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Shea in Fides et Historia. Undetected country. NO YES. Science and Religion: An Impossible Dialogue. Selected type: Paperback. What is it the Bible teaches us? What is it the New Testament teaches us? As to the book called the Bible, it is blasphemy to call it the Word of God. It is a book of lies and contradictions, and a history of bad times and bad men.

There are but a few good characters in the whole book. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. Persecution is not an original feature in any religion, but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity.

Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.

The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. It has been the most destructive to the peace of man since man began to exist. Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses, who gave an order to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers and then rape the daughters. One of the most horrible atrocities found in the literature of any nation.

I would not dishonor my Creator's name by attaching it to this filthy book. My country is the world, and my religion is to do good. Whence arose all the horrid assassinations of whole nations of men, women, and infants, with which the Bible is filled; and the bloody persecutions, and tortures unto death, and religious wars, that since that time have laid Europe in blood and ashes; whence arose they, but from this impious thing called religion, and this monstrous belief that God has spoken to man?

The story of the redemption will not stand examination. That man should redeem himself from the sin of eating an apple by committing a murder on Jesus Christ, is the strangest system of religion ever set up. Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity.

Continue Reading. Learn Religions uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By using Learn Religions, you accept our. Due to the fact that the information used by Kritzinger et al. However, one is faced with a predicament when trying to gain knowledge about South Africa's current religious statistics. In the latest South African census no inquiries were made involving religious views. When further investigation is done about the reason why the question of religion was no longer inquired about in the census done in , Statistics South Africa provides the answer by saying that:.

In , Stats SA embarked on a series of user consultations, to get advice as to what questions should be asked in the questionnaire. The question on religion was low on the list of priorities as informed by the users of census data, and it therefore did not make it onto the final list of data items. We can assume that because the Constitution of South Africa permits all people living in South Africa the freedom to choose their own religious views, the users of the census data viewed questions concerning religion as irrelevant.


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As there are no new statistics on the religious make-up of South Africa, one is forced to use the statistics gathered by the census done in This chapter consists of four sections. Firstly, the problem on which this study will focus is described as well as the parameters of the study: This being the South African context.

Secondly, a focus on the theoria, which is the theology of religions, will follow. The different models for the variety of approaches found in the theology of religions pertaining to the existence of many different religions will be discussed. Paul Knitter's book on the theology of religions Introducing Theologies of Religions, will be the main source used, as he gives a detailed account of the different approaches towards the existence of various religions.

The third section will focus on the South African context. The situation of the context will be sketched by using census data as well as information that has been gathered by conducting interviews and discussions with respondents. In the last section the focus will be on the benefits of dialogue, and Knitter's approach to dialogue will be discussed as a possible approach for interreligious dialogue in South Africa and Tutu's views on ubuntu will be examined to determine how dialogue may serve the interests of South Africans.

The theology of religions. In this section the focus will be on defining the concept of theology of religions and the models that have been formulated by this theology, so as to explain the different ways Christianity has reacted towards other religions. Various definitions of the theology of religions will be provided and compared with one another. Knitter's use of four main models concerning the theology of religions will be examined and brought into conversation with other views on how Christianity has reacted when faced with the reality of a multireligious world.

Practical examples of these models will be provided and the dialogues will be categorised according to these models. What is the theology of religions? This field of study is occupied with questions pertaining to the existence of multiple religions. These questions lead to many other questions that must be considered. Barnes refers to these questions as:. Open-ended questions of the possibility of God in the world of many faiths Are all these religions valid? How does one decide upon only one religion? Do all the different religions relate to one another or is the content of these religions conflicting?

Gorski adds to these questions: Does God act within other religions? Can these religions lead to salvation, and are non-Christian religions true religions? The attempt of Christian theologians to answer these questions and others that arise subsequently constitutes this discipline, the theology of religions Knitter ; cf. Gorski This area of theology requires theologians to study Christian Scripture and traditions as well as the work of historians and 'comparative religionists' Knitter They will then have to view this knowledge in relation to the fundamental texts of other religions as well as conversing with the followers of other religions in order to understand them more adequately see Hedges Hedges says that in its basic form theology of religions:.

