Stories In History

If we like to name the wide field where people are used to meet with each other in one word, we have to say: history. Wherever we do it, it might happen that at first westerners do so. For undoubtedly in western thinking the history of humankind and world history is the central place where unity and community on the one hand, plurality and diversity on the other hand comes across. Certainly the modern turn toward history was one of the most significant moments which in consequence contributed to the enrichment and the limitation of human self-realization as well. Dealing with history gave insight into a multitude of facets and particular knowledge on the various levels of world and human society and, at the same time, made one's own standpoint appear insignificant and often unimportant. And yet, in a time where man is about to conquer the universe by flights to the moon and the Mars, we feel more and more forced into one great fatal community on our mother earth.

Whatever we discuss under headings like globalization testifies that not withstanding all diversities of thought and language, culture and society, policy and religion we live in an irrevocable unity. To contemplate this unity in diversity from the angle of religions is the purpose of this chapter. In the foreground we do not concentrate on Christianity so much, but on the plenitude of human faces throughout the world. Edward Schillebeeckx finished his great trilogy with a book which in Dutch was simply titled Mensen als verhaal van God (1989).1 It begins like this:

A small boy is said once to have remarked, 'People are the words with which God tells his story.' His remark is the theme of this book.

1 For the English edition see E. Schillebeeckx, The Church. The Human Story of God. Crossroad: New York 1990; quote: p. xiii. See also H. Waldenfels, Gott. Auf der Suche nach dem Lebnsgrund. Benno: Leipzig 2nd ed. 1997, pp. 91-98. 108f.

In view of religious options we, too, ask how humans see and pass through their stories. Without claiming that there could not be considered other points of view, we concentrate on five aspects and contemplate history in stories of suffering and search, promise and salvation, and stories of God. It is evident to every one that all these aspects are connected with the history of religion. For we have to consider one point from the outset: We are living in a world which is shaped by the tension between what is and what could be, at least what according to our imagination should be. So all stories reflect in some way or the other the tension between - we might also say - between reality and ideal (or whatever we should think it should be). Moreover, whatever at first glance apparently is an individual story is mostly connected with human society, too, so that the personal story of a single person can never be seen as a story totally isolated from the wider and comprising world history.

STORIES OF SUFFERING

For most people world history is above all formed by sufferings and stories of suffering. That is true beyond Christianity where in view of the sufferings of the Lord the term "Passion Narrative" is familiar.2 History as such is ambivalent. Remembering past sufferings in the present time can help to overcome, sometimes even to heal them, but many times memory leaves happiness and joy behind. My situation today is seldom such that I could not think of it differently and better. Our life passes between ideals and realities, often severe realities. There is no religion where this insight is not fundamental. This is true, even if the explanations of the perception differ.

The total ambivalence of secular life reality is exposed by the Buddha in the words: "Everything is suffering" (see Appendix 2, nr. 2). For him suffering is part of the existence of all living, in some sense it is identical with it. Suffering is here another word for the transitoriness, finitude and contingency of all worldly being. Suffering, therefore, is first of all a burden which people have to carry without being responsible for it. That does not mean that people are not endeavored to do everything to get rid of the burden. The constraint which constitutes the suffering of the world, finds the most articulate expression where people free themselves from death, but death only opens up the door

into a new earthly existence and the living one is dismissed into the cycle of rebirths. That the rank of the new existence is the fruit of the past existence, and that merits and failures are balanced against each other, manifests only that in the Asian understanding of suffering also the moral consciousness awakened. This can be proved in the various Asian religious systems of India and China, but even in European history. For by no means the doctrine of reincarnation is limited to Asia; it counts today also in the western world a remarkable number of adherents, of course, with various kinds of arguments.

In Jewish-Christian thinking suffering, evil (in the sense of moral wickedness and physical misfortune), gained a different position. Whereas according to the Creation Narratives of the book of Genesis God's creation is essentially good, evil in the world results from the moral evil-doing of the first parents which on their part had been motivated by a superhuman power, the devil disguised in the figure of a serpent. This, again, became the root for the history of salvation which climaxed in God's incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth who saved humankind from sin and death, evil and suffering. In his death Christ immerged into the depth of human wickedness and all comprising sufferings and pains. His suffering and death was pronounced as the redemption of all of us.

