Tag Archives: pluralism

Jesus & Pluralism

Religious pluralism can have more than one meaning. Sometimes it means nothing more than the religious freedom which is so much a part of our American heritage. But in recent years it has come to mean much more than anything envisioned by our forefathers. I once received a letter from a man objecting to my stance on a particular issue. His concern was not as to whether I was right or wrong but rather as he put it, “We live in a pluralistic society.” By this he did not simply mean that we have freedom of religion in our country but rather that we should not suggest another person’s belief may actually be wrong.

Today, religious pluralism has come to mean that all beliefs are equally valid, that is, what one man believes is right for him and if another man believes the very opposite, it too is right. One religious belief is just as true as another. In the broadest sense of post-modernism, religious pluralism rejects the idea that one religion is true and all others false but rather holds that all the world religions are to be accepted as equally true. In a more limited sense within the confines of Christendom, religious pluralism means that all the denominations with their different beliefs and practices are acceptable. Thus we hear such statements as: “There are many different roads that lead to heaven;” or “Attend the church of your choice.”

But what is Jesus’ stance on religious pluralism? Hear what he has to say: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) And again Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6).


Christian Intolerance

In our pluralistic society the one thing that cannot be tolerated is intolerance. People seem to miss the contradiction in their own idea of intolerance. Christianity has always been intolerant of certain things. Consider for example the following passages:

Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

This Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands. (Acts 19:26)

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called with one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

The first century society was one of moral and religious tolerance. The early Christians were out of step with the society in which they lived. And so are we.