He refers to the theology of religions as being a subbranch of the larger discipline of Christian systematic theology, 'which deals with the superstructure of Christian faith in terms of doctrine and belief' Hedges The existence of other religions in relation to Christianity forms a part of systematic theology. There are various theological positions on the relation of Christianity to other religions. Knitter refers to these major theological positions as 'models' and identifies four of the predominant models as: The replacement model, the fulfilment model, the mutuality model and the acceptance model.

Every model is in some way based on or in accordance with the views of a theologian who influenced the conception of the specific model. Each of these models, as well as the views of the theologians who are influential on these theologies, will be discussed subsequently. Relevant contributions will also be discussed. The major theological views on the relation of Christianity to other religions These theological views are expressed as models, which makes the theoria of the theology of religions more substantial.

The replacement model. In the problem statement an exclusivist view or exclusivism was referred to. This model is just that. Hedges puts it plainly that, 'exclusivisms are the range of beliefs that say only Christianity leads to salvation and that, generally, anyone who adheres to a different religion must therefore be going to damnation. Knitter further explains what this concept of exclusivism or replacement means, by saying 'Christianity is meant to replace all other religions.

This is the first of the Christian attitudes toward other faiths. This model is based on the conviction that there is but one God and that it is the will of this one God that all people belong to only one religion, this religion being Christianity. It is not necessarily true that this model supposes that all other religions are of no value.

However, if these religions are in some way of value it is merely of transitional or conditional value. This means that other religions are only truly useful if they lead the religious person to Christianity Knitter What does this the mean for the salvation of humankind? Knitter explains the model's stance on salvation as follows, 'God's love is universal, extending to all; but that love is realized through the particular and singular community ofJesus Christ.

Knitter says that the replacement model suggests that:. This model might seem outdated, but Knitter stated in the mids that it was alive and well, and repeats this statement in a later publication in In both publications he places this model first on his list of Christian theologies of religion, as he believes that this model should not be underestimated because it is the predominant attitude amongst Christians when assessing the value of other religions.

This model can be separated into two different positions: The concepts of total replacement and of partial replacement. The approach of the total replacement model is based on the conviction that all other religions are completely lacking, aberrant and unwonted and that Christianity will inevitably have to take the place of all other religions Knitter This model has historically been the predominant view of mainstream Christian churches Knitter The theologian who has been most influential with regard to this model is the Protestant Karl Barth According to Knitter Barth laid the theological foundations for the replacement model's understanding of other religions.

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Karl Barth's theology was not necessarily aimed at being a theology of religions, however, his view on religion in general is the main focus of this model. Barth formulated his theology in a changing context where Christianity had to adapt to the humanism which came with the Enlightenment of the s and s. In reaction to the liberalism brought forth by the Enlightenment, Karl Barth set out to find a way to relate the message of Christ with the changing times.

In his writings he came to the conclusion, which he believed to be the message of the Gospel, that 'human beings cannot get their act together by themselves. But with God, they can. Yet, for this to happen, humans have to step back and let God be God' Knitter For Barth the four solas 27 embodied the good news of the New Testament.

The first sola, sola gratia, states that humankind cannot save itself; human beings are burdened by sin and their fallen nature and cannot be freed of these things by themselves ourselves. It is therefore grace alone which ensures that sinners can be freed. The second sola states that humankind is saved by faith alone, sola fide. Humans can be saved, but this salvation is not due to the good deeds or any work that has been done.

This means that trust is extremely important Knitter :. Thus, the need for the third 'alone'. The third sola, sola Christo, states that it is in Christ alone, that God has granted salvation. It is through Christ that humankind is reconciled with God. This sola has serious implications for religions that do not acknowledge the existence of Christ as the Son of God. The last sola, sola scriptura, states that it is through the Bible that the reality ofJesus and this salvation he grants becomes clear to humankind Knitter Barth , makes the following statement about religion, based on the Bible and his belief in the solas:.