At the latest since European modern times the Christian message is blocked up to a high degree. We only have to recall three crimes and catastrophes of the 20th century which have been carried out or have been caused by human persons, Europeans and westerners who mostly had been baptized, and can be remembered with the city names: Auschwitz - the murder of Jews and other innocents - Hiroshima - the atomic bomb - and Tchernobyl - the contamination of the earth indicating the environmental menaces we are facing. All this occurred "after Christ"; it cannot be justified by any means, and it is still more difficult to process it inwardly. In Germany for a long time it was asked, "Is it possible to pray again after Auschwitz?"

Now it is one of the most significant habits of human nature that at first it does not feel guilty and puts the blame on someone else looking for a scapegoat. Ultimately this might be God who after all created this wicked world and, consequently, is responsible for it. Again, it is quite common that humans excuse themselves by making others responsible for their own wrongdoing, and that of course, mutually. Actually the way to God is finally closed. For what is called in technical terms

"theodicy," God's self-justification, failed - with the result that many people solved the contradiction between an apparently good God and a world which is suffering and in many points evil, by deciding that God is non-existent. "God is dead" is not only Nietzsche's loud exclamation; it is repeated by innumerable people, and - what is more important - they live accordingly. This happens although most of the people do not even ask what kind of God they actually reject, the God of philosophy or the God of Jesus Christ or what kind of God. "God" loses profile, but in the western world most people at least implicitly pretend that all people understand the same when they say "God." But we might presume that it is in all its vagueness still the "God" of Jewish-Christian monotheism. If this is the case, he simply must fail, if he had ever existed. But what counts: If God is really dead, "theodicy," the call for God's justification is being reversed into "anthropodicy," the call for man's own self-justification in view of all what happens in our wicked suffering world.

In fact anthropodicy is demanded in a world without God. Whatever happens, the responsibility falls back on the humans, their abilities and their weakness. However, where the single person cannot be called to account, new mechanisms of excuse are invented and introduced: environment, milieu, social coercion and control, psychic conditions etc. The search for some excuses finds its limits where the question of suffering changes from morally bad habits (Latin malum morale) to "naturally" negative occurrences (Latin malum physicum), natural catastrophes, floods, earthquakes, epidemics, illness, finally in the experience of death. Humans here face the remains of a self-understanding which is concentrated in man alone. Pure anthropocentrism does not make any sense; it ends in meaninglessness. For whatever we find or invent as arguments or excuses - the situation of suffering remains aporetic. However, because suffering is not only to be accepted and to be endured, human persons search for explanations, but even more for ways out of the suffering: "Deliver us from evil!"

In Christianity the "memory of passion" is no longer simply a ritual celebrated in view of Christ crucified. Theologians of Asia and Latin America forced us not to close the eyes in view of the numerous people suffering throughout the world, victims of oppression, starvation, epi demics, persecution, poverty and other forms of distress. In view of Asia Aloysius Pieris states:3

The poor (the destitute, the dispossessed, the displaced, and the discriminated) who form the bulk of Asian people, plus their specific brand of cosmic religiosity, constitute a school where many Christian activists reeducate themselves in the art of speaking the language of God's Reign, that is, the language of liberation which God spoke through Jesus. Neither the academic nor the pastoral magisterium is conversant with this evangelical idiom.

STORIES OF SEARCH

Suffering is no timeless experience; it produces reactions in the life of all living beings, especially humans. They can be found in all biographies and evolve in the stories of suffering. Where people have tried to overcome suffering, they are searching, so that the stories of suffering become at once stories of search. This is clear where people in their reflection are not only concerned with the past, but open to them the future. For even if a person likes to overcome his suffering here and now in this moment, he must be interested that his rescue does not last only for the present moment, but that it continues into the future.

A first question is: Is a human person able to overcome suffering with his own energy and power, so that he reaches the state of painlessness, or does he have to rely by all means on others and their help? Where human existence as such is sustained by suffering, suffering affects him in his totality, in the unity of spirit, soul and body. In this view extreme bodily pain is equally suffering as the experience of radical meaninglessness which can be passed over in various ways, by using drugs, being immerged in consumptive ways of life or by living simply in the present.

