A Theologian Looks At The Gospel And World Religions -- By: James A. Borland

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 33:1 (Mar 1990)
Article: A Theologian Looks At The Gospel And World Religions
Author: James A. Borland

A Theologian Looks At The Gospel
And World Religions

James A. Borland*

When we exercise our bodies, we stretch our muscles. When we ponder the imponderables, we stretch our minds. When we consider the gospel and world religions, we stretch our hearts and our minds. But when finite mind contemplates infinite Being and when timebound creatures confront a timeless Creator, we grope for truths we can scarcely understand. In a world so religiously diverse in which every wind of doctrine floats past we look for something solid, a truth about which we can be sure, indeed a revelation from God himself.

But so many religious systems vie for our trust. Can we sort out truth from error? Is it possible to differentiate among human claims, religious lore, and what might be absolute truth? If so, how would one go about the task?

I intend initially to ask some questions of four world religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. To be sure, these may be informed questions, but hopefully they express the common longings of the human heart. Next I want to clarify some of the issues from a theologian’s point of view—to explore the theological categories that are traversed when considering the gospel and to contrast the views of our world’s major religions. Finally, I desire to raise the issue of the necessity of the gospel and whether adherents of world religions other than Christianity must actually hear and believe the gospel to have any hope of salvation.

I. Questions For All World Religions To Answer

Here is a series of questions that I would like to pose for our major world religions: Where do I stand right now? If I continue as I am—that is, without your religion—will I suffer horrible consequences either now or in the future? Is it imperative that I accept your message or way of life? Do you have what might be termed a “gospel” or “good news”? If so, what is your good news? Are you concerned that I learn about your “gospel”? Is it my responsibility to seek out your good news, or are you

* James Borland, professor of New Testament and theology at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia, delivered this presidential address at the 41st annual meeting of ETS on November 16, 1989.

obligated to spread your faith to me? Can I accept your beliefs voluntarily, or do you force some to become adherents? If I am an infant, can I be made a member of your religion apart from an exercise of my own free will? If I am a woman, will I be able to attain the same spiritual standing before God as a man, both in this life and in the life to come—if there is a future life? What if I am of a different ra...

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