Religion is disbelief. It is a concern, indeed, we must say that it is the one great concern, of godless man. From the standpoint of revelation religion is clearly seen to be a human attempt to anticipate what God in His revelation wills to do and does do. It is the attempted replacement of the divine work by a human manufacture. The divine reality offered and manifested to us in revelation is replaced by a concept of God arbitrarily and wilfully evolved by man.

Barth portrays humankind to be, because of religion, exactly what it should not be. Humanity does not stand back and allow God to be God, but creates rituals, laws and beliefs of their own, instead of merely trusting God Knitter This is Barth's way of saying that religion is man-made and not the product of divine work. Religious people are not saved by their religions, beliefs or works of faith, but by the grace of God. Therefore, all religions are inadequate, not only non-Christian faiths, but Christianity too.

Knitter states that not only other religions are harshly judged by Barth, 'he levelled [his criticism] not only at "other" religions but also, and especially, at Christianity.

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One then wonders if there is any true religion. According to Barth there is. Even though Barth placed all religions in the same category of active idolatry, he states that Christianity is the true religion Knitter :. Christianity is the true religion because it's the only religion that knows it is a false religion; and it knows, further, that despite its being a false and idolatrous religion, it is saved through Jesus Christ. Barth's view of Christianity being the only true religion places Christ at the centre of the argument. Christianity then has no need to partake in dialogue with any other religion; these religions have no saving grace, they have no Jesus and therefore there is no need for dialogue.

There can be no relationship between Christianity and other religions. Barth states this clearly by saying 'we have here an exclusive contradiction. It is important to note that Karl Barth's theology is not the only foundation for the total replacement model. Something that must be factored in is that the New Testament plays an essential role in this model. Knitter states that it is because Barth's theology of religions is 'normed by the biblical witness', that it has such an impact on this specific view of religions. The Bible and specifically the New Testament is of fundamental importance to the Christian religion; it is what Christians base their lives on and therefore it plays a significant role in the lives of all Christians, no matter what church they belong to.

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Knitter highlights the imperative role of the New Testament in Christian thought about other religions, by saying:. One does not necessarily have to take the Bible literally to recognize that one of the most evident and central messages of the New Testament is that Jesus is the means, the only means, that God has given to humans by which they can figure out what life is all about and get out of the mess they're in.

There are a number of New Testament texts which plainly state that Jesus is the only way to salvation. These are not the only texts that could be listed as essential to this model. There are texts that highlight the hopelessness of humankind without Christ 28 and texts which focus on the necessity of hearing and believing the gospel in order to be saved 29 Knitter One cannot avoid these texts when dealing with the Christian theology about other religions.

These texts are central to the way Christians view their faith and therefore have a significant impact on the way Christians view other religions. For Christians, who base their lives on the New Testament as followers of Christ, it is not difficult to believe that there is only one way to salvation and that this is exactly what God has provided through Christ.

Therefore, based upon their belief in the Bible they make it clear that if Jesus is the only way to salvation, all other religions and paths to salvation must be false and must therefore be replaced by Christianity.

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Knitter states that due to living in a world with so many uncertainties and difficulties, humankind in some way seeks one solution, one path to a unified, cooperative truth that they can be sure of. The replacement model provides just that: A singular God-given way which makes complete sense. However, there is a less exclusivistic version of the replacement model, which focuses on the presence of God within the sphere of other religions. In what follows the concept of partial replacement will be discussed, which is the second branch developed in the model of replacement.

What differentiates the partial replacement model from the total replacement model is that this branch of the replacement model states that God is revealed to all people Knitter Whereas in the total replacement branch it is stated that other religions have no value, because God is not present in any religions besides Christianity, this model rejoices in the genuine revelation of God in other religions Knitter The partial replacement model 'represent [s] ways in which God gives answers and reaches out to the human search' Knitter Knitter states that the reason why Christians should be open to recognising God's presence in other religions is that there are various texts in the Bible stating this.

Examples are Romans and , which speak of God communicating to people through nature creation and the human conscience. Acts states that God is not far from 'each one of us' and Paul announces to the Athenians that it is through God that they we live and exist or as the text puts it 'have being'. Knitter lists the beginning of the Gospel of John Ch.

