How to face religious debate? We must close in doctrinal definitions and declare that all inter-religious dialogue leads to syncretism and dissolves our beliefs and faith? Is dialogue possible, recognizing differences and keeping each religious identity? To think about these issues, we make a new reading text of José Maria da Silva. The identity of religions in the world, provided an analysis looking localized [Journal of Religious Studies, 2001, no. 4, pp..14-26].
But first let's see some methodological assumptions that can help us guide the study the issue of religious identity versus challenge of interreligious dialogue.
The science and linguistics in particular works with concept of paradigm. A paradigm is a model, a pattern, a prototype. It is a set of units capable of research based on past scientific achievements, which appear in same context and are switchable and mutually exclusive. In paradigm, the units have at least one trait in common - form, value, or both - that relationship, enabling joint open or closed, depending on nature of the units. In first case, when these units are formal, we have a paradigm that enables translation of reality and in second case, when units of value, we have a paradigm that systematizes knowledge.
But there is another important fact: in every age, there dominant paradigms, ie those from which research takes place, committed to certain rules and standards.
But, no paradigm is eternal. It can be broken. In this sense, paradigm is broken when a vision that transforms understanding of reality, gives it new shape and size, a rereading of determining truth.
According to Thomas Kuhn [ The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , California, Perspective, 1976, p. 38], " to be accepted as a paradigm, a theory must seem better than its competitors, but it need not (and in fact it never does) explain all the facts with which they can be confronted ". The paradigm shift ultimately means changing scientific imagination and not one given to a structure of ideas longer existing.
In field of Christian religion are generally considered three paradigms: (1) exclusivism ecclesiocentric or Romam Catholic vision, (2) inclusivism or Christocentric vision, (3) pluralism or theocentric vision.
Roman Catholicism is an axiom, formatted by Origen, Cyprian and Augustine - "Extra eclesiam nulla salus " - and taken up by Council of Florence (1442), which characterizes this ecclesiocentric exclusivism. By saying, "outside the church no salvation", Roman Catholicism is affirming Catholic faith is private, restricted and incompatible with any other faith, even Christian. And this is so by divine law given to this church, as it has no competition in any other religious expression.
Protestant Christian in field, this spirit or exclusion system is translated into idea that "outside of Christianity there is no salvation", as John Hick states [The metaphor of God incarnate , Petrópolis, Voices, 2000, p. 13-14].
Generally, the exclusivism ecclesiocentric, whether Catholic or Protestant, part of a tautological interpretation of revelation, which is based on mythic literalism. But if from there, also leads to demonization of difference, which always appears as heresy or doctrine without foundation and that, therefore, does not deserve credit or attention. So what is different is always reviled, accursed, anathema.
The paradigm that arises at other extreme is theocentric pluralism, that part of Copernican revolution, according to which reality is not an organic whole, but is composed of plurality of independent entities, whether material or spiritual. That is, like planets revolve around sun, all religious expressions are directed to God.
This paradigm dissolves religious identity, denying quality of what is particular to all religious expression, what makes it identical to itself. By diluting and even deny themselves this set of characters to certain religion, leads conclusion that all are equal, or serve same functions as all revolve around God.
But to rely on Copernican revolution, theocentric pluralism brings field of religion is a problem that does not exist in other scientific fields. Here, claim that all religions are equal can not be detected by examination of facts. Or rather, only possible solution would be to analyze faith in each one. But even this solution would not be as empirical as it seems, because religious faith, it is exclusive, it is only accepted by those who share it.
The option, as proposed by theologians such as Hick's eschatological verification, because "until the last corner is not folded, nothing will be known definitively", as José Maria da Silva adds [ Identity of the world religions, from an analysis eyes located , article cited, p. 18]. That is, as whether basic paradigm of pluralism proceeds, ie, that all religions are equal, we have to wait until end of the world.
But there is a third way, different from paradigm of exclusivism ecclesiocentric and different from paradigm of theocentric pluralism. It is Christocentric inclusivism, which sees religion as a natural fact of revelation, that is, salvific universality of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. In this sense, all of them are in axiom presented by Paul in Romans 2:14-15: "The non-Jews have the law. But when they do so on their own accord what the law commands, they are a law unto itself, although not the law. They show, for their ways, they have law written in their hearts. The very awareness of them shows that this is true, and his thoughts, which sometimes accuse and sometimes argue, also show that".
In this sense, when we speak of Christocentric inclusivism, we are talking about scope and involvement of salvation in times of human life in particular and in life of humanity. This is because salvation has a past tense, as Paul says in II Timothy 1:8-9: "God saved us and called us to be his people. It was not because of what we have done, but because this was his plan and because of his grace. He gave us this grace through Christ Jesus before world began".
Thus, sins of human beings who felt pain and were aware of their misery, or who have repented, been forgiven through sacrifice of cross, as Paul explains: "God gave Christ as a sacrifice so that by his death in cross, Christ became means for people to receive forgiveness of their sins through faith in him. God wanted to show by this that he is righteous. In the past He was patient and did not punish people for their sins, but now, by sacrifice of Christ, shows that God is just. So it is fair and accepts those who believe in Jesus".
But grace of cross covers those who have repented in past tense to cross, while forgiveness law [Rom 5:9, Eph 1.7], also occurs in present time [James 1:21, I Peter 1.9], while present tense of freedom [Luke + 9:23, Rom 5:10, Gal 5. 16, 25] and at a later time [Romans 13:11], while time of glorification [Philippians 3:20-21, Galatians 1.4, I Peter 1.5, 3:20-21].
Theologians of Christian religious spectrum in the Mackenzie U.
Thus, different paradigms of exclusivism ecclesiocentric and pluralism theocentric, paradigm of Christocentric inclusivism enables inter-religious dialogue without diluting our identity Christian, Protestant, evangelical. Do not isolate ourselves, or we curse those who are different. Instead, knowing difference allows dialogue and confirms our identity.
Paradigm of Christocentric inclusivism differs from pluralism theocentric is also and not say that all religions are equal and even says that fulfill same function saving. Do not dilute our faith in a tangle of beliefs, but from the maintenance of our identity, we see that the expression of revelation and saving factor of cross of Christ as redemptive project took place outside of time and space, in eternity, and, this enables all human beings and humanity a meeting with the Creator.
Well, every new paradigm involves scientific imagination. It's always a new path to new discoveries. You answer to challenge of postmodernism. We run all day on difference.How we live and interact with these differences? Perhaps the paradigm of Christocentric inclusivism help us.