When we speak about stories of search, we look for instances of consciously done search as we find it with philosophers, painters and other artists, and all the more for a search which occurs in the course of every day's life, as e.g. described in the parables of the treasure buried in a field or of the search of fine pearls (cf. Mt 13: 44ff.). The Pol

3 See A. Pieris, Fire and Water, Orbis: Maryknoll, N.Y. 1996, p.156; also H. Waldenfels (note 1), pp.67-72.

ish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski describes the world of today as follows:4

The world of today is no world in which people live content in their certainty, delighted, and established in their belief or unbelief. It is rather the era of people dislodged, refugees, exiled, strolling and wandering about, of the "eternal Jews" who search for the lost -spiritual or physical - homeland. In their nomadic life nothing is certain anymore, nothing guaranteed, nothing finally determined, nothing unquestionably given - except wandering.

Here again religions have their place. As mentioned before, their real strength evolves where they display their ability to accompany people on the road and open up paths which lead to the overcoming of suffering and the fulfillment of meaning. It is noticeable that in our day people are less interested in religious doctrines than in practical instructions to find a way. We know about the importance of insights, of guidance in meditative methods, of regaining the middle, the center point of life, and of impulses to persevere where the goal remains rather concealed.

One point has to be emphasized: Where people fall back on themselves, they remain alone. As long as people are searching, the power of hope is effective in them that sometime they might find and reach the aim of life. On Chinese drawings repeatedly we come across the motive of searching. On a drawing depicted by the famous Japanese Zen master Hakuin (1685-1768) two blind men grope their way over a suspension-bridge which bridges two sides of an abyss - they do it in the hope to reach the other shore.

As Kolakowski muses, people can find companionship in searching. Companions might be believers or non-believers - decisive is that they do not give up. What unites people beyond the borderlines of their religious affiliation, ought not to separate them inside the borderlines of their religion. Who honestly and sincerely searches, may count on sym-pathy - the feeling that others suffer together with each other. In Judaism and Christianity we should be aware of the fact that the Greek word for compassion and mercy remind us of the mother's womb.

4 In: W. Rössner, Der nahe und der ferne Gott. Nichttheologische Texte. Berlin 1981, p. 91.

Corto Maltese

Watercolor drawing painted by Zen Master Hakuin (1685-1768): "Blind people grope their way over a bridge."

In Mahayana Buddhism Kuan-yin (Jap Kannon) as woman has become the expression of infinite compassion with many eyes and hands. Actually in Buddhism compassion represents the other side of Buddhist perfection which cannot be satisfied with wisdom alone. Com-passion which overflows the unsaved world, and wisdom, the true insight of enlightenment, are two sides of the one experience of fulfillment.

However, the search of a way is by no means only an interior quest, but can be and has to be pursued as well on the roads under our feet and by turning to history in its reality. Quite a few people find the aim of their life by listening to the witness of other experienced people. Christians can be convinced that in history often an encounter occurs between those who still grope for their way, and others who already became martyrs, witnesses in the literal sense: men and women who gave witness for their faith unto death by shedding even their blood. We cannot forget Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero who was murdered on March 24, 1980 during his mass, Ignacio Ellacuria SJ and his companions who were brutally killed on November 16, 1989 by members of the Salvadorian army, also the great number of Chinese Christians who suffered in so called educational camps or lived under severe pressures and observation; many of whom have died.

Actually we experience both at the same time, searching and witnessing, often with the same people. Frequently, stories of search continue as stories of companionship between people of different origin who share some stretches of the road. They suffer together, search together and work for solutions together. In Christianity an increasing number of faithful perceive the Church as an assembly of companions on the road following Christ, and thus Christian existence turns into a kind of companionship.

However, because the following of Christ means to live and to realize always in concrete situations of real history, also Christology as reflection on Jesus Christ and his significance in history has to become a new invitation to a renewed Christopractise. Christology cannot limit itself to a speculative reflection on and understanding of God's incarnation and the constitution of Jesus Christ being "truly God and truly man." It has to struggle for the restoration for the "way of Christ" realized in the life practice of his followers today. In this sense Christology itself has to become a "searching Christology."

STORIES OF PROMISE

Where searching persons meet with witnesses, it comes to an encounter of those who ask, and those who answer, and a new companionship is formed. Witnesses live a little bit ahead of those who simply search; this results from the fact that - in Jewish-Christian terms - witnesses - martyrs - are living from a promise which opens up the present for a positive future. In promises, as we understand them here, God gives his word that in all catastrophes we can expect a positive, favorable end. Even if they do not use the word, also other religions live from promises. For searching is only meaningful, if there is at least implicitly a horizon of expectation that there is meaning to everything and that we reach fulfillment. In this sense we speak about promises in a wide sense.