The Gospel according to John states that the Word gave life and that 'this light was the life of all people. One can also refer to the Reformers, specifically Martin Luther and John Calvin, who spoke of a sense of God inherently instilled into human nature Knitter This sense of the divinity sensus divinitatis or a seed of religion semen relegionis , as it is also referred to, has been planted into all humankind by God McGrath :. God has endowed human beings with some inbuilt sense or presentiment of the divine existence. It is as if something about God has been engraved in the heart of every human being.

What is referred to here is 'not so much a case of God speaking to people, from above and beyond; rather, God's voice is heard within' Knitter Calvin also spoke of the universality of religion as a consequence of this built-in sense of God. Other theologians such as Paul Tillich and Wolfhart Pannenberg speak of the presence of God in all human beings in their own way.

Tillich speaks of the fact that the presence of God is revealed when one is grasped by what he refers to as an 'Ultimate Concern'. Pannenberg, on the other hand, refers to the process of history as being the vessel for God's presence in the lives of humans Knitter Therefore, it is clear that the partial replacement model declares that God speaks not only to Christians, but that he is present in other religions as well.

These religions can make believers aware of the existence of God and of his loving, caring nature. All religions have redemption as a theme and create the awareness that God is needed for salvation. Therefore, all religions reveal some truth about God Knitter When this model maintains that God is present in all humankind and that all religions in some way have value, it does not mean that salvation can take place through other religions.

Although these religions may be of some value and there may even be revelation in them, there can be no salvation without Christ. This model Knitter :. While these theologians say clearly that God reveals in other religions, they just as clearly declare that God does not save in other religions. The partial replacement model bases the declaration that salvation cannot be found through other religions on the New Testament. Although the New Testament makes references to God revealing himself to all humankind, it makes no statements of general revelation as vehicle for salvation. We are yet again back to the sola which declares that it is through Christ alone that one is saved Knitter ; cf.

The rift between God and humanity, caused by sin, has been mended by Christ and it is solely through Christ that humanity is reunited with God. Braaten ; see Knitter speaks about the way salvation is understood in terms of this model:. In the texts of the New Testament and early Christian traditions Jesus is depicted not as a saviour but as the Saviour, not as a Son of God, one among many in a pantheon of gods and half-gods, but as the one-and-only Saviour of the World, God's only begotten Son.

This exclusivity claim is part of the kernel of the gospel, not so much husk that can be demythologized away Jesus is the one-and-only Saviour, or he is not Saviour at all. Pannenberg ; see Knitter had his own reason for stating that Christians must insist that Christ is the only Saviour: Christ himself made this statement about himself. He bases this claim on what Knitter calls 'the surest thing we can know about the historicalJesus', which is that Jesus thought himself to be the eschatological prophet. Pannenberg puts it this way:.

To say that humanity can be saved by anyone or anything other than Christ would be to contradict Christ himself Knitter Not only is Christ seen as the only Saviour, but it is also only through Christ that humanity knows that it can be saved by faith alone. This means that to be saved and to 'know and truly feel the power of God's love and presence, they somehow have to come into contact with Christ' Knitter This then leads us back to sola scriptura, because it is through the Bible that one comes into contact with Christ.

Therefore, it is through the preaching of the gospel that one comes into contact with Jesus, who then makes humanity aware of the need for salvation. This again means that the revelation which takes place through other religions cannot lead to salvation; these religions 'can't bring this revelation to fruition' Knitter According to this model the Christian idea of salvation differs acutely from other religions' view of salvation Knitter In these other religions there is a need for the followers of these faiths to save themselves.

In other words, the followers try to win God's love and salvation by doing good deeds, they do not trust in God or his grace. Brunner states that in 'non-Biblical religions, humans seek themselves, their own salvation; even in their surrender to the Deity, they want to find their own security. Tillich adds another critique by saying that all religions lose sight of the fact that rituals and words are merely symbols for the Divine and that they are not the Divine itself; no words or rituals can become God, they are used only to express something about God Knitter Although this model maintains that salvation is impossible through any other religion than Christianity, its approach to revelation being a possibility in other religions allows for the possibility of dialogue between Christianity and other religions.

