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Shifting Perspectives on Other Religions

Harold Netland


For the first time since the Constantine victory in A.D. 312 and its consequences, the Christian Church is heading towards a real and spiritual encounter with the great non-Christian religions. Not only because the so-called younger churches, the fruits of the work of modern missions, live in the midst of them, but also because the fast growing interdependence of the whole world forces the existence and vitality of these religions upon us, and makes them a challenge to the Church to manifest in new terms its spiritual and intellectual integrity and value.

HENDRIK KRAEMER, Religion and the Christian Faith

The half century since Kraemer penned those words has demonstrated the prescience of his observation. Few issues have been as prominent or controversial in recent Christian theological or missiological discourse as the question of the relation of Christianity to non-Christian religious traditions. Since the 1980s there has been an enormous increase, both in volume and in sophistication of discussion, in the theological literature on religious pluralism. In part this is due to the growing exposure in the West to other religions. Our awareness of “religious others” has never been more acute than it is today, forcing the church to deal with new and troubling questions that pose formidable challenges to traditional Christian beliefs and practices.1 Canon Max Warren, for twenty-one years general secretary of the Church Missionary Society and a major missiological figure in Britain in the mid-twentieth century, correctly perceived the seriousness of the issues when in an address in 1958 he claimed that the impact of agnostic science upon Christianity will turn out to have been mere “child’s play” when compared to the challenge presented by non-Christian religions.2 Writing almost forty years later, Gerald Anderson, one of the most astute observers of missions today, observed, “No issue in missiology is more important, more difficult, more controversial, or more divisive for the days ahead than the theology of religions. . . . This is the theological issue for mission in the 1990s and into the twenty-first century.”3

Although the reasons for the recent prominence of religious pluralism as an issue for the church are varied and complex, it seems clear that more open perspectives on other religions are directly related both to increased exposure to religious diversity and to the cumulative effect of the social and intellectual forces of modernity that tend to undermine confidence in traditional beliefs. The increasingly pervasive exposure in the West to cultural and religious diversity, combined with the erosion of confidence in orthodox Christianity engendered by profound social and intellectual transformations, help to explain the current attraction of pluralistic views on Christianity and other religions. Chapters two through four will explore some of these factors underlying recent shifts in perspectives on other religions, but in this chapter we will first consider the nature of these changes over the past several centuries.

The Traditional Position

Christians have traditionally maintained that God has revealed himself in a unique manner in the Scriptures and preeminently in the incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth, and that sinful humankind can be reconciled to God only through the sinless person and atoning work of Jesus Christ, the one Lord and Savior for all people in all cultures. Allowing for certain distinctives of time and theological tradition, it is safe to say that this has been a central tenet of Christian orthodoxy throughout the past twenty centuries. Accordingly, in the early modern era other religions were egarded by Western Christians largely in negative terms as idolatrous “domains of darkness,” and adherents of other religions were thought of as “the heathen” who were “spiritually lost” and in desperate need of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

The dominance of this perspective is certainly understandable, for its roots (if not the rather unflattering language in which it has sometimes been expressed) are firmly embedded in the New Testament and the practice of the early church. The first Christians were uncompromising monotheists who believed that the one eternal God had decisively revealed himself through the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Salvation was available to all—Jews and Gentiles alike—because of God’s work on our behalf through Jesus Christ. Moreover, apostolic preaching insisted that salvation was possible only through Jesus Christ. Not surprisingly, then, alternative religious practices and beliefs were largely rejected as idolatrous, and the early church held a consistently critical posture toward the religious practices and beliefs of Hellenistic paganism.4

It is tempting to assume that the perplexing problems of religious pluralism we face today are unprecedented, but nothing could be further from the truth.5 The world of the New Testament was characterized by social, intellectual and religious ferment. Traditional Jewish religious values and beliefs were being challenged by powerful competing forces within the Hellenistic-Roman world. Even within Palestine itself, Jews were confronted with alien beliefs and practices. The many Jews in the Diaspora, scattered throughout the Mediterranean world, were forced to come to grips with the relation between their traditional Jewish religious and cultural heritage and the invigorating intellectual and religious currents from Greece and Rome. Not only did they face the formidable challenge presented by Greek philosophy and literature but also they had to contend with the many popular religious movements of the day—the cults of Asclepius and Artemis-Diana, the “mystery religions” of Osiris and Isis, Mithras, Adonis and Eleusis, the ubiquitous cult of the Roman emperor and the many popularized versions of Stoicism, Cynicism and Epicureanism.6