There is something else connected with the promise or with promises. Whereas searching essentially implies an active doing from the human side, the emphasis in promise is different. In this case man is, first of all, somebody who is addressed by someone else, and thus he is a person who receives. Different from the situation of active doing we can speak of "undergoing," in a way of a certain form of passivity. However, here "passivity" does not imply an unequivocally negative conno-

tation. Therefore, it is not to be mistaken for the suffering we were dealing with before. In Christian mysticism it is not strange to speak about "bearing God" (see in German "Gott-Leiden" [A.M.Haas]).5 Promise is essentially an opening up of what is ahead to us. Here we have to keep in mind the distinction between a future which is mostly constructed and shaped by human work, and a future which is approaching us, and which we fear and hope for - we speak about "advent"

To fear and to hope for - that is to say: Whatever people are waiting for is of different character; it might be blissful or condemning. Actually in most religions the future expectations are by no means only filled positively. Even in modern Christian history the relation of performance and reward was quite popular in regard to future expectations. Evil-doers had to expect the severe fate of being condemned; to doers of good the gates of paradise were opened. Pictures of heaven and hell were by no means restricted to medieval paintings of the final judgment; they are also part of Asian iconography.

The avoidance of a conclusive decision which we find in the process of reincarnation was mentioned before. Another attempt to dismiss all future prognostic is to be realized where people believe that everything is over with death. But even in those days when people think that they are permitted to dispose about everything, even about their own life, the question what comes after death does not cease. Therefore, there are the questions about this side and yonder side, finite and infinite. Questions like these have their own history. For yonder, infinite, eternity belong to all religions which offer an all-comprising frame of life for all human existence.

However, the religions do not reply to these questions in the same way. In the most popular view we are on the road as long as we live - a goal in front of us. But this goal remains and is given to us only as a promise. Jürgen Moltmann6 has introduced the history of the Jews as a story of promise where its fulfillment included the dissolution of the search. Consequently, for quite a long time promise and fulfillment were the two pillars of the fundamental scheme in which Christians considered also the relationship between the Old and New Testament. Where, however, in the New Testament the speech about promise was

5 See A.M. Haas, Gottleiden - Gottlieben. Insel: Frankfurt 1989

6 See J. Moltmann, Theology of Hope. Harper & Row: New York 1967.

filled with the announcement of the kingdom of God, something new sprang up. The more Jesus connected the arrival of the kingdom with his own person, the stronger became the tension between "already (present)" and "not yet (present)." In recent times this tension has been made a point of debate again with good reasons.

Jon Sobrino - as others before him - has called attention to the fact that in early Christianity the content of Christ's preaching, the announcement of the kingdom of God almost disappeared. It is a matter of fact that already in the letters of St. Paul the term lost its decisive role. In Christ the kingdom had arrived. Consequently full attention focused on the person of Christ, his coming, his existence, later on his constitution, his intimate connection with God the Father, finally the language and the terminologies in which all this finds an appropriate expression. The Church Fathers and the Fathers of the early councils found in Greek terminologies ways of bridging the gaps of understanding. All this was helpful, but to some sense we have to admit that Christ's concrete message of the kingdom of God fell into oblivion. The new awareness of the poor in today's world evokes again the question of the kingdom of God.7 Where the kingdom in view of Jesus of Nazareth is at once understood as present and as coming in the future, two extremes come into view as soon as we try to dissolve the two sides of the tension.

(1) Where the promise is taken as being fulfilled merely in the future, the message of the kingdom will be reduced to mere consolation. The world is a "vale of tears," is only preliminary; we have to suffer through it, but ultimately cannot change it. The message becomes timeless and has no bearing on the concrete history and its realities. We have to ask ourselves to what extent certain forms of religious spirituality, Christian spirituality included, are shaped by this timeless attitude so that it prepares people only for a life to come but not for an liberating engagement here on earth. In fact for a long time spiritual life was an invitation to a radical contempt of the world and a complete retirement from it.

