Jison Saju Joseph BA BD M.Th.
One of the most radical, exclusive and fundamental beliefs of Christianity is that Jesus is the sole, universal saviour of the whole human kind. It is the basic affirmation on which the Christian church was founded. Peter proclaims this affirmation in his speech “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). This affirmation of the uniqueness of Jesus as the saviour was made in the midst of several other ‘savior claims’. The Roman imperial saviours, the Greek philosophical saviours and the Jewish religious saviours claimed that they would lead people into the way, show the way and teach the way to the ultimate, whereas Jesus said ultimately – “I am the way” – “Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.
Religious Pluralism and the Uniqueness of Christ: Jesus the Only Saviour?
We live in the midst of a plurality of religions and saviour claims. In the pluralistic context, one question which is often posed before us is whether the fact that Jesus is my saviour imply that He is the only saviour? The 18th century enlightenment rationality also put forward the question – How could a loving God fail to offer salvation to all? In the early 19th century, theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher sought to answer this question by portraying Christianity and the revelation in Christ as the fulfilment of all other religions manifestations. However, many inclusivists and pluralists of the later centuries went even upto the extend of questioning the uniqueness of Jesus as the saviour of humanity. On the other hand, theologians such as Karl bath concluded that there is a clear line of division between the Christian faith and others. Even the most detached reader of the New Testament would understand from it that faith in Christ is the final and absolute necessity for salvation. (Acts. 4:12, John 14:6). The revelation in Jesus Christ is the sole criterion by which all religions, including Christianity can be understand and evaluated.
No Discrimination: The Liberative Vision of Salvation in Jesus Christ
The salvation in Jesus Christ is not the prerogative of a selected few. Rather in God’s plan, no one is deprived of the chance to be saved. Paul the apostle says that God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Apostle John says that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Paul also says that gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jesus, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16). God shows no favoritism (Galatians 3:28; Romans 2:11). The Apostle John also testifies to the fact that Jesus Christ is the saviour of all: “For God solved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him” (John 3:16, 17).
Role of Jesus the Saviour: The Sole Mediator between God and Humanity
Apostle Paul says “For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many gods and many lords yet for us there is but one God, the Father from when all things came and for whom we live and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom all things come and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:5-6). The same Apostle confirms that “there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself, as a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5-6). God’s will to save all people is accomplished concretely in history by means of the unique efficacy of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Alongside God’s will to save, we must affairs that humankind’s only way to salvation is through Christ. No one has even seen God the only son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known (John 1:18).
Jesus is the sole source that sustains every other appeal for salvation. He is the sole constitutive mediator of salvation for the whole of humankind. Only in him do humankind, history and the cosmos find once and for all their purification and freedom from the nets of death-whether physical, psychic, social, ethical, spiritual or cosmic. He is not one of many mediators of salvation, but the one and only mediator.