John Ferguson observes that the attitudes of many in the Roman Empire in the first century were marked by tolerance of alien religious beliefs and practices, accommodation and syncretism.7 The idea that there are multiple ways in which to relate to the divine, with each culture having its own distinctive traditions for doing so, was widespread.8 The outstanding exceptions to this general pattern were the Jews and the early Christians, for the strict monotheism of Jews and Christians allowed no room for accommodation with the polytheistic traditions of Hellenism and Roman religion. Initially little more than a small minority movement within the Empire, the early Christians faced hostility on all sides. They were attacked by Jews as heretics, persecuted by Rome as a seditious movement, resisted by the masses for their rejection of the popular cults and mystery religions, and ridiculed by the philosophers for their seemingly crude views.9 It was within this environment that Christians uncompromisingly proclaimed Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior for all peoples.

Although there were always those who accepted more accommodating views, it can hardly be denied that the traditional perspective—which regarded Christianity as the only true religion and Jesus Christ as the only Savior—remained dominant within both Roman Catholic and Protestant churches until the nineteenth century. This view prompted the emerging missionary movements of the Catholic and Protestant communities.

Throughout the Middle Ages it was the firm conviction of Catholics that those outside the church were eternally damned—a stance that has been associated with the formula extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the church no salvation).10 Introduced by Cyprian in the third century and formalized at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, the doctrine was given its most explicit and rigid expression by the Council of Florence in 1442:


[The Council] firmly believes, professes and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, cannot participate in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels”, unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock. . . . [N]o one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.11

Jacques Dupuis reminds us, however, that the primary target of the formula was Jews, heretics and others who were held to be culpable because, having been exposed to the church’s teaching, they had willfully rejected it.12

Protestants maintained that those apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ were forever lost, and it was this assumption that drove early missionaries to bring the gospel of Christ to the remote peoples of China, Africa, Latin America and the islands of the Pacific. Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, vividly expressed this perspective in his challenge to the Student Volunteer Movement in Detroit in 1894: “There is a great Niagara of souls passing into the dark in China. Every day, every week, every month they are passing away! A million a month in China they are dying without God.”13 One simply cannot understand the remarkable Protestant missionary effort of the nineteenth century, including the work of missionary pioneers such as William Carey, Adoniram Judson, David Livingstone and Hudson Taylor, without appreciating the premise underlying their efforts: salvation is to be found only in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and those who die without the saving gospel of Christ face an eternity apart from God.

Early Modern Missions and Religious Others

One might have the impression from current discussions of pluralism that it was Western theologians in the mid-twentieth century who first discovered the problem of Christianity and other religions. In reality, of course, questions about other religions have been prominent among missionaries since the early nineteenth century, with many of the perspectives adopted by theologians today having been anticipated in earlier missiological discussions.

Although he was not the first Protestant missionary, the modern missionary movement is often regarded as beginning with William Carey in India. At a time when many were convinced that Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 to “make disciples of all nations” had already been fulfilled by the apostles and thus was no longer applicable, Carey challenged the theological establishment in 1792 by arguing that Christ’s command had not been fulfilled and that it was still binding upon the church.14 Within several decades numerous missions societies were formed and large numbers of European missionaries spread throughout Asia and Africa, carrying the gospel to those still apart from Christ. The sentiments associated with early missionary endeavors are captured in the comments of missions advocate George Burder at the 1795 inaugural meeting of the Missionary Society (later to become the London Missionary Society):


I stand up as the advocate of thousands, of millions of souls, perishing for lack of knowledge. I stand up to plead the cause of Christ, too, too long neglected by us all—to plead the cause of the poor benighted heathen—to lay before you their miserable state—to convey to your ears and hearts the cry of their wretchedness—O that it may penetrate your souls—“Come over—Come over, and help us”.15

As the West increasingly became aware of the large numbers of those who had never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, there was an outpouring of concern for the salvation of the “heathen,” with thousands committing their lives to the foreign mission field. Trying to discern the motives of others is always a perilous enterprise, and undoubtedly missionaries in the nineteenth century—just as Christians today—were prompted by a variety of motives, some more admirable than others. Nevertheless, David Bosch is surely correct in his assessment that “a primary motive of most missionaries was a genuine feeling of concern for others; they knew that the love of God had been shed abroad in their hearts and they were willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of him who had died for them.”16 Remarkable men such as A. T. Pierson, John R. Mott, Robert Wilder, A. B. Simpson, C. I. Scofield, Robert Speer, T. J. Bach and D. L. Moody inspired generations of missions leaders and practitioners.

