I’ve just started reading Dan Story – Christianity on the offense, and although I am still only in the first section, I am already challenged.
The book is basically addressing the multitude of religions that are within our modern society and how society tolerates different religions. It provokes many thoughts and challenges relating to how we, as a society are leaning towards pluralism.
The challenge for me is, am I conforming to the ways society sees religions and allowing myself to tolerate and co-exist with other religions even though I believe there is only one God and one way to God, which is through Jesus?
What is Pluralism
Religious pluralism, a term used to describe the acceptance of all religious paths as equally valid, promoting coexistence. wiki
We can see evidence of this even in our own Government and western world. As far as the Government is concerned, all religions are acceptable and should co-exist together yet should not force their beliefs on the others.
Pluralism in our generation appears to be a new trend, however, we can look right back to biblical times to see that pluralism existed centuries ago. In Christs time and before, there were thousands of gods which were worshipped, we can even see by looking back at Moses that the Egyptians who were being led into Israel created their own gods to worship. In America, there are currently (maybe more) around 1200 separate religious bodies. As well as different religions, there is also the existence of modern secular humanism.
What is Secular Humanism?
Secular Humanism is a secular philosophy that espouses reason, ethics, and justice, and specifically rejects supernatural and religious dogma as the basis of morality and decision-making. Secular Humanism is a life stance that focuses on the way human beings can lead good, happy and functional lives. wiki
Secular humanists belief that all religions were created by people. There is no God and people are supreme.
Contributing secular humanist philosophies include the following:
The belief that life came into existence accidentally through natural, random processes over immense periods of time without the aid of a Higher Being. There is no God.
The belief that all of reality is material (matter). Nothing spiritual or nonmaterial exists. Immortal souls or spirits do not exist; no mind exists independent of the brain. Even our thoughts can be reduced to chemical and neurological processes. There is no God.
This philosophy asserts that the universe is all there is and ever was and that all within it operate according to eternal, universal, unchanging natural laws. All of reality can be understood in terms of natural processes. There are no supernatural beings or supernatural events such as miracles and answered prayer. There is no God.
The traditional form of secular humanism is rapidly evolving—especially in academia—into a new worldview that rejects objective truth and reason. In postmodernism, absolute truth is non-existent. “Truth” is subjective in that it is directly related to one’s cultural beliefs and experiences. Pluralism and relativism are the foundational presuppositions of postmodernism.[/stextbox]
The challenge to everyone, christian or not, is the subtlety that surrounds the concept that everyone is free to believe what they want to believe regardless of what is truth. The light is taken away from truth and onto an “each to their own” concept. The striving is for all to co-exist peacefully regardless of belief rather than striving for what is truth.
Not everyone will understand what pluralism is, but it will be evident in the attitudes of many since it is such a powerful force in existence which undermines the discovery of religious truth.
Professor D. A. Carson says it like this:
Those who are committed to the proposition that all views are equally valid have eliminated the possibility that one or more of those opinions has a special claim to being true or valid. They have foreclosed on open-mindedness in the same breath by which they extol the virtues of open-mindedness; they are dogmatic about pluralism.…
Both the irony and the tragedy of this fierce intolerance stem from the fact that it is done in the name of tolerance. It is not “liberal education” in the best sense; it is not pluralism in the best sense. It is fundamentalistic dogmatism in the worse sense.…
… Small wonder, then, that Stanley S. Harakas can affirm that the prevailing world view in America is not pluralistic … but atomistic and anti-religious.
Dan Story goes on to say:
In sum, religious pluralism strives mightily to prevent one from ever discovering absolute truth—what is really true as opposed to what is personal opinion or mere belief. It does this under the guise of tolerance and political correctness. If religious truth is to be found at all, it will not come from the religious pluralism that characterizes the modern scene.
Story, D. (1998). Christianity on the offense : Responding to the beliefs and assumptions of spiritual seekers (17). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
What pluralism has done for all religions is to basically keep people from saying their way is the right way, their truth is the right truth.
Christians do not (or should not) conform to pluralism. Persecution is evident in our time, in our nation and in the nations. It would seem that freedom of speech is no longer permitted and you are more likely to end up in a jail cell for preaching on the streets nowadays. We can see evidence of this persecution in our newspapers, on the internet and word of mouth.
However, this should come as no surprise to us as christians since it was written long ago that we would suffer persecution because of the name of Jesus Matthew 5:11 , and remember, how battle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers and principalities. Eph 6:12
In closing (so as not to end up with a post too long) the real challenge here, even for christians, lays in tolerance and the challenge against uncompromising truth.
Christians are persecuted because there is no such thing as compromise when it comes to truth. If truth is compromised, then it is no longer truth, it becomes denial of truth.
We have seen well-known christian leaders denying truth for fear of not fitting in with pluralism – we now call them “People friendly churches”, or, in this case, they could be called “people friendly christians”. This means they compromise what is truth in order to keep the peace and not cause a challenge to other religious beliefs for the sake of being “friendly” and non-judgemental… this is the tolerance we are talking about.
A christian does not create a truth, true christians believe in what was truth from the beginning and stands by that truth. A christian does not judge another in relation to truth, it is the truth itself (or Himself) that judges. John 14:6
Jesus tells us christians to stand firm and be courageous 1 Corinthians 16:13 and not to be afraid of men Matthew 10:28 but to preach the gospel to all the world Mark 16:15
We should all be on our guard in relation to pluralism and to continue in the truth regardless of the cost.