Islam Versus Different Schools: Liberalism and Pluralism
It must not be forgotten that the three views regarding salvation described above are all Christian theological positions. Hick himself describes religious pluralism as "a Christian position" which starts at inclusivism, but accepts certain further conclusions. The problems which generate the debate over religious pluralism are problems about how to understand the Christian doctrine of salvation. According to traditional Christian doctrine, salvation consists in the divine forgiveness of sin, a forgiveness which, with respect to the universal human participation in Adam's original sin, is made possible only by Christ's suffering and sacrifice on the cross. Christians have furthermore held that to share in the redemption provided by Christ, one must personally respond by placing one's faith in that redemption, according to Protestants, or by the sacrament of Baptism, in Catholicism.
It is to be observed that the doctrine of salvation in Protestant Christianity is articulated in terms of faith, while in Catholicism the emphasis is on the sacramental, although exceptions are allowed. According to Catholic doctrine, salvation is the proper end of man, the beatific vision of God in heaven. Redemption is the release of man from the bondage of sin and restoration of friendship with God through the suffering and death of Christ as God incarnate. One participates in the redemption through the sacraments, by means of which grace is obtained, and first of all, through Baptism. There are three kinds of Baptism in Catholicism: (a) Baptism by water, administered by pouring water on the head and reciting the words: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"; (b) Baptism by desire, considered to obtain in the case of adults who sincerely intend to enter the Catholic Church, but for whom Baptism by water is for some reason impossible; and (c) Baptism by blood, martyrdom, which is bearing witness to Christ through the sacrifice of one's life. It is useful to keep the Catholic doctrine in mind in order to highlight, by way of contrast, some of the features of Hick's position on salvation and redemption.
Hick does not give much consideration to the Catholic doctrine, for he is writing as a Presbyterian minister who is at once a theologian, philosopher and a liberal social activist. His social activism brought him into close contact with the Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs of Birmingham when in 1967, he accepted a chair in the Philosophy of Religion at