In spite of differences on more minor matters, there was a general consensus within Protestant missions on basic theological and strategic issues until the eruption of the fundamentalist-modernist controversies of the 1920s and 1930s. James Patterson notes that, prior to the controversies, most Protestant missionaries would have accepted the statement in 1920 from the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the USA that “the supreme and controlling aim of foreign missions is to make Jesus Christ known to all men as their Divine Savior and Lord and to persuade them to become His disciples.”17 The deity of Jesus Christ as the unique incarnation of God was largely unquestioned. Furthermore, most Protestant missionaries adopted largely negative views of non-Christian religious beliefs and practices, although many acknowledged elements of truth and goodness reflected in them. Salvation was said to be found only in Jesus Christ and, whatever their social or cultural merits, other religions were considered to be fundamentally contrary to God’s revelation in Christ. While not neglecting the social dimensions of mission,18 Protestant missionaries tended to focus upon proclamation of salvation to individuals and to look upon non-Western cultures as obstacles in their way. Non-Christian religions were seen as the cultural matrices within with such individuals were enslaved. D. L. Moody spoke for many when he said, “I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat and said to me, ‘Moody, save all you can.’ ”19 The following statement made in 1896 by Judson Smith, a member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, can be taken as representative of the mainstream of nineteenth-century Protestant missionaries’ attitudes toward non-Christian religions:


Missionaries do not aim to Americanize or Europeanize the people of the Orient, or to bring them under the political control of the great powers of the West or to impose our type of civilization upon them. . . . They have a deeper aim and address a more vital need; they seek to Christianize these peoples, to penetrate their hearts and lives with the truth and spirit of the Gospel, to enthrone Jesus Christ in their souls. . . . There is no faith which Christianity is not worthy to replace, which it is not destined to replace. It is not to share the world with Islam, or with Buddhism, or with any other religious system. It is the one true religion for man as man in the Orient and in the Occident, in the first century and in the twentieth century and as long as time shall last.20

Missions and Colonialism

In thinking about modern missions and religious others we must consider briefly the question of missions and colonialism. The story of Protestant missions and colonialism is a complicated one that often falls victim to the particular agendas of those telling the story. In addressing the issues we must allow for the ambiguities of earlier times, remembering that today we have the benefit of lessons learned over the past several centuries.21 Nevertheless, some things are clear.

Through the pioneering and sacrificial work of thousands of selfless individuals, the gospel was carried literally worldwide and the church was planted among peoples on all continents, so that by the early twentieth century Christianity, uniquely among the world’s religions, was a global religion. And yet the modern missionary movement has had an ambivalent relationship with eighteenth- and nineteenth century Western imperialism, leaving a legacy that, among other things, has helped make the agenda of religious pluralism attractive today. For many in the West are drawn to pluralism in part out of a deep sense of postcolonialist guilt— and surely there is much in its treatment of non-Western peoples for which the West ought to feel profoundly guilty.22 But it is often felt today that one way to atone for the past sins of colonialism is to embrace uncritically non-Western cultures and religions, refusing to make negative judgments about their beliefs and practices, and this sentiment naturally finds religious pluralism attractive.

