The brand of Christianity that is making headway in
John Hick, perhaps the highest-profile of today’s religious pluralists, has written: “If Jesus was literally God incarnate, the second Person of the holy Trinity living a human life, so that the Christian religion was founded by God-on-earth in person, it is then very hard to escape from the traditional view that all mankind must be converted to the Christian faith.” Christian missionaries agree. But Hick himself has drawn a quite different inference. He has been on a career-long campaign to downgrade the deity of Christ to a myth growing out of the hyperbolic “love language” of the early church for its leader.
Some people believe that Christianity would be the better for shedding such an arrogant and intolerant view of its founder. They are confident that Christianity could carry on quite well without this now-obsolete and offensive doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ. My recent trip to
In Malaysian Borneo I spent some evenings talking with the Christian children of former head-hunting animists. They told me how their parents lived in perpetual terror of the spirit-world, afraid of ghosts and the darkness of the night-time jungle, crippled by irrational superstitions, and plastering themselves with amulets to ward off the evil forces inhabiting the trees, rocks and birds all around them. These people eagerly embraced Christianity because they understood Jesus Christ to be “king of kings”—more powerful than all the forces that previously intimidated them. The merely-human Jesus of the liberal Jesus Seminar has nothing to offer them.
I also met Chinese Christians in
Flying home from Hong Kong I sat next to a Muslim from