The inclusive model holds that Jesus Christ is the normative expression of God’s will for all people. The problem is that many people have never known Christ. What role has the God of love for them? Is Christian faith offered to everyone? Some Christians believe in predestination so that only a few are chosen. Christianity has always been missionary, sometimes overly zealous, as in the Crusades and the Inquisition. What about those who have never heard of Jesus Christ? The Catholic Council of Trent (1545-1563) in the 16th century talked about a baptism of desire. You will be saved by Jesus without knowing him. Salvation is fully found in Jesus, but offered to everyone in all genuine religions who live the good life, who sincerely seek God, moved by grace, and strive by their deeds to do his will as they know it. Sometimes we call them like Karl Rahner (1904-1984) “anonymous Christians.”
The Divinity – Humanity Debate
What do you think about Jesus? Some people believe that Jesus was just a human legend, another good guy. Jesus could not work miracles nor tell the future and did not have divine power. Others have underplayed the humanity of Jesus, emphasizing his divinity with all its powers. In the minds of many, Jesus and God are one and the same. The emphasis of one or the other aspect of Jesus can be a detriment to a true understandable belief in Jesus Christ. The traditional Christian teaching has been that Jesus is truly human and truly divine at the same time. Jesus Christ is the full authentic expression of the divinity in an individual human. The object of Christian faith is Jesus Christ. We find the authentic expression of Jesus Christ in Scripture. The interpretation of Jesus Christ can be found in a Christian Church, since there have been various interpretations about Jesus Christ’s saving role.
The Gift of Faith
Christian faith is a gift from God. We do not earn it. However, we can refuse this gift. We must accept this gift with our mind, our heart, and our will. Our whole person believes in Jesus Christ. My mind believes that it is true. My heart says I trust. I will love and have a concern for others. The initial Christian faith is a gentle longing, a search for meaning. For some it comes in a blinding flash, like the apostle Paul. Dorothy Day (1897-1980) found it working with the poor, while others see it in the presence of a priest or minister who witnesses to goodness, or at the time of a tragedy or death. Still others grow up within a cultural community of Christians that grows with them throughout their life. My faith in Jesus Christ is a continuous growing mysterious reality.