Summary: Defending the Christian faith against religious pluralism and tolerance.
1. Answering Religious Pluralism
Also called tolerance.
2. Defining Pluralism
· “Traditional tolerance (Social Pluralism) is now referred to as negative tolerance. This is defined as ‘respecting others beliefs and practices without sharing them,’ or ‘to bear or put up with something not especially liked.’ “The new tolerance (Religious Pluralism) is called positive tolerance, which says this: every single individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyle, and truth claims are equal.” —Josh McDowell
Many take a “politically correct” view of religion.
It is “intolerant” to speak of exclusive truth. Or knowing truth. Or claiming that your beliefs are true while others beliefs and not true. It is “intolerant” to say that Hinduism is a false religion, or that Islam does not serve the true God- Allah is not the god.
What is truth to a pluralist?
“Pluralists say the truth is a “social construction.” It is created through social consensus and tradition, not discovered in reality that exists independently of our beliefs. Truth is subjective interpretation, not correspondence between our beliefs and reality.”
Learning how to share the exclusive claims of Christ in a Pluralistic society.
After 9/11 Bush called for a National Day of Prayer and encouraged people of all faiths to pray. And two interfaith memorial services were held.
3. Do All Religions Lead to God?
· Sept. 14, 2001 National Cathedral
A prayer was offered to…
“the God of Abraham, the God of Muhammad, and the Father of Jesus Christ.”
· Oprah Winfrey led the service in New York and boldly declared, “all people pray to the same God.”
4. Democracy and Truth
· The Bill of Rights
It guarantees American citizens the right to free exercise of religion.
· The Problem
Some people take the notion of equal toleration of religious expression to mean that all religions are equally true.
-What is truth?
· Truth by definition is exclusive.
Christ made a most reasonable claim when he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NIV).
All world religions make exclusive claims!
5. Are All Religions True?
· Three Important Considerations:
A). All Religions are superficially the same and fundamentally different.
1. Each religion has its form of the “Golden Rule.”
2. What is the nature of God?
a. One God- monotheism (Christianity) (Islam)
b. Many gods- polytheism (many religions, also Hinduism)
c. All is God- pantheism (Hinduism also polytheistic) (Buddhism)
d. Some no God- atheism (Naturalism)
-In Judaism and Islam, God is personal (and singular).
-In Christianity, God is more than personal and singular (he is
super-personal and triune).
-In Hinduism and Buddhism, God is less than personal and singular (he is
a-personal and diffuse). Hinduism also teaches a personal/non-personal
3. What is mankind’s ultimate problem? Why are we inclined to do
Is it Sin, Ignorance, Un-enlightenment.
For a pantheist, we do wrong because we suffer from cosmic amnesia, we forget that we are really god.
Naturalism, says we are all born with “blank slates.” We are the product of genetics and environment.
Christ says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Matthew 15:19 (NIV)
B). All religions are so diverse in belief and world-view they cannot be reduced
to a common theme.
1. “There is a growing consensus that it is seriously misleading to regard the various religious traditions of the world as variations on a single theme.” Alister McGrath
2. Salvation – a single salvific theme?
Can the world religions be reduced to a common theme of salvation?
3. The problems-
a. What is the proper response toward “God”?
- Faith, Works, Meditation
b. What are we being “saved” from?
- Sin, Ignorance, Un-enlightenment
c. What are we being “saved” to?
- Heaven, Ultimate Oneness with god, Paradise with 70 virgins (kill 3,000), our own planet with many celestial wives, Inheriting the earth, etc.
C). Formal laws of logic demonstrate the impossibility that all religious truth
claims are at the same time true.
6. The Law of Noncontradiction
· If a statement is absolutely contradictory, without qualification, that statement cannot be true. A cannot equal A and non-A.
Ex. It cannot be a cold, hot day
Also, many world religions have points of contradiction within themselves.
Ex. Hinduism teaches a personal/ non-personal God/gods.
· This law adequately explains reality.
- Jesus cannot be God incarnate (Christianity) and not be God
incarnate (Judaism, Islam).
Contradictory religious claims have opposite truth-value, meaning that they negate or deny each other. Therefore exactly one is true and the other false.
Also, it is one or the other; there is no middle position that is possible. (The law of excluded middle: either A or non-A). It cannot be both/and.