christians, this means clarity about our defining characteristics, knowing our ecclesial language and lore and respecting our community's rules of believing and behaving. Christ can be no other than the way, truth and life for us. Given our postmodern circumstances, we can lay no claim to reaching ultimate reality through our way, or assert such to be true and saving for everyone. Hence, Christians are to "keep the faith," but acknowledge that they share with others the common condition of ambiguity

View 5: Common Range. The fifth perspective shares the pluralist premise of the former options. The religions are on common ground in matters of way, truth and life, all providing reconciliation, revelation and redemption. However, when it comes to disclosure of the Really Real -- accessible here too, as in Views 1 and 3 -- Jesus' light is the brightest and best. To change the figure, Jesus is on the same mountain range as Mohammad, Buddha, Moses -- or for that matter other great prophets from Socrates to Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. -- but is the Mt. Everest among the peaks of human experience. The difference is in degree, not kind, for Christ offers the same saving benefits as other high religions. ." (Fackre, 2003)

Fackre states that the following five views state the definitive singularity of God's deed in Jesus Christ for the reconciliation of the world:

View 6: Anonymous Particularity. Only at one point in human history does God come among us to do the necessary deed of reconciliation. Jesus is the "absolute savior" not a relative one, the singular incarnate Word, reconciler of God and the world. However, this particularity has a universal scope. The power from the Christological center of history radiates everywhere in incognito fashion, giving all humans and their diverse religious traditions a sense, to one degree or another, of the divine purposes, the option of responding aright and the offer of grace to do so. With that right response, they become "anonymous Christians." While so granting the universal possibilities of both revelation and redemption, only in the privileged church of Christians is there the clear knowledge of the divine and assurance of the path to salvation

View 7: Revelatory Particularity. God comes to reconcile the alienated world in only one way, and gives ultimate truth only in one place, in Jesus Christ. This divine deed is so radical that all human beings are reconciled to God in this central Event, dying with Christ in his humiliation and rising with him in his exaltation. The church is uniquely given the revelation of this truth, and called to get the message out to the human race of "virtual believers" so reconciled. Are all then finally redeemed by the reconciling way of God in Christ? We have a right to hope that is so based on the deed done, but not to assert a universal homecoming as an article of faith. Only the sovereign God decides the final outcome.

View 8: Pluralist Particularity. Christ is the defining particular way that God makes into the world, giving a unique truth and special saving life. Yet the generosity of God provides in different religions other ways, truths and aspects of ultimate life ("religious fulfillments" in conformity with their desires). Christians believe that the one to which they testify is the supreme deed, disclosure and deliverance of the triune God, inclusive of the partial goals of other religions, and seek to witness that superiority to all.

View 9: Imperial Particularity. Christ is the particular way God came into the world to bring the only truth and only saving life to be had. The elect and/or those who decide for Christ during their time on earth, know the truth and are saved. Those passed over and/or do not decide for Christ perish eternally. Christians are charged to preach the gospel so that those called may respond in saving faith.

View 10: Narrative Particularity.2? A narrative is "an account of characters and events in a plot moving over time and space through conflict toward resolution." The defining deed, disclosure and deliverance take place in the central chapter of a Grand Narrative that runs from creation to consummation. But as the Story of God, the chapters that lead up to and away from the Center play their role in the plot of reconciliation, revelation and redemption…." (Fackre, 2003)

There is an unresolved conflict between liberalism and Christianity and particularly as related to the pluralist view of God and his work on earth. Aquinas vision of reality "a true pluralism of philosophies and theologies was endorsed and affirmed…" however, both the council and subsequent ecclesiastical documents are stated to endorse only "a pluralism which can sustain an understanding of revelation which includes Christianity's historical identity and universal normativity " (McMahon, 2009

It is stated that the postliberal or 'cultural-linguistic' model views religion as "self-enclosed language games in which doctrines operate as grammatical rules." (Marmion, 2005

) the view of postliberalism is one in which the text of the Bible absorbs the world instead of the world absorbing the text." (Marmion, 2005

) Marmion states: "This contrast model of Church, with its attendant understandings of doctrine, biblical narratives and tradition stands over and against an approach that argues for a mutual correlation between theology and human experience. With its rather pessimistic reading of postmodern culture, and its inward-looking model of Church, the postliberal vision runs the risk of ghettoising the Church and rendering theology as a public discourse practically impossible. Segregation is not the answer. Unless the Church is more than an aloof contrast-society, it risks failing to contribute positively to the world in which it forms a part." (Marmion, 2005

It is stated that the acknowledgement of the importance of experience both personal and social in religious experience "has become increasingly accepted as one appropriate starting-point and referent for both theology and spirituality. Theologians have come to recognise that religious experience cannot be dismissed as "cognitively empty" as happened during the Enlightenment. Theological assertions are then regarded as derivative, and as "the expressions of spirituality. Rahner…[continue]

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