Missions has had an ambiguous relationship with Western colonialism. In many cases there was a connection, whether intentional or not, between Western political, economic and military agendas and missionary endeavors. Given its close link to European and American cultures, at times reinforced through the complicity of missionaries with colonialist institutions, Christianity inevitably came to be identified as a Western religion, thereby assuming both the benefits and the liabilities of Western cultures and the entangling legacy of colonialism. Nineteenth-century missionaries were products of their times, just as we too are shaped by our own environments today, and they exemplified some of the prejudices of their peers. Thus in many minds the “three C’s”—Christianity, commerce and civilization—came to exemplify the “blessings” that the West was to “share” with the rest of the world. Stephen Neill observes:


Missionaries in the nineteenth century had to some extent yielded to the colonial complex. Only Western man was man in the full sense of the word; he was wise and good, and members of other races, in so far as they became westernized, might share in this wisdom and goodness. But Western man was the leader, and would remain so for a very long time, perhaps for ever.23

However, as David Bosch reminds us, “it is simply inadequate to contend that mission was nothing other than the spiritual side of imperialism and always the faithful servant of the latter.”24 Individual missionaries and mission agencies had at best an ambivalent relationship with colonialist institutions and policies. Missionaries certainly did benefit from the protection provided by colonialist powers, but it is also true that colonialist institutions such as the East India Company were often hostile toward missionaries, whom they regarded as subversives who through their ministry among the natives would undermine the colonizers’ economic and political interests.25 Bosch quotes a French governor of Madagascar as saying of missionaries, “What we want is to prepare the indigenous population for manual labor; you turn them into people.”26 Moreover, Vinoth Ramachandra observes that even in India, where the link between colonialism and missions was especially evident, Christian missions cannot be dismissed as merely religious imperialism.


Christian missions in India are routinely dismissed in contemporary Indian scholarship as simply an adjunct to colonialism. But, in fact, they were the soil from which both modern Hindu reform movements and Indian nationalism sprang. Most of the Indian intellectual and political leadership of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century emerged from Christian schools and colleges. Gandhi may have claimed to have been nurtured in the spiritual atmosphere of the Bhagavad Gita, but it was not from this text that he derived his philosophy of ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (“truth-force”). The deepest influences on Gandhi came from the “renouncer” traditions of Jainism and the New Testament, particularly the Sermon on the Mount as mediated through the works of Tolstoy. Christians in India have long been in the forefront of movements for the emancipation of women, with missionary societies from Britain and the United States often giving the lead where the colonial government was hesitant to tread for fear of upsetting local sensibilities.27

Nevertheless, the relation between colonialism and missions was often ambiguous. Indeed, in the eyes of many, Christianity and Western culture were indistinguishable. What missionaries understood to be the confrontation between truth and error, the kingdom of God and the powers of Satan, was often perceived by others as little more than the clash between Western imperialism and indigenous ways of living. The tragic legacy of this era continues to haunt current debates over religious pluralism.

The Fulfillment Theme Emerges

Ironically, even while the modern missionary movement was enjoying unprecedented success and the gospel of Jesus Christ was spreading to all parts of the globe, dramatic changes were occurring in Europe that were to alter forever the Christian community’s understanding of itself and its mission in the world. The crucial assumption that God had revealed himself uniquely in the Bible, and thus that the Bible was absolutely trustworthy in all it says, was being eroded by higher critical views of Scripture and the conclusions of Darwinian science. The distinctiveness of Jesus Christ was being challenged by the developing discipline of the history of religions. Common prejudices about non-Europeans as savages were being undermined through extensive contact with the impressive cultures of China, Japan, India and Latin America.

From roughly 1840 onward, Protestant missions became increasingly embroiled in controversy over the theology of religions, culminating in the bitter controversies of the 1920s and 1930s.28 The disputes were due to various factors, including greater openness to soteriological universalism and rejection of traditional teachings on hell,29 increased sensitivity on the part of missionaries to indigenous cultures and contextualization of the gospel, and the reflection of missionaries upon their own experiences with deeply pious Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. In Europe and North America certain theologians provided theological foundations for more open perspectives on other religions. The Anglican theologian F. D. Maurice, for example, best known for The Kingdom of Christ (1842), in which he emphasized the “actual presence” of the kingdom of Christ in the world as a present reality, published his 1845-1846 Boyle Lectures as The Religions of the World and Their Relations to Christianity.30 Maurice adopted a remarkably positive view of non-Christian religions, admitting God’s presence and revelation within them. Thus Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism should not be rejected outright but should be affirmed as serving God’s purposes, and missionaries in their encounters with other religions should build upon the “precious fragments of truth” contained within them. Nevertheless, for Maurice there was no question that Christ represented God’s supreme and definitive self-revelation, for what was imperfectly anticipated in other religions is made complete in Christianity. Other theologians, such as B. F. Westcott, A. M. Fairbairn, Alexander V. G. Allen and Charles Cuthbert Hall, also influenced theologians and missionaries in adopting more positive views on other religions.31

