Miroslav Volf considers what it means for world religions to lay claim to universal truth.
Christian faith is a missionary faith. I think that’s built into the character of Christian faith, as its self-understanding as making claims to truth. Jesus Christ said: “I am the truth, I am the life, I am the way.”
Other world religions are also kind of universal religions. They make claim to universal truth. Buddhism is; Buddhism does not consider itself true simply for a few people who are presently Buddhists, but it’s true universally. So does Islam. So there is a kind of missionary tendency expressed in varieties of way in all world religions, that’s why they’re called world religions.
Christian faith obviously has a missionary impulse. I think the fundamental question is, how does one exercise that missionary impulse? Is it with the power of the sword in the name of some political entity that seeks to colonise the entire planet? Those tendencies have been present in the Christian faith. Or does missionary activity happen in the mode of proclamation, in the mode of bearing witness, in the mode of living out of one’s faith? And I think it’s not difficult to show that the authentic mission is a mission that bears witness – not so much to itself and to Christianity, but bears witness to God, God revealed in Jesus Christ, who is the key to humanity.