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Engaging in a culture of religious pluralism

by Olga Alard, Entrust, South Africa

My husband Arthur and I serve at the International College of Bible and Missions in Johannesburg. Arthur is the principal and also teaches several courses. I also teach occasionally. I recently taught a course called Religious Pluralism. It deals with the theological proposition that all religions can lead to God and if people practice their religion sincerely, desiring to please God, they will be saved. The students compared that proposition with biblical teaching about salvation and wrote a paper including their personal position regarding salvation, based on the Bible.

In their feedback, the students, all of whom are in various leadership positions in their churches, said the course helped prepare them as church leaders to teach and preach sound doctrine and to engage the local post-modern and relativistic culture. They gained tools to equip their church members for evangelism and outreach in South Africa, where people practice many different religions and traditions.

Here is what some of them had to say upon completion of the course.

Thandekile: the course helped her realize the importance of knowing and teaching the whole Bible from beginning to end, not skipping "difficult" portions. She was amazed at how some Bible verses, explained in the context of the whole Bible metanarrative, made sense to her and gave her a better understanding of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.

Refilwe: the course helped her better understand the goal, the source, the means and the uniqueness of salvation and the person of Jesus, so she will be able to explain it better.

Muziwake: the course stretched his thinking and gave him a headache! But in the end, he learned how to define what the truth is and gained a better understanding of how to deal with relativism.

Yvonne: now has a better idea of how to start and engage in a conversation with a person who does not share her beliefs, with the goal of stirring up questions which will lead to the truth about salvation in Christ. She plans to pass what she’s learned along to fellow believers in her church.

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