by Ida Glaser
“Is Christ the only way to salvation?” has been a most debated question among Christian scholars in the modern and postmodern era.
InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, Illinois 60515-1426, 2005, 255 pages, $18.00.
—Reviewed by Martin P. Alphonse, division of intercultural studies, Multnomah Bible College, Portland, Oregon.
“‘Give me a quick yes or no: Is Christ the only way to salvation?’ After a long pause I told the audience that I was only a professor at Harvard; I would leave the question of salvation up to God.” This was how Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion at Harvard University, introduced her discussion of religious pluralism in 1993.
“Is Christ the only way to salvation?” has been a most debated question among Christian scholars in the modern and postmodern era. Entering the debate, Glaser at one point responds to the question saying, “I simply do not think the New Testament gives us enough information to decide whether ‘Yes’ logic or ‘No’ logic is correct.” She further asks, “If Christ is the way of salvation, will God condemn people to hell if they follow a different religion?”
The book is a comprehensive exploration of the Bible to find the answer to this question. Part One discusses the hermeneutical approaches to the Bible for analyzing theological and philosophical issues pertaining to religious pluralism. Part Two discusses Old Testament themes that are central to the debate. Beginning with the time of Mesopotamian religions and continuing through the history of Israel, it ends with the period of the minor prophets. The major discussion is on God’s call to Israel to be a “blessing to the nations.” Part Three discusses challenges of pluralism as found in the New Testament. It describes God’s unique plan to bring “blessing to the nations” through the cross and the significance of Christians as the new Israel whose mission is to make Christ known to the nations. Part Four closes the debate with the final challenge: “We are called to accept him (Jesus Christ), to follow him and to live and speak his cross among all peoples, whether they are Jew or Gentile…We may think the assignment is too hard…But we will find, as he did, that there is no other way…(that) leads to salvation and resurrection.”
Glaser is a Jewish Christian who has a special passion to reach out to Muslims for Christ. Although Islam seems to be Glaser’s special interest of study and research, she also has insights into various other religions such as Hinduism. She presents stimulating illustrations from people of other faiths in relation to their experiences of God’s grace within the framework of their own religious beliefs and practices. Although such experiences of grace may be considered as evidences of the “wideness of God’s mercy” for people of other faiths, Glaser’s concluding argument points to the cross of Christ as the only way to salvation.
The book is scholarly yet written in a style which is easily readable by the laity. It can be used as a textbook for courses in theology, religion and mission in Bible colleges and seminaries, and it can be used for study in churches.
Check these titles:
Eck, Diana L. 1993. Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press.
Netland, Harold. 2001. Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith and Mission. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Shenk, David W. 1995. Global Gods: Exploring the Role of Religions in Modern Societies. Scottdale, Penn.: Herald Press.
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