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Document Details :

Title: The Notion of Salvation in Contemporary Religious Dialectics
Subtitle: Intra Ecclesiam Salus?
Author(s): DICKINSON, Colby , FRIDAY, John
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 37    Issue: 2-3   Date: 2013   
Pages: 253-272
DOI: 10.2143/LS.37.2.3038714

Abstract :
Even before Hegel, theology has had to face the true dialectical question: is Christianity the true religion that all other religions aspire to be? Do we perceive other religions (i.e. Judaism) as an earlier stage in the fulfillment of Christian revelation, and Christianity, therefore, as the ultimate synthesis or summit of human religious expression? Or, are all religions to be regarded on a plane of equivalence such that they are equally valid? In specific reference to the Christian tradition, what criteria are available to us, as Christians, to discern such a measure of religious perfection? Salvation, it can be said, points forward, toward a state of perfection not yet achieved, and, in this sense, cannot exist outside the Church because it would be (from the Christian viewpoint) a step backwards, a step away from the summit of what is possible for human religious experience. One of the major insights of the past century, however, is that progress, as a historical and political concept, was an all-pervasive, yet perhaps fatally flawed idea, something which only fueled racist and genocidal policies to greater, tragic depths. Discerning the difference, then, between the dialectics of history and politics from the dialectics of religious being is no easy task, for the two have been consistently intermingled from the earliest origins of religious and political practice. Yet what are we to do with the notion that progress, in historical terms, is not always a productive model upon which to base our religious configurations? By seeing things thus, we must begin to ask new questions, such as: what multiple understandings of progress are we working with today? What exactly does a religious dialectics seek to achieve as its end (or ultimate) goal? In religious terms, what would constitute a backwards step or decline of spiritual perfection/harmony? Moreover, what is the role of violence in discerning these distinctions? And what is the role of love?

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