For Their Rock Is Not As Our Rock: The Gospel As The “Subversive Fulfillment’ Of The Religious Other -- By: Daniel Strange

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 56:2 (Jun 2013)
Article: For Their Rock Is Not As Our Rock: The Gospel As The “Subversive Fulfillment’ Of The Religious Other
Author: Daniel Strange

For Their Rock Is Not As Our Rock: The Gospel As The “Subversive Fulfillment’ Of The Religious Other

Daniel Strange*

* Daniel Strange is tutor in culture, religion, and public theology at Oak Hill Theological College, Chase Side, Southgate, London N14 4PS.

I. Introduction

From the perspective of fides quaerens intellectum, what are non-Christian religions?1 This seemingly crude and almost child-like inquisition encapsulates a, and perhaps the, major preoccupation of the “theology of religions.” Evangelical scholarship in the last twenty-five years has largely focused on all matters soteriological, debates to which I myself have contributed.2 While such work has been vitally necessary, an unintended consequence has been that positive theological construction has been stymied: we may be clear on what other religions are not, but we are still unclear as to what exactly they are. Out of what are they fashioned?

In the recently published Only One Way? Three Christian Responses to the Uniqueness of Christ in a Pluralistic World,3 I enter into a critical ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic Gavin D’Costa and the pluralist Paul Knitter, outlining and defending an evangelical and Reformed theology of religions from within my own multicultural British context. Drawing from that work, but now for an intra-evangelical context, this paper seeks to further unpack my definition of non-Christian religions as:

sovereignly directed, variegated and dynamic human idolatrous distortions of divine revelation behind which evidence demonic deception. Being antithetically against yet parasitically dependent upon the truth of the Christian worldview, non-Christian religions are “subversively fulfilled” in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Such a definition does not claim to be original but is no more than a particular instantiation of the complex anthropological mix that is homo adorans which historically Reformed theology has attempted to articulate and which seeks to do justice to the Bible’s “canonically limited polyphony”4 regarding the religious Other. This pre-prepared tradition-specific “ingredient” is perhaps best contained, explained and resolved by recognizing humanities “religious” response and reinterpretation to God’s revelation of himself. The Bible describes this conceptually using the pervasive category of “idolatry.” The Reformed dynamic of a subjective

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