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Religious Pluralism: Identifying and Responding to the Spirit of Our Age

( [email protected] ) Nov 11, 2016 10:17 AM EST
"America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”― Fulton J. Sheen. It was once accurately stated that to believe everything is to believe nothing. Though unrestricted acceptance may appear at first thought superiorly loving, it is in factuality lethal and self-destructive.

"America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance - it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded."
- Fulton J. Sheen

It would be inaccurate to maintain that Christianity has been entirely abhorred throughout history. In Ancient Rome, a time often notorious for its hostility towards Christianity, it was not illegal to worship the Jewish Messiah---provided that other gods were credited equal recognition with Him. In modern America, a similar perception is rapidly inspiring major governmental legislations and legal documents. As in Rome, it is presently acceptable to recognize Jesus Christ---under the singular condition that He is reverenced alongside a myriad of additional ideologies. Prominent professors, UN ambassadors, and liberal politicians alike spout the singular demand: truth must be identified as indefinite and inclusive, and the virtues of Fairness and Tolerance venerated accordingly.

Leading law instructor Kimberly A. Yurako resounds this maxim in pronouncing the validity of "legal and constitutional limits" upon parental instruction of "illiberal beliefs and values." The banning of religious and private schools with the enforcement of compulsory education epitomize a utopian achievement to the masses anticipating a universal, religious "co-existence." Historically, orthodox Christianity has been associated with thwarting enlightenment due to its fixed adherence to Scriptural authority. Today, however, the division traditionally disparaged appears to be a waning sect; fewer believers can competently defend the claims of Christ for a lack of Scriptural insight and trust. A pluralistic worldview formulated by John Hick, a once-professing proponent of the Christian faith, propelled a philosophy which seemed credible to biblically illiterate generations. Therein, Hick proposed that all religious persuasions could co-exist as partial-perceptions of a greater Truth. The infiltration of Hick's theory, in many cases, displaced the belief in Scriptural authority with a mentality that all is truth; predictably, virtue ebbed from sight and moral choices between the Church and non-Church generated as hardly distinguishable.

At its heart, the theory of religious pluralism boastfully denies discrimination against any mentality. Consequently, no perspective may be concluded as wholly true or false as such a conclusion would in turn warrant a biased and therefore undesirable assessment upon another view. Subsequently, any personality attached to Reality originates presumably from the psychological "streams of consciousness" of the human mind. While Hick professedly respected every perception, he personally denied the certainty of any particular creed. Universally-affirmed principles served the idealistic standard for every decision. Such principles ostensibly avoided unfair religious distinction and maintained general justice.

Followers intent upon continuing Hick's message and universalizing the world by dismissing individuality as "rivalry" destructive to "world peace" today insist upon the benefit of scriptural convergence. Religious literature in accordance with Hick's worldview is dismissed as yet another demonstration of human perception, a product of man's creative ingenuity, a hopeful contribution to an idyllic tolerance. Resultantly, all absolute declarations in the form of doctrine and religious literature are denied relevancy for all people and circumstances. Detested is the thought or even scent of partition or conclusive certainty. What Hick failed to anticipate, however, was the sheer vanity of his assumptions. True equality is futile in a fallen world inclined towards evil; morality, moreover, consistently degenerates wherever relevancy reigns in society. In today's post-Christian world, sin is considered merely a mistake in judgment, an impulsive remnant of man's prehistoric subconscious.

Though Hick admitted the concept of human imperfection, he viewed the concept of evil as more of a positive reminder than an innate destroyer. Sin, he resolved, existed in order that man might better know God and recognize His holiness. While Hick denied the absolute truth of Scripture, however, he overlooked a paramount fact; that is, that man cannot recognize or attain holiness apart from the redemptive work of Christ. In his vision, evil, like truth, was left largely to the eye of the beholder, and could manifest itself by faulty judgment, lapses in logic, or in conflict. The predominating philosophy of relevancy has reduced truth to the subjective preferences of individuals; consequently, truth is anything and everything is truth. Consequently, murder may be labeled as varyingly as a reproductive "right," a medical "procedure," a liberating "choice," or a "solution" to a "problem." Such a worldview thrives upon relevancy----the belief that truth is dependent, rather than independent, of external factors, leading ultimately to inconsistency and confusion as every man chooses an actuality for himself

It was once accurately stated that to believe everything is to believe nothing. Though unrestricted acceptance may appear at first thought superiorly loving, it is in factuality lethal and self-destructive. The briefest perusal of the modern world's situation would disclose an atmosphere characterized by violence, sorrow, guilt and confusion. Hick's diagnosis of sin is a highly popular one: it exalts the ego, and condemns all attempts to wound it so that no one is wrong, and all are right. Knowledge is what one makes of it, and is confined to how one defines it. As a result, understanding is diminished to a grossly exalted vagueness, as unknowable and undistinguishable. In contrast, legality assumes imperfection and unruliness. It encompasses the two-fold responsibility of protecting the blameless and prosecuting the guilty, thereby causing the evil to fear (Romans 13). Unfortunately, the modern Church has nearly forgotten the mandate to restrain; this can be directed back to a sore disregard for God's Word and, consequently, ignorance of human depravity and the importance of legal structure.

One's moral perception is subsequently formed by one's perception of reality and truth. Where truth is ambiguous, random and unknowable, every following precept naturally resonates these characteristics. A recognition of the nature of truth in connection with the infallible inspiration of the Scriptures and the whole signification of Matthew 28:19-20 is alone capable of defeating the rise of Hick's observation of Reality, and the ebb of morality inevitably following. Men stand not obligated to principles or legalities in and of themselves, hence, but to One who has personified perfection. Scripture attests to Itself as the Law of God which neither fades nor changes with time. Through It, men are dispensed the Way to liberty, the Path upon which the bondage of sin is released. Precedent to the Cross, the best of men's intentions are as "filthy rags." Through the Cross, however, men are brought to a new understanding in which they are enabled not only to discern between truth and falsity in a more profound way, but also to perform pleasing works through faith. Such deeds are underlined by a supernatural love for God, and rooted in a recognition of law.

Furthermore, men are changed from lawless creatures to lawful creatures. It is only by establishing clear divisions, through plain distinctions between "right" and "wrong" that evil is restrained. Only until sin is perceived as it truly is can men recognize why and how to avert it.

Tags : Apologetics