More positive perspectives on other religions were evident at the turn of the century in missionaries Thomas Ebenezer Slater and Robert Allen Hume in India, Timothy Richard in China, Arthur Lloyd in Japan and many others.32 Greater openness to other faiths was prompted both by the conviction that firm commitment to Christ did not necessitate total rejection of other religions as nothing but “domains of darkness” and a deepening appreciation of the richness of Asian cultures. Embarrassment and dissatisfaction with the close link between Christianity and colonialism, combined with a growing appreciation for the cultural achievements of India, China and Japan, reinforced a more open theological framework. This newer kind of missionary called for more respectful and appreciative attitudes toward religious others, acknowledging what they saw as undeniable truth and beauty in other faiths as incomplete anticipations of what had been definitively revealed in Christ. This more positive perspective eventually came to be called the “fulfillment theme view” of other religions, for it held that what was imperfectly present in other religions was most fully revealed in Christianity.

Although he was not the first to articulate the view, the fulfillment theme has come to be identified primarily with John Nicol Farquhar (1861-1929). Born in Aberdeen and educated at Oxford, Farquhar arrived in India in 1891 as a missionary with the London Missionary Society, and after a period of teaching at the Society’s college in Calcutta, he was involved in evangelism, writing and lecturing under the auspices of the Indian YMCA, until ill health forced him to leave India in 1923. The last six years of his life Farquhar served as professor of comparative religion at the University of Manchester.

Among Farquhar’s many writings, none has been as influential as The Crown of Hinduism,33 a creative work in which “all the main features of Hinduism—as a religion and as a social system—were confronted with the Christian message.”34 Farquhar felt strongly the need for Christian missionaries to develop a positive appreciation for Indian culture and religion, and to present Christianity not as something that radically displaces Hindu traditions but that fulfills or brings to completion that which is already anticipated within them.35 Farquhar was concerned to develop a theological framework in which Hinduism might be positively appreciated. The dominant theoretical model for understanding religions at the time was in terms of evolutionary development from more “primitive” religions to the “higher” monotheistic religions, culminating (naturally) in Christianity.36 Farquhar largely adopted this view and regarded Hinduism as not so much false as incomplete, a “less developed” religion that can be appreciated on its own terms but that is to be supplanted by Christianity. But Farquhar did not for a moment regard Hinduism and Christianity as equally legitimate options. He held that it is in Christ that God has revealed himself in a definitive manner, and it is only in Christ that humankind, regardless of religion or culture, can truly find fulfillment. An evangelist himself, Farquhar claimed, “Our task is to preach the Gospel of Christ and to woo souls to Him; and to that great end every element in our work should be made strictly subordinate and subservient.”37 Although recognizing truths and noble aspirations in Hinduism, he emphasized that there is also much in Hindu practice that fails to live up to these ideals and thus degenerates into idolatry. Furthermore, in speaking of fulfillment Farquhar did not mean that Hindu beliefs and practices should be simply accepted by Christian missionaries just as they are. Basic elements of the Hindu worldview, such as assumptions about endless rebirths and karma, are false and thus should be rejected. As Eric Sharpe notes, for Farquhar “fulfillment” really meant “replacement,” so that Christianity should build upon—but ultimately replace—Hinduism.38 Christianity fulfills Hinduism in the sense that it provides the complete answers both to the questions emerging within Hinduism itself and to those that Hinduism fails to raise, and also in the sense that only in Jesus Christ will India find the resources to address the many problems it faces as it struggles to find its place in the modern world. Thus Farquhar concluded The Crown of Hinduism with these words:


We have already seen how Christ provides the fulfillment of each of the highest aspirations and aims of Hinduism. A little reflection on the material contained in this chapter will show that every line of light which is visible in the grossest part of the religion reappears in Him set in healthy institutions and spiritual worship. Every true motive which in Hinduism has found expression in unclean, debasing, or unhealthy practices finds in Him fullest exercise in work for the downtrodden, the ignorant, the sick, and the sinful. In Him is focused every ray of light that shines in Hinduism. He is the Crown of the faith of India.39

