Defending Your Faith 101: Religious Pluralism?

Day One: What is Religious Pluralism?

Religious pluralism: The view, in our culture today, that all religions, and forms of spirituality, are equally valid and have paths that lead to god and heaven (i.e., co-exist bumper stickers). Some will narrow that view down to just the major or ethical religions, and some will expand it with the mantra: “being a good person will get you to heaven.”

“I remember when I was 10 years old, I asked my mother, ‘If there’s only one God, why are there so many religions?’ I’ve been pondering that question ever since, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that all religions are true.”  

-George Lucas, Film Director (Star Wars Fame)

Listen to the “One Minute Apologist” explain the view of Religious Pluralism:


Are all religions true? Do all religions and beliefs ultimately lead to God and Heaven?

Many non-Christians would say yes, just like Mr. Lucas, but what do Christians believe?

Surveys report that…

57% of Evangelical Christians say yes

54% of Conservative Protestant teens say yes

This is an amazingly high number for people who profess to be Christians (followers of Christ Jesus)!

If you also answered yes to that question you would be supporting the view of religious pluralism, or some would call it inclusivism, which at its surface sounds like an honorable thing to promote, because most people don’t want to say that someone else is not going to heaven or is destined for hell (that is a topic we will cover in another post a few weeks from now).

Let’s look at what people are saying on the streets that evidence our culture’s pluralistic view:

If you answered no to the question: “Do all religions ultimately lead to God and Heaven?” And, you answered yes to Jesus as the only way to Heaven, you are probably characterized as intolerant or an exclusivist. But what do those words really mean?

Truth vs. tolerance

Tolerance [of all beliefs] is the battle cry for what our culture today calls social justice. They proclaim: “Our society must be tolerant of all people, faiths, and ideas.” But, is this to be done at the sacrifice of truth? If you are a Christian you, or someone you know, have probably been told that you are intolerant because of a particular viewpoint you hold that is based on Biblical teachings.

Tolerance, by definition, means “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” Unfortunately our culture has changed the opposing definition of intolerance (disagreeing with, or not willing to accept, an opposing opinion or behavior) to mean that you are bigoted, phobic, ignorant, or something worse.

Christianity, upon close examination, fits the definition of a tolerant religion more than any other. We are taught to love others in truth (1 John 3:1-24), and to give a reason for the confidence that we have (1 Peter 3:15), sharing that faith with everyone (Matthew 28:19, John 3:16), in hopes that no one is lost and all will come to faith in Christ Jesus (Luke 19:10, Romans 3:22-26).

Let’s take a closer look at what Religious Pluralism under the banner of tolerance is really teaching:

Religious pluralism…

  • promotes tolerance of all religious beliefs as if they are equally true (often with the exception of Christianity)
  • lays claim to being “politically correct” because we don’t want to offend anyone (even with the truth)
  • denies objective truth and promotes a type of relativism
  • rejects the exclusive claims made by Jesus
  • rejects the exclusive teachings of the Bible
  • falls under the religious institution know as “Universalism”
  • opens up a ‘smorgasbord’ approach to faith: “I like some of Christianity, but not all, I’ll take a little from Islam, and a whole lot from Hinduism, and if I am a good person God can’t possibly turn me away from Heaven”

What about truth? Can Religious Pluralism be true?

Truth, as we have learned, by definition is that which corresponds to reality. The problem with pluralism’s approach is a logical one. In his book “God Among Sages” Kenneth Richard Samples, Adjunct Professor at Biola University, demonstrates that a pluralistic worldview contradicts three foundational “Laws of Logical Thought:”

The Law of Noncontradiction A thing A cannot be both A and equal non-A Nothing can both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect. A statement cannot be both true and false at the same time and in the same respect.
The Law of Excluded Middle A thing A is either A or non-A Something either is or is not. A statement is either true or false.
The Law of Identity A is A A thing (person, event, judgment) is what it is. A true statement is true.

So which view is logically correct: All religions ultimately lead to the same God and Heaven or Jesus is the only way?

Less than a hundred years ago the majority of Americans would never have argued the truth claims of Christianity and its guiding compass of morality in our nation. But today, having had a presidential proclamation that we are no longer a ‘Christian nation,’ we find ourselves left with the politically correctness of religious pluralism.

  • Remember the Road Runner tactic? We can ask these questions: Is the view of ‘religious pluralism’ the only view that is true? Is ‘religious pluralism’ intolerant of the Christian view?
  • Anyone who holds a particular belief, even religious pluralism, is claiming to hold exclusive truth about that belief therefore making even religious pluralism an intolerant view.
  • All religious beliefs can be false, but they cannot all be true based on the Laws of Logic.

As Christians we believe the truth is that Jesus is the only way (John 14:6), but what are the other religions and faiths saying? Join us next week as we answer that question.

Reflection:

  1. Why do you think so many Christians answered yes to the question: Do all religions ultimately lead to God and Heaven? How do you answer that question and why?
  2. How does Religious Pluralism break the laws of logical thought?
  3. Prayer focus: The meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, and why it is the only way to eternal life.

For a more in-depth study on this topic, listen to this presentation by Dr. William Lane Craig:

Please continue to pray for God’s peace and comfort that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:4-7) for Nabeel Qureshi’s family, and the continued ministry of his wife Michelle. In God’s will and Jesus’ Name always we pray, Amen.

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You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in!  Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.

Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.

Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.

Teri Dugan

TeriDugan@truthfaithandreason.com

1 Peter 3:15

 

3 Responses to Defending Your Faith 101: Religious Pluralism?

  1. My girls are currently going through the Lightbearers curriculum from Summit Ministries; I think I’m going to use your posts on defending your faith as a way to continue going over what they are learning. Thank you for these!

  2. Great message! Thanks for sharing. I’m beyond sad that many evangelical Christians said, “yes” to the question on religious pluralism 😔

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