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Presbyterian Belief on Salvation Reiterated

November 04, 2000|Religion News Service

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has issued the highest-level response to controversial comments made by a Chicago pastor in July that Christianity might not be the only path to salvation.

The Rev. Dick Ficca stirred controversy by suggesting at a church conference that Christianity might not be the only true religion and that "God's ability to work in our lives is not determined by becoming a Christian."

Several factions within the church have asked church leaders to speak out against Ficca' remarks, but the church has been largely hesitant to openly reprimand him.

In a letter late last month to the entire church, the executive committee of the General Assembly Council--a 93-member elected body that oversees the church between annual meetings--reiterated Ficca's right to his opinions but reaffirmed the historic teaching that faith in Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation.

"Biblical faith continues to be the Christian faith, the church's faith, our faith," the letter said. It added that "our own faith is unambiguous."

Pointing to the church's catechism, the letter said that Christians must treat members of other religions with respect and charity, but said, "How God will deal with those who do not know or follow Christ, but who follow another tradition, we cannot finally say."

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