Religious Pluralism

Over the past few years, I’ve come across many people – some claiming to be religious – who are either surprised or shocked at my arrogance in believing that Christianity is the highest and truest revelation of God and that nobody comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. Why is this?

I’m certain that one major reason is the fact that today, most people are unhappy to subscribe to the idea that there may be any such thing as Absolute Truth. It’s ironic that those who go so far as to claim that there’s no such thing as an Absolute Truth actually have to introduce one to ‘prove’ their case. (1)  This has resulted in a pervasive relativism taking hold of people’s minds, especially when it comes to ‘religion’. Consequently, the prevalent view in Western culture is that all religions are equally valid (or increasingly, invalid).
 
Closely connected with such commonly held views is the modern tendency to worship at the altar of the great god “Choice”.  We can choose between hundreds of TV and radio stations, soap powders, DVDs, etc, etc.  We can even choose to ‘terminate’, (that is, kill) an unborn child in its mother’s womb. Yes, even this, for many people, seems quite reasonable. So why shouldn’t people choose their religion in much the same way that they might choose a football team to support? 

Anyway, I digress; back to my big gripe! “What makes you so sure you’ve got the truth?” people will say, often getting a little hot under the collar, whilst their tone of voice suggests that they think I’m being unreasonable.  I respond by trying to give some reasons for my faith (1 Peter 3:15), but admit to them that I may be wrong in all kinds of details.  After all, I tell them, we’re talking about faith, but I believe by faith and intend to stand by the faith which God has given me.

Unfortunately, most ‘reasonable’ people who confront me with their religious pluralism are often not willing to admit that they may be wrong at all! They seem to automatically take the high ground and assume from the outset that their stance is the only reasonable position to take. Such people, who will not nail their colours to any particular mast, but will – chameleon like – defend (or sometimes attack!) everything and anything are never, ever wrong on religious matters.  Of course, not holding any particular religious view means there’s nothing about which they could be mistaken!

If I get the chance to continue such conversations, I ask the person in question whether they hold a political view. Mostly, they’ll answer in the affirmative and tell me of their political affiliations, their support for the Liberal Democrats for example.  I then ask them why the views of the BNP are not just as valid as the LibDems (2).  This usually makes them very cross! “But” I say, “surely, all political viewpoints are equally valid; you can’t seriously be claiming that yours is the only ‘true’ or ‘right’ way?”  Most people haven’t thought this far down the road of reasonableness!  

After such exchanges, I think I’ve always managed to part with people in a friendly manner, although I’ve no idea what they may say behind my back afterwards (but sometimes I could hazard a guess).  All I hope and pray for are opportunities and the courage (it’s so easy to just ‘cop out’) to debunk the mythology that says that all religions are equally valid wherever and whenever I can.
(1) This is to say, that when a person claims there is no such thing as an absolute truth, they are breaking a fundamental law of logical argument and undermining their own position by a contradiction. Their ‘absolute truth’ is that there is no such thing as an absolute truth!  The principle behind such a position is similar (though a reverse) of the one lying behind the ‘all religions are equally valid’ argument. Today, those who think this way are seen as eminently reasonable, whilst the conservative evangelical is usually portrayed as a blinkered ‘fundamentalist’ who may even be dangerous!

(2) In fact, this argument can be taken all the way to the Nazis and the ‘final solution’

  1. Unfortunately, most ‘reasonable’ people who confront me with their religious pluralism are often not willing to admit that they may be wrong at all! They seem to automatically take the high ground and assume from the outset that their stance is the only reasonable position to take.

    A friend of mine sees the irony when he says:

    Every view point is valid. Except one — and that view point being the only Way to heaven is through Jesus Christ the Saviour.

    Vee

  2. Oh and you may like these quotes:

    The ONLY ABSOLUTE TRUTH is that there are NO ABSOLUTE TRUTHS (Feyerabend)

    Finally, if nothing can be truly asserted, even the following claim would be false, the claim that there is no true assertion. (Aristotle)

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