(2) Where, however, the promise is been understood as already fulfilled in the present and that the kingdom of God has come, it becomes a strong invitation to cooperate that it will be fully realized here and now and that it becomes visible on the various fields of life on which

7 See in more detail J. Sobrino, Christ the Liberator. Orbis: Maryknoll, N.Y. 2001.

it should appear - in overcoming poverty and oppression, in realizing justice, truth, solidarity and peace - so that it fits the basic demands in human life and society. In this case not withdrawal from, but a turning to the world is called for.

That this view does not separate Christians and other believers can be gathered from the fact that a modern slogan about road and goal claims: "The road is the goal" Or in the words of India and of Buddhism: "Samsara is Nirvana." Whereas samsara is the perishable world, nirvana is the state of painlessness and deathlessness which is reached where all kind of attachments are overcome. In order to reach this state, man has not to die physically, as also in Christianity redemption is not attained at the best in death, but as soon as a person is immerged into the death of Christ by baptism and is raised with him from the dead (see Rom 6:1-11). What the togetherness of samsara and nirvana signifies in the light of Christian baptismal understanding, and vice versa what dying with Christ in baptism truly means to Asian-Hindu-Buddhist thought, has hardly been considered. In any case Hindus, Buddhists and Christians and the adherents of other religions as well, wherever they live on the road of following the inner call und try to live accordingly in the practice of life, they walk in the truth, even if they do not know all about the preliminaries of their lives in theory. Here also the great nearness which mystics of the various religions have felt for each other is grounded. We also understand that religious persons more and more yearn for an exchange of experiences and impulses. In other words, they ask: What are concretely the promises by which people shape their way of life? And what are the actions to which promises invite us?

STORIES OF SALVATION

The content of promises can be described in terms like happiness and harmony, light and insight, redemption, liberation and freedom, peace and community, painlessness, healing, salvation and love. Terms like these, sometimes also metaphors, we find in the various religions with different accents and strong points. Certainly we should not conceal that many blissful imaginations had been darkened by the threats of the final judgment and the possibility of ultimate failure; they ought not to be simply suppressed even today. We are living in hope, not in knowledge and certainty, and we do not dispose about what will come.

Therefore, everywhere people ask: "What shall I do so that I succeed with my life?" In German the words for "luck" (= Glueck) and "to succeed' (= gluecken) come from the same root. Whoever had the chance to celebrate Chinese New Year, will remember that wherever he goes, he will come across one pictorial symbol: the pictograph for "happiness" = fu in its various combinations: success, luck, fortune, happiness - all of these are loosely interconnected. In the "Far East" - as we westerners use to call it, although also this is a question of perspective - people yearn for peace which appears where the polarity of yin and yang is balanced in harmony and the hearts of people are open for each other.

And yet, what unites all people in desire and effort might differ in different tribes and nations, cultures and religions, in their startingpoint and their history. When today human persons happily discover many common points between the different peoples from different re-

Brief explanation of the Chinese pictograph "fu " {tra)

The left side (originally contains the meaning of the pictograph; it stands for the divine, the influence of heaven, the promising sign from above by which heaven manifests the will. The two horizontal strokes H refer to the old form of

_h, which represents "heaven" (literally "above, highest"). The three vertical strokes signify things hanging on the sky: sun, moon and the stars; they manifest the transcendent.

The right side of the pictograph indicates the phonetic meaning and determines the pronunciation. It signifies "superfluity" and consists in the combination of the abbreviated sign for "high" (¡fij) and "field" (IB). Also heaping up the fruits of the fields symbolizes superfluity.

gions and races, this implies, first and for all, that even those who differ in thought, speech and language, in appearance and conduct, are nevertheless human beings. And we must sadly admit that what for us is a matter of fact, had to be learnt in the era of discoveries by Europeans. The conquerors of that time did by no means treat the inhabitants of the newly discovered American countries as human beings since they were neither white nor baptized.

If all that is no question anymore for us, and we know that in all our diversities we live in the one boat of human race, we still are allowed to ask where all the diversities come from? What causes the otherness between us? Wherever we compare, we tend, first, to think in terms of putting above and below which leads to a ranking of superior and inferior, and, secondly, we are inclined to estimate one's own qualitatively higher and better than that of others. This again often produces a sense of superiority and dominion. For many centuries wars were the instrument to enlarge the zone of influence and might; consequently other countries were conquered and subjected by force. Today's peace research is focused on exploring the motives of wars and violence and on developing methods of how to handle conflicts; one section of research is concerned with religions as causes for conflicts and wars and their contribution to peace, too.