Farquhar’s views were controversial and he was criticized both by theological conservatives for being too accommodating of Hinduism and by liberals for still insisting upon the finality of Jesus Christ and Christianity. But the fulfillment motif, in varying forms, was to become a dominant theme in twentieth-century theologies of religions.40

Theological conservatives were not silent about the growing acceptance of what they perceived to be a naively optimistic view of non-Christian religions. In 1885, for example, Samuel Henry Kellogg, a missionary to India and professor of missions and world religions at Presbyterian Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, published The Light of Asia and the Light of the World, a passionate rebuttal of Sir Edwin Arnold’s 1879 bestseller The Light of Asia, a highly favorable poem about the life of the Buddha.41 Deeply troubled by the large numbers who were being captivated by the poem’s depiction of Buddhism, Kellogg argued that Arnold greatly exaggerated the positive aspects of the Asian religion as well as the extent to which Buddhism and Christianity were in agreement. Kellogg, by contrast, emphasized the “immeasurable disparity between the best that heathenism can offer and the teachings of the Gospel of Christ.”42

In 1899 Kellogg wrote A Handbook of Comparative Religion, a remarkable work that “influenced many missionaries in the last years of the Great Century to take a hard line against other religions.”43 Kellogg’s work can be taken as representative of the more traditional Protestant perspective on other religions and, although he wrote fourteen years before Farquhar’s The Crown of Hinduism appeared, his views provide a powerful counterargument to the already emerging fulfillment theory. The immediate concern that Kellogg addressed was the “widely spread impression that the difference between the various religions of the world has formerly been greatly exaggerated; and that, in particular, the teaching hitherto current in the Church as to the exclusive position held by Christianity as the one and only divinely revealed system of saving truth, is as erroneous as uncharitable.”44 Kellogg goes on to describe the more pluralistic view gaining currency in the late nineteenth century:


It seems to be imagined by many, that just as we ought to have charity toward our fellow-Christians in various sections of the Church of Christ, who hold on many points religious beliefs different from those which we have been educated to receive, inasmuch as in all that is essential to true religion and acceptance with God, we are truly at one; even so ought we to regard those who are not even Christians in name, but followers of one or other of the great world-religions [sic]. It is strangely fancied that howsoever these may differ from us in many things, yet in all things which are essential to man’s eternal well-being, they also are practically at one with Christians; so that, if they but carefully live up to the precepts and observances prescribed in their several religions, it is thought that it is only charitable to suppose that their prospects for the life to come may be, on the whole, as good as our own.45

Despite all this, Kellogg was not one to dismiss everything in non-Christian religions as simply demonic and idolatrous. After surveying key teachings of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Shinto, Kellogg readily admitted that there were some fundamental agreements across religions.46 Furthermore, after rehearsing the biblical teaching on general revelation, he claimed that “the same Scriptures teach no less clearly that the working of God’s Holy Spirit is by no means confined to those who have the revealed Word, but that the eternal Word ‘lighteth every man.’ ” Thus, he says, “let it then be granted, once and for all, that in all the great religions of mankind may be discovered more or less important fragments of Divine truth; and even such truths as are distinctive of Christianity.”47 However, Kellogg insisted that none of this in any way detracts from the Christian affirmations of the Bible as God’s authoritative revelation and of Jesus Christ as uniquely deity, the one Lord and Savior for all peoples, nor from the Christian rejection of other religions as basically false. After reviewing fundamental disagreements between Christianity and other religions, Kellogg concludes,


          [B]eing assured that as an organized and self-consistent system of related truths, Christianity is to be held a true religion, it is not through any lack of charity, but under the constraint of an imperious logical necessity, that we affirm that Islam, Hindooism, Buddhism, Confucianism, in a word, all religions whatsoever other than that of Christ, must be regarded as false.48

The question of the destiny of the unevangelized was also widely discussed at the time, and thus Kellogg addressed the issue of “whether men can be saved by other religions than that of Christ.” But he made a crucial distinction between two questions: (1) Can one be saved apart from actually hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ? (2) Can one be saved by carefully and sincerely following the dictates of the religion in which one finds oneself? Acknowledging that there is disagreement among Christians on the first question, Kellogg simply notes that “it is perfectly certain that whenever and wherever a man truly repents of all his sin and turns unto God, he will be saved.” However, he correctly emphasizes that this is a distinct issue from the question of “whether a man can be saved from sin her