No matter the state of their salvation, the religious Other is still a child of God and therefore should be respected. Netland states that there are topics that can be discussed amongst religious people from different faiths and that these discussions can be valuable. In dialogue with one another, people from different faiths can trade information about the content of their religions; this can be conducive to correcting the prejudices, mistrust and conflict between religions.

Social, environmental and political concerns can be shared in the attempt to create cooperation amongst the differing faiths, to resolve some of the possible issues in concerning these topics Knitter The dialogue will, however, inevitably lead to the differences and similarities between the religions that take part in this dialogue, and based on the replacement model the differences will undoubtedly outweigh the similarities. Pannenberg states that this, the similarities and differences between religions, are exactly what has become the subject of dialogue see Knitter Knitter explains what is meant by this statement:.

Persons from different religions can best help each other by talking about their disagreements - where they think the other is wrong; why each party believes that its views is superior to others This is where the dialogue becomes interreligious, where religious people are not just trading information or working on social matters but talking about what really matters to them: God's truth.

It is also important that dialogue be carried out with mutual respect for the religious freedom of the religious Other - this is especially important in the South African context, as religious freedom is ensconced in the Constitution of South Africa. The partial replacement model states that if dialogue is handled with respect and sensitivity and does not lead to the condemning of one another, then Jesus will prove himself to be the name in which people come to know God. Thus, according to this model, other religions do pave the way for the acceptance of the gospel, 'but it is a negative preparation: they provide questions, or indicate directions, which only Jesus can answer and guide' Knitter Once again Braaten's views can be used to summarise the relationship of Christianity with other religions, according to this model:.

Religions are not systems of salvation in themselves, but God can use even them to point beyond themselves and toward their own crisis and future redemption in the crucified and risen Lord of history. Therefore, God can make use of other religions, they are not merely useless and thus cannot be rejected completely Knitter It must, however, be stated that amongst exponents of the replacement model there is no consensus about the salvation of people who have never heard of Christ.

Some state that these people perish see Knitter , where he refers to opinions of fundamentalists who follow this line of thinking , others invoke a kind of Christian agnosticism. They do not know what happens to a person who has never heard of Christ and the salvation found in him. There are, however, those optimists who believe that in some way God will save those who have never had the opportunity to accept Christ as Saviour. Whether he saves them by giving them a choice after death, sending them a messenger in their last minutes of life or determining whether they would have accepted Christ if they had the chance, in some way they could be saved Knitter In what follows, the second model, the fulfilment model, will be explored to show how Christianity will inevitably have the task of fulfilling the many other religions.

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The fulfilment model. In this model the keyword is no longer replace, instead it is fulfil. This model uses the insights of the replacement model, affirms them, but also aims to answer the question posed by it cf. Knitter states that the fulfilment model offers a theology that gives equal emphasis to the two foundational Christian convictions we have already heard about, 'that God's love is universal, extending to all peoples, but also that God's love is particular, made real in Jesus Christ. Rahner based his theology of religions on a statement which is central to Christianity: God is love.

These three words, however, have certain implications. For Rahner, the implications of this central Christian concept of God being love are that 'God wants to reach out and embrace all people and beings' Knitter Therefore, God wants to save all people.

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This influential theologian 'reminded us that what God wants, God does' Knitter This means that God will in some way act. If he is love and therefore wants to save all people, he will take the necessary steps to save humankind. Rahner states that the way in which God acts is by communicating or revealing himself to all human beings. Knitter explains this concept by saying that God makes himself present and that this leads to all people being enabled to feel the reality 'the peace, the affirmation, the tug, the lure' of God's presence.

A term that remains central here is yet again grace, 'God gives saving grace to every single human being. Otherwise, God really doesn't love every single human being' Knitter Rahner adds that humankind's human nature is not so natural after all. In a sense, the human being as such is "super-natural," oriented to something beyond nature. Knitter offers his own explanation of Rahner's thinking by saying that if we as humans truly had the capability of being 'natural women and men', human beings would feel something more than their human nature, 'we would feel our graced nature.

