Towards an Inter-religious Christology

Is it possible to do an interreligious Christology? There are many and varied contexts of Christology in the Bible itself. Faced with a experience of religious plurality what could be Christology ? How are we to speak of Jesus today? Can we profess our faith in Jesus inter-religiously ? What does Dominus Iesus of the committee on the doctrine of faith say about Christology? Dominus Iesus teaches that only Christians have ‘ theological faith’ and others have ‘ belief’ and although the members of other religions can receive grace, they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who are in the Church, who have fullness of the means of salvation. This issue brings us to the theology of religions. Dominus Iesus is almost taken as a litmus test for orthodoxy. Jesus is not simply number Uno , the best saviour. He is the only Saviour for the whole humankind. This indicates that Jesus Christ saves all humans even those who lived before He came to the earth. Both the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus are truths of faith and not empirically provable facts.

Perhaps, we have to consider Christology of the Logos in order to open ourselves to doing an inter-religious Christology. We can distinguish the Word of God before his incarnation in/as Jesus of Nazareth and the Word of God after his incarnation in/as Jesus of Nazareth. The unincarnated Word of God ( Logos asarkikos ) was actively present in history outside and without Jesus of Nazareth and was not restricted by place and time. By contrast the Word of God incarnated in/as Jesus of Nazareth (Logos Sarkikos) was limited by place (Palestine ) and time ( some thirty three years of life span). But Jesus of Nazareth has salvific universality and saves everyone who lived before He was incarnated as well as those who coeval with him and those that came after him. When we say He saves those that predated Him. We are speaking of salvation by retrospection. It retrospectively applies the merits of Jesus Christ to everyone who lived before him even though they did not directly knew him. This is where unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ takes us as regards to peoples that lived before the incarnated Word of God became one like us. We do affirm this when we profess that after death Jesus descended into hell, the abode of the dead. He then saved all the dead who accepted him. Thus, Jesus is also the saviour of all humans that predated Him.

Now since Jesus Christ is identical with the eternal Word of God who is beyond space and time and that Jesus post-resurrection transcends space and time, we may be enabled to do an inter-religious Christology. It has already been done by Raimundo Panikkar, in his Book, the Unknown Christ of Hinduism , where he also identifies Christ with unincarnated Word of God and Jesus of Nazareth as the incarnated Word of God, the Christ. This is why not just Unknown Christ but the Unbound Christ can become the basis of inter-religious Christology. The unbound Christ is the Christ of the Church who is beyond space and time and works in the hearts of people of other faiths without they fully knowing how He is drawing them to Him and the Church. It is the Unique and Universal Christ that saves both Christians and people of other faiths who are moved by him. Therefore, we may have to discern the inter-religious face of our risen Lord at work in the power of his Spirit in the lives of people of other faith. This is why inter-religious Christology is indeed a possibility. Already such a Christology has been developed in the works of theologians like Michael Amladoss, Aloysious Pieris etc. This means we can still do inter-religious Christology without compromising uniqueness, universality and exclusivity of Jesus Christ.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao