Religious Pluralism in the Bible and the Pastoral Challenges of Credal Walls In Nigeria: An Application of Acts 10:27-28.34
Keywords:Religion, Pluralism, Bible, Exclusion, Tolerance, Salvation
Prior to the advent of what Chinua Achebe calls ‘the white man’s religion’, “igwebuike” was the case. “Ujamaa” was the spirit. There were of course tribal and ethnic issues but not to the level of not seeing each other as brother or sister. In the last Synod of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, the Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. D. Isizoh lamented that Africa inherited a divided Christianity. The divide in Christendom is undoubtable as is evidenced in destructive criticisms, attacks, anathemas and new teachings we bring against each other. Beyond Christianity, the story is even worse. The experience often ends in gory stories. It is all about join me or face war. One wonders whether religion is actually what it ought to be. If religion happens to be an agent of division and intolerance, is it necessary for man to still remain religious? Perhaps, the Quran and the Bible share blames in the intolerance because of the ambiguities in their teachings implying incompatibility of different religious beliefs. John 3,17 teaches that Christ is sent for the salvation of the whole world. Yet Acts 4,12 holds that salvation is only in his name. John 14,6 posits Christ as the only way to the Father. Writing to the Ephesians, Paul told them that without Christ they were without hope and without God. At first face therefore, religious pluralism seems at odds with biblical teaching. This paper using exegetical lens captures the possibility of religious pluralism in the bible. The author sees religious intolerance as one of the greatest problems facing Nigeria and the world at large. It follows the thoughts of Fathers of the Vatican II to conclude that biblical teaching about salvation through Christ is not in exclusivity but in inclusivity. It posits tolerance and openness as the solutions to religious intolerance of each other and the consequent gory stories.
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