I have read John Hick's God and the Universe of Faiths.
I have been thinking about what's in the book since I dabbled into theology, which I was never good at by the way, a couple of years back.
One of the things that I find difficult to wrap my head around about religion is the idea of exclusivity. Exclusivity is the claim that one's faith is the only true faith and all the other religions are false, that they need proselytizing and at it's worst enemies to be overcome or conquered.
Exclusivity is a mechanism used by a group of people, family or tribe or nation to preserve its cultural identity. This idea is associated with a local god or a tribal god. A good example of this are the Jews. By maintaining a unique relationship with their tribal god, they have fought off foreign influences. They formulated codes and laws that encompasses the whole aspect of their identity. And these laws are written by their god himself and this made their laws inseparable from their god.
With the destruction of Israel, the Jews were dispersed. They were scattered among the neighboring kingdoms but despite the dispersion, they have kept their identity. They have accomplished this through strict and rigid adherence to their laws and traditions. The Jews also forbade intermarriages. Adultery both religious and interracial marriages are dealt with harshly by banishment and even death. This preserved not only their culture and faith but it also assured the genetic conservation of the race.
Their identity is inseparable and indistinguishable from their god: their religion is their citizenship.
Then came Jesus. Jesus was a Jew, a Jewish heretic. He professed to be the messiah introduced a new and improved version of Judaism which the old school rejected. he was crucified by the Romans with the instigation of the Jews.
A few hundred years later, Paul discovered Jesus and became the missionary that spread Christianity. Christianity is basically a Judaic religion,hence the idea of exclusivity, though expanded to include non-Jews, is still at it's core. This exclusivity, like the Jews, assured its survival, But unlike the Jews, the laws and traditions, which was repudiated by the new testament, was too porous, hence pagan (which means non-Christian religions then) slowly seeped into the new religion hence many non-Christian doctrines were assimilated into it.
The reformation came.
The reformers broke away from the Roman Church which they deemed was corrupted by pagan and mystic philosophical thoughts. So, the Roman Catholic Church has stopped to be the only vehicle towards salvation. She is not the bride anymore.
The church split and with each split came the idea of exclusivity, with each schism and division, exclusivity becomes narrower and narrower that even among denominations there those who consider their brethren church not pure enough to be included among the elect.
Of course, in the book, John Hicks' discussed the relationships of Christianity with other world religions but it need not go far because within the Christian faith exclusivity is claimed by each denominations, though evangelicalism is a movement that seemed to be moving towards inclusion but in general it still a strict exclusivist because of their doctrine that only Jesus saves.
Exclusivity promotes the idea that the religion or the church one belongs to or born into is the only real church or religion and this ecclesiocentricism denies the truths or only recognizes partial truths from other religions and treats them as inferior, even enemies. This is analogous to Ptolemy's idea that the earth was the center of the universe. The church becomes the earth in Ptolemaic universe and other faiths or denominations are revolving around that specific church.
The Ptolemaic view of religion, according to John Hicks must give way to the Copernican revolution. Instead of a religion or a church being at the center of the religious universe, it should be theocentric, God should be placed at the center where religions revolves around it.
This solves the a lot of problem from revelation to salvation.
Anyway, I'm tired. Read the book or wait till I get into the mood and talk about Hick' ideas.
This post sucks.