Pastor at peace conference: ‘What’s the big deal about Jesus?’
The Layman Online, August 4, 2000
ORANGE, Calif. — “So what’s the big deal about Jesus?”
With those words, the Rev. Dirk Ficca of Chicago, a Presbyterian minister, told 600 people attending the Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference for 2000 that Jesus is just one of many paths to salvation.
“God’s ability to work in our lives is not determined by becoming a Christian,” Ficca said. “So what’s the big deal about Jesus?”
Ficca, one of the featured conference speakers, indicated he is opposed to Christian evangelism. “People of other religions have told me that when Christians approach them with the sole purpose of converting them to Christianity, it feels to them like … a kind of religious ‘ethnic cleansing,'” said Ficca.
Ficca is head of two ecumenical groups that promote cooperation among different religions. The challenge Christians face today, he said, is to find “a way to maintain the integrity of our own Christian faith, yet not feel that we have to convert others.”
Ficca urged the peacemakers to abandon their “instrumental” view of salvation, which holds that “salvation comes solely through Jesus … that Jesus himself is the Good News … (and) that the goal of the Christian faith is the establishment of Christendom.”
He recommended instead what he called a “revelatory” view – that “salvation comes through the Holy Spirit … that the Good News is what Jesus revealed … that it is God who saves, and that God offers salvation to all people … and the purpose is the establishment of the Kingdom of God.”
Ficca said that “proselytizing,” the goal of which is conversion, is not the same as “evangelizing,” which simply spreads the Good News of Jesus Christ and proclaims the gospel. He questioned whether the purpose of God’s people should be “to create Christians,” and whether Jesus’ Great Commission to his followers (to “make disciples of all nations”) necessarily means that “we are to make every person in every nation a disciple.”
“Whatever we think about the Christian faith,” he contended, “it is an interpretation.”
This article was condensed from a story by the Presbyterian News Service.