Considering the dark sides of history we may even ask: To what extent are religions really ways for guiding and bringing humans to happiness? How far do they liberate them from suffering, and lead them to healing and salvation? In what sense are they able to make them free in a comprehensive manner? Christians including the official Church cannot but concede that terms like "salvation" and "invitation to salvation" are also used by others. For the desire of happiness and the promise of ways guiding to happiness and salvation leads beyond the realm of Christian influence. How the Christian understanding of the history of salvation is related to the promises of salvation found in other religions, is still being discussed.

Rather harshly the notification about Jacques Dupuis n.8 stated that the assertion that other religions, "considered as such, are ways of salvation, has no foundation in Catholic theology." Here we have to distinguish: It is true, Catholic theology may in view of its self-estimation conclude that salvation attained in other religions, too, is objectively related to the saving action of Jesus Christ. However, that does not mean that other religions from their self-estimation are prohibited to offer themselves as ways of salvation or ways leading to salvation. Theology should even less prohibit this conviction, since according to nr.8 the Holy Spirit efforts salvation through elements of truth and goodness which are present in other religions.

Quarreling whether different from the salvation obtained by Jesus Christ and independent from him other ways of salvation exist, is of less importance than the common conviction that all religions contain rays of truth and goodness and a sense of the "holy" which can be and actually is instrumental for the attainment of divine salvation. Ultimately it does not matter what interpretations say, but only that full salvation is given by God's grace, not withstanding the necessary cooperation from human side. Moreover, the radical and total self-communication of God in Jesus Christ which Christians believe in will persist even if people only know about and believe in the gift of salvation and liberation, but not about the ultimate foundation of God's salvific revelation. That also other religions intend to lead on ways of salvation and thus become "ways of salvation," cannot be contested by Christians and should not become a cause of dispute any longer.

With good reasons Gerhard Gade interprets the first two verses of the letter to the Hebrews in a broader sense.8 When the author of the letter writes:

In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, he certainly was thinking about the Jews who were living in the time before Christ. These phrases, however, Gade is inclined to understand with regard to the entire history of religions. Actually - analogously to the prologue of the Gospel of John - God's word is nothing but the one Word, the Logos which "became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14):

Many times and in diverse ways - in fact, so often and in so diverse ways, as men exist who are full of hope and confidence, they speak of God and testify the promise of eternal life, God's word is coming to men. And yet, it is only one word. The beginning of the letter to the Hebrews by no means intends to make the speaking "through

8 See G. Gäde, Viele Religionen - ein Wort. Bertelsmann: Gütersloh 1998; quote p. 360.

the son" a further link in a long and maybe preliminary speech. God has rather spoken through the one who is "the refulgence of his glory and the very imprint of his being" (Hebr 1:3).

In addition, regarding the missionary announcement we might ask: Who can prevent people from talking about their happiness and their conviction that God has opened the way to salvation for all people? With reference to the "one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human" in 1 Tim 2:3ff it is said, that it "is good and pleasing to God our savior who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth." I ask again: Who will prevent Christians from speaking frankly about their happiness, all the more so when they want to share it with all other people? And the same counts conversely. Who wishes to prevent people of other faiths from speaking about their way to liberation and fulfillment? We might well ask ourselves whether we necessarily have to speak about the uniqueness of God's unequaled self-communication in Jesus of Nazareth, so that all people who do not believe in Christ feel humiliated and at the end are excluded from salvation. I personally am convinced that all this is unnecessary and that the argumentation in the notification does not reach far enough.

Moreover, as mentioned before, "salvation" is not originally a Christian term. Its meaning is less clear than we should presuppose for a word so frequently used. Christians surely have to examine their understanding of it; for it does not bring us any further if we level down the understanding of salvation. However, before we dispute the good will of other people and their basic insight that grace and salvation is also offered to them, we should watch out for the traces of openness for the Deus semper minor, semper maior, for God who makes himself little for us and, in spite of it, remains the greater God above all our imagination. In fact, he is working also in people who have not joined the Church and live in other religions. However, who is this God - for us Christians and for those who do not believe in Christ?

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