December 2009 - Vol. 35

The Finality of Christ by Donald Bloesch, continued

Resurgent interest in the occult and Eastern religions
As in prewar Germany, there is currently in the nations of the West a resurgence of interest in the occult, a growing openness to Eastern religions, and the rise of a naturistic mysticism. Pluralism is celebrated as something good in its own right; the destructive or demonic side of religion is conveniently overlooked. An inclusivistic mentality regards with disdain any appeal to a particular revelation or any absolutist claim to religious truth.

Nevertheless, the god of pluralism and inclusivism can be a jealous god; whatever does not fit into a pluralistic or globalistic agenda is condemned as backward and provincial. Theological seminaries in the mainline churches today are remarkably open to including Buddhists and Hindus on their staff but are adamantly opposed to inviting scholars identified with either traditional Catholicism or the evangelical side of Protestantism.

Battle between catholic evangelicalism and neo-Gnosticism
The battle today is between the historical Christian faith with its confession of the reality of a supernatural God and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, and the new spirituality, which embraces most of the recent theological and religious movements. It is the difference between a biblical monotheism and a naturalistic panentheism, between a catholic evangelicalism on the one hand and neo-mysticism and neo-Gnosticism on the other. One side champions an inclusivistic or global vision; the other defends both the particularity of divine revelation and the universality of its claims and mission.

In its witness the Church should not press for a return to a monolithic society in which church and state work together to ensure a Christian civilization, for this can only draw the Church away from its redemptive message and blur the lines between Church and world. Neither should the Church withdraw from society and cultivate little bastions of righteousness that strive to preserve the ethical and religious values handed down from the past. Instead, the Church should witness to the truth of the gospel in the very midst of society in the hope and expectation that this truth will work as the leaven that turns society toward a higher degree of justice and freedom. The Church should serve the kingdom of righteousness by reminding the world that there is a transcendent order that stands in judgment over every worldly achievement and that the proper attitude of leaders of nations is one of humility before a holy God and caring concern for the disinherited and the oppressed.

The hope of humanity rests on the kingdom of God
The holy and living God of the Scriptures has acted decisively for the salvation of the human race through Jesus Christ. The hope of humanity rests on the kingdom of God, which is now at work in our midst and will be consummated through the coming again of Jesus Christ in power and glory. Then his universal Lordship will be revealed for all to see, and the fruits of his redemption will be assured to all who repent and believe.

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[This article was originally published in Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, Summer 1991. Touchstone is a monthly ecumenical journal which endeavors to promote doctrinal, moral, and devotional orthodoxy among Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox. Copyright © 2004 the Fellowship of St. James. Used with permission.].

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