Amos Young received his Ph.D. from Boston University and was a professor at Regent University and is currently the Director for Missiological Research and Professor of theology and mission in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Clifton Clarke, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham (U.K.), with extensive missions experience and is the Executive Director of the Center for Global Missions at Regent University. Both of these men were the editors for the book Global Renewal, Religious Pluralism and the Great Commission(Emeth Press, 2011). This paper will briefly address this book with emphasis on chapter 2 which the author of this paper found intriguing.
This book “arose out of the idea to host a colloquium on the theme, which was instigated by Clifton Clarke joining Amos Yong and the Regent University School of Divinity,” (9). Renewal Christianity is ever expanding in the global South, and, “the tensions are exacerbated precisely because renewal Christians-coming from Pentecostal, charismatic and related movements-are uncompromisingly evangelistic and missionary in their self-understanding and practices, because, by and large, they have neglected reflecting theologically on the fact of religious plurality,” (11). Addressing religious pluralism and dialoguing with other groups and faiths is paramount, according to this book.
Chapter 2, written by Tony Richie, discusses some examples of religious inclusion. The author of said chapter adheres to the, “non-negotiable centrality of Jesus Christ for Christian theology, indisputably distinguishing it from all other religions and their respective centers of reference,” 43-44). He proposes, “a gracious and glorious width in the Spirit’s revelatory and redemptive reach, arising out of God’s incomparable wisdom and righteousness in Christ(Rom. 11:33-36). Simply put, my goal is uncompromisingly Christian, charismatic and inclusive,” (44).
Richie’s definition of inclusive is, “optimistic in Christ. It affirms that salvation is only of and by Christ even as it allows for the possibility that the un-evangelized or adherents of other faiths may mysteriously experience the magnanimous grace and mercy of God,” (47-48). I personally found this topic interesting as he discussed how Pentecostals are normally exclusivists, yet he elaborates saying, “Inclusivism is committed to articulating and acting upon the principle that God is not limited to humanity’s efforts,” (50).
I think Richie is correct here, because one should never limit God and think that only through evangelistic efforts one may come to Christ, when the Spirit of God has been documented by missionaries to have supernaturally revealed Christ to remote people groups who, when the missionaries arrived, would respond willingly to the gospel because they may have had a dream or visitation of Jesus. However, I would not state that a Buddhist could receive a supernatural revelation of Jesus, be saved and then stay within the confines of his religion and practices, assimilating Jesus. If a supernatural revelation occurs, then the Spirit draws them away from their previous religion and leads them to Christian practice.
I appreciated how Richie discussed the different between inclusivism and universalism, and how the Renewal movement should dialogue with other faiths yet not disregard their evangelistic fervor. He stated, “Renewal Christian mission should continue to emphasize evangelism and proclamation seeking to understand and implement mutual dialogue and cooperation as inherent within Christ’s calling and command to His disciples throughout the world in all its cultures,” (60).
I found this book to be intriguing and a great addition to my understanding of interacting with other faiths. I learned a great deal on how the Renewal movement is dialoguing and fleshing out its knowledge of other faiths and groups around the world. This is my first interaction with the ecumenical movement as the organization that oversaw my Bible college had little to no contact with the ecumenical movement, and the seminary I recently graduated from were strict exclusivists who looked on any movement dialoguing with ecumenicalism were suspect.
I would recommend this book for further discussion and lectures within class, especially the idea of inclusivism as at times it may seem the lines are blurred with universalism. But reaching Richie’s definition puts it into some perspective, but I would like to see his thoughts elaborated with more precise instructions on how to continue dialogue and evangelism with other faiths knowing that the reach and depth of the Holy Spirit is wider than expected.
This paper was submitted to the Regent University School of Divinity for Global Theology of Mission course with Miguel Alvarez, Ph.D., summer 2016)