A Theology Without Conversion Misrepresents the Faith, Says Pope

( [email protected] ) Jul 05, 2003 03:59 AM EDT

Pope John Paul II warned a theology that does not invite conversion to Christ and considers all religions as equal, empties Christianity's real meaning, Zenit reported on 3 July.

He talked to bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Bangalore, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam, who just finished their five-yearly visit to the Holy See.

As he appealed to Indian bishops to surmount relativist explanations of religious pluralism, he emphasized that "Jesus Christ is always a new beginning in the life of him who alone is the Way and the Truth and the Life."

"Therefore interreligious dialogue does not replace the 'missio ad gentes' but rather forms a part of it," he said.

He said any theology of mission without the call to a radical conversion to Christ and which denies the cultural transformation doesn't show the reality of our faith.

"Some relativists explain Christianity as one of many religions. So they say Christian faith is of no different value than any other belief. But this empties Christianity of its defining Christological heart, which is alienated from our Lord Jesus, as the only Savior."

He also said "when relativism leads to syncretism: an artificial spiritual construct that manipulates and consequently distors the essential, objective, revelatory nature of Christianity, then an even greater misrepresentation of our faith occurs."

He emphasized the foundation of our faith is only Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

"On your own Indian subcontinent you are faced with cultures rich in religious and philosophical traditions. Within this context, we see how absolutely essential is the proclamation of Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God. It is in this understanding of Christ's uniqueness as the second person of the Blessed Trinity, fully God and fully man, that our faith must be preached and embraced."

As he said about the importance of proclaiming Jesus Christ as the center of Christianity, he stressed the need for the missionary apostolate in the world where many people do not know Christ yet.

"The new life brought by Christ and his followers teaches us the urgency of missionary activity. This demands an explicit proclamation of Jesus as Lord: a bold testimony founded on his command - 'go and make disiples of all nations' - and sustained by his promise - 'I'm with you always.'"