Theologians like Clark Pinnock would say there’s a wideness in God’s mercy. All religions make exclusive truth claims. Is there relationship between them? Are all religions ultimately equal in helping man know the unknowable, finite man probe the depths of the infinite? Does God hear the prayers of non-Christians? The multicultural reality of this present age means we live in a world of religious diversity. It’s a pluralistic culture. The large white dome of a new mosque and Hindu temples with elephants carved in the doorway are quite literally just up the road. I have Sikh, Muslim, Hindu neighbours. We share a country where the world has grown smaller (through globalisation, the Internet) and is more dangerous than ever before.
Jurgen Moltmann talks of God’s goodness which cannot be limited by idols, temples, creeds, churches or even one’s own theology. Exclusivism can lead to arrogance and intolerance. Jesus said, “I have other sheep that do not belong to the fold” (John ch.10, v.16). Christianity is my religion, but there is a God who creates all people and in whom we live, move and have our being (Acts ch.17). There’s the Christian’s mandate to enter into respectful dialogue with other faiths, not to argue the superiority of our faith, but to share what we believe.
This does not mean Christians reject the exclusive claims of The Bible, or Jesus’ words in the Gospel, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. Know one can come to the Father except through me” (John ch.14, v.6). Many religions claim to know God. But Christianity allows believers to know God in a very special way, as Abba Father. That’s the exclusive claim I uphold. It’s so special and unique. There’s no doubt God’s grace is intended for the salvation of the world – for all humanity – but it can’t stand up to human unbelief. Atonement means reconciliation and the Good Lord wants to reconcile the world. He is doing it in ways beyond our ivory tower understanding.