Rahner refers to this as supernatural existential. Again Knitter's explanation of the concept of supernatural existential is useful:. Rahner used to say that there is no such thing as 'just nature' naturepura : by being human, we are more than human. More simply: to touch and feel what we really are is to touch, or be touched by, the Divine, the Spirit of God. One might even say that human nature is of a piece with divine nature. Rahner describes various ways in which the Divine and grace are present in human nature. It is an in-depth feeling, 'vibrating' within the most human activities.


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  • For him '"grace" is not like a suit that we put on to look like God's children; rather, it is like the electricity that lights up a light bulb to make it what it is' Knitter This analogy means that the love of the Divine does not merely welcome or receive humanity, it enters into the human being, fills humankind and permits a person to live differently, to be transformed.

    This transformation happens from within Knitter :. Among many particular examples that he [Karl Rahner] gives of how we can feel this divine presence within us, the most basic is what he called, in German, the Vorgriff. Signifying something built into our human nature, it means, loosely, 'reaching for more'.

    In all that we reach out to, we are always reaching for more than what we try to, or do, grasp. This concept of reaching for more can be best seen when one thinks about the need of every human being to know and to love. No matter the amount of knowledge a person has, there is always a need to know, the more a person knows the more they want to know. Knowledge leads to further questions, some to which answers are found and others which merely lead to more questions.

    The same can be said for love, the need of a human being to be loved and accepted, when responded to and reciprocated, is extremely satisfying, however, the need never becomes completely satisfied Knitter Knitter states that it is in the love that a person receives or gives to another that the 'tug' of a greater love is experienced, 'it is in loving and being loved by finite others that we love and are loved by the infinite Other.

    Rahner does not deny the existence of sin or selfishness, but views the relation between sin and grace, in the same way Paul did when he spoke of grace in his letter to the Romans, '[w ]here sin increased, grace abounded all the more' Rm This is what Knitter refers to as being the good news.

    If we have fallen into a deep ditch, we've also been given the means to crawl out of it. If selfishness and greed are, as we hear so often, simply 'part of human nature', the ability to love and care about others is even deeper, more powerful and satisfying part of human nature. This is the reason why Rahner refers to himself as someone who is optimistic about salvation.

    Goodness or grace is much stronger than evil, 'our potential to be "saved" is greater than our reality as "fallen"' Knitter Rahner also makes the startling claim that God is active in all religions. He comes to this conclusion by taking a look at God's presence in human history Knitter :.

    If we believe that God acts and breathes throughout human history, and we believe that that breath has to take visible, material shape, then the religions are the first areas we should investigate for clues of that Divine breath or Spirit. Rahner believes that salvation is possible through religions other than his own. God is drawing all people closer to him through their distinctive religions. According to him non-Christian religions can have a positive effect on people, because they are a means of gaining the right relationship with God and thus the attainment of salvation.

    This means that the religious Others cannot merely be saved despite their religion, but rather because of their religion. Knitter states that Rahner did not approve of all religions, he merely established the possibility of the Divine in other religions:. Whether the possibility is a reality has to be a further conclusion from the concrete study of, and dialogue with, persons of other faiths. Rahner was just opening a possibility - but one that never before was open for Christians.

    However, Rahner did not doubt the fact that there are corrupt and illegitimate facets of all religions and that all people have the responsibility to use their own discernment to decide what the imperfections and fallacies in these religions are. Rahner's theology of religions can be summarised in three parts. Part 1 states that God's grace, his nurturing presence, is part of human nature; the second states that grace must always be embodied; and the third part ensures that his theology of religions is a Christian theology of religions, by stating that all grace is Christ's grace Knitter This means that if God's grace and his presence are infused in human nature and history, it is solely due to Jesus Christ's acts in humanity.

    Rahner uses theological terms to indicate the way Jesus is involved in salvation: Christ is not the efficient cause of salvation. He is, however, the final cause of salvation. Knitter explains what this means:. Efficient causes produce something that wasn't there to begin with.