"You know I got to thinking about some things regarding our past dialogue, and I have a question for you. Your spiritual autobiography chronicled your experiences with various denominations, but really didn't explain your concluding that the Gospel of Jesus wasn't the only way to the Living God. Actually, I really never heard you pin point why you are in opposition to authentic salvation (or the exclusivist's position as you say.) And, I already know that you think it's really anti-intellectual to be so narrow and all, but what I'm interested in is you identifying what the root issue is, kwim? I've just sensed we haven't honestly touched on it. Please receive me in kindness. I often find it difficult to "talk softly" through email. Have a great day. -K"
First of all, no, I am totally for 'authentic salvation' -is there any other salvation/ healing/ liberation than real/ authentic salvation? My concern, in fact, is that much of what I've seen in modern western churchianity is inauthentic --fear based, self-centered, arrogant, self-righteous, you name it. Yet, the good, real and authentic is there too, no doubt.
Secondly, no, I don't think that excluvism is always anti-intellectual. There are some pluralists who are very un-intellectual and even 'exclusivistic' about their beliefs. And there are some people who have v. exclusivistic beliefs about faith in Christ who are quite intellectual.
If your core question to me is:
"Have you concluded that verbally confessing and believing in your heart (before one dies) that Jesus Christ is Lord God, third person of the trinity, whose substitutionary sacrifice to God on the cross is not the only way to attain acceptance from God and everlasting life after death(salvation)?"
Then yes, I don't currently believe that is true.
To what degree Jesus is literally "Lord over all," or is ontologically God, or is central to the whole process of salvation --I don't know. I am agnostic as of now and not concerned about that too much, Jesus seemed to want us to focus on God (i.e when he tells his discples they can now go to God directly, etc)
I can tell you that he is the one whose life, teaching, and example I have chosen to follow as most central to my life. I know that he is the one who has most fully and clearly demonstrated God's core nature --"God is love" --the self-sacrificial love that forgives 7*70, that loves enemies, that turns the other cheek, and that is compassionately selfless. ANd perhaps he is the who patiently, lovingly, humbly bears with all my struggles and weaknesses and questions --perhaps he is the most 'human' face of God, and that one day I'll see that face and see it as the same as God's.
Otherwise, I believe that whenever anyone is following God's Spirit, hearing the truth, loving others --they are walking in Christ's way, acting in his name. Sometimes, perhaps most times (do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing) they don't even realize they are doing it to/for God (think of the parable of sheep/goats). Jesus seemed to be primarily concerned about right action and loving (Whoever is not against me is for me. Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me. Whoever loves is a child of God., etc). Rarely, if ever, did he get upset about right belief, calling people heretics. His anger, when it came out, was against those who were self-righteous and hypocritical and who used their religious power in the wrong ways. Thats why I'm concerned about the modern church.
Does that answer your question at all?
Thanks K--and ask away at anytime.
In Christ's love,