“Religious Pluralism (popular form, not academic) rejects the premise that God has revealed himself in any unique or definitive sense in Jesus Christ. On the contrary, God is said to be actively revealing himself in all religious traditions… Christian faith is merely one of many equally legitimate human responses to the same divine reality. John Hick is the most well-known figure from this position.
Followers of this pluralism (pluralists) believe in two or more religious worldviews as being equally valid or acceptable. More than mere tolerance, religious pluralism accepts multiple paths to God or gods as a possibility and is usually contrasted with an “exclusivism,” the idea that there is only one true religion or way to know God.
Pluralist: Yesterday I was reading the Bible and I must say, I think it makes some arrogant and intolerant claims.
Christian: I am glad you did. What claims do you have in mind?
Pluralist: Well, for example, this guy, John, writes that Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” and then a bit later in a book called Acts I’ve read, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Do you take this seriously?
Christian: Yes, what is the problem?
Pluralist: Don’t you see? It’s so exclusive. You are saying that only the Christian faith is right and all those people who believe otherwise are wrong.
Christian: Oh, I see.
Pluralist: We should tolerate our differences and be more humble in presenting our absolute truths. After all, all religions lead to the same God. It is not right to try to convert people to your own beliefs and disrupt their tradition.
Christian: This is a little bit confusing.
Pluralist: What is?
Christian: Well, you’ve just said that it’s not right to try to convert people to your own beliefs and disrupt their tradition.
Pluralist: Right, and?
Christian: It seems to me that you are trying to convert me to your belief and disrupt my tradition.
Pluralist: Perhaps, but this is different. I am not trying to show you some other belief system.
Christian: I am afraid that may be exactly what you are doing. As I follow you, you are suggesting that only the absolute truth of Pluralism is right and all those people who believe otherwise are wrong. This seems somewhat exclusive.
Pluralist: I haven’t thought about it in such a way. Still, but I am not arrogant to your religion. I’ve met many Christians who were rude to others and self-importantly insisted that they were right.
Christian: Yes, you probably have, and I would like to apologize for those kinds of Christians. Such behavior actually runs counter to the life and teachings of Jesus. However, even then, just because someone is arrogant it doesn’t make him or her wrong. You have surely met arrogant people elsewhere – like your boss, or perhaps your math teacher or your older brother? They may actually talked arrogantly down to you BECAUSE they had the right answer. It probably wasn’t nice, but it doesn’t mean they were wrong.
Pluralist: So what are you trying to say?
Christian: Simply that the question of truth needs to be separated from attitudes like arrogance or humbleness.
Pluralist: That makes sense.
Christian: I do not mean to push you but I see a problem when you say that all religions lead to the same God.
Pluralist: That’s okay, what do you have in mind?
Christian: It is that many religions make contradicting claims about God. Buddhism, for example, doesn’t believe in God. Islam teaches an impersonal monotheism, Allah. The Koran states that God reveals His will, but not His person. Christianity teaches a personal trinitarianism, where God is three persons in relationship, Father-Son-Spirit that can be known and enjoyed. Hinduism varies on this question, ranging from polytheism to atheism.
Pluralist: Please continue.
Christian: When you say that all religions lead to the same God, it seems to be inaccurate. By minimizing religions and not recognizing their differences and nuances, you throw them all in one pot as if it didn’t really matter. You make religions submit to pluralism despite the fact that this isn’t what they teach. This is neither prudent, nor tolerant.
Pluralist: Why isn’t it tolerant?
Christian: Let me explain through my own faith. While I humbly try to persuade others to believe in Jesus, I recognize, respect and honor the various differences between religions as they are. We attempt to accommodate the differences, allowing people to believe whatever they want. Religious pluralism doesn’t allow this kind of tolerance and blunts the distinctions between the religions.
Pluralist: Interesting. I will have to take some time to think about all this. Take care.
Christian: Of course, this is not an easy subject. Have a great day.
written by Peter Makovíni
Pow! There Goes A ……… Down series title isn’t intended to be arrogant, only catchy. See also other articles from the series about a Naturalist, Atheist, Sceptic or Jehovah’s Witnesses, Horus Myth, Mithra Myth)