Research Term: Religious Pluralism
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Is Belief in Jesus Necessary? (via Equip)
Proponents of a view known as inclusivism argue that while no one is saved apart from the redemptive work of Jesus, it is not necessary either to know about the gospel or to believe in Jesus for salvation. Inclusivism eliminates the problem that those who haven’t heard the gospel will not be saved, but this feature does not mean that inclusivism is true or biblical. Paul, in fact, taught in Romans 1–3 that while general knowledge about a Creator is available to all through the light of creation, this knowledge does not bring about salvation. Only special revelation about God, sin, Jesus, and salvation that was given to the prophets and apostles and recorded in the Bible provides the information necessary for salvation. Inclusivists argue that the content of faith is not crucial and that the unevangelized may even be saved while practicing their non-Christian religions. Paul said in Romans 10:9–10, however, that knowledge of true information is part of saving faith. Paul also clearly said that neither he nor the unbelieving people to whom he preached were saved before believing in Jesus Christ. Inclusivists argue that if God saves infants and the mentally incompetent, who die never having come to faith in Jesus, then He can save the unevangelized. This view, however, ignores the fact that the unevangelized are accountable for their sin while infants and the mentally incompetent are not. Inclusivists also point to Old Testament believers as an example of saved people who did not know about Jesus, but just because they did not have explicit knowledge of Jesus does not mean they had no special revelation at all such as the unevangelized. The inclusivist view that those who have never heard the gospel will be saved has a serious, negative effect on Christian missions. In light of these and other problems, inclusivism should not be considered an acceptable option for Christians.
Is Jesus the Only Savior? (via Equip)
Historic Christianity says Jesus is the only Savior and belief in Him is the only hope for salvation (John 14:6). This exclusive view has been challenged in recent years by a view known as pluralism, which says there are many paths to God or Ultimate Reality. Pluralists such as John Hick, however, have put forth arguments that contain numerous difficulties for their own view. If, for example, God is all-loving, as pluralists have argued, then this means that religions that view God as nonpersonal are false, since to be loving is to be personal. If pluralists respond that we really can’t know what God is like, then this contradicts their claim to know that God is all-loving. Pluralists also accuse Christian exclusivists of being intolerant, but if intolerance means disagreeing with someone’s view, then pluralists are also intolerant since they disagree with exclusivists. Pluralism, furthermore, seeks to empty all religions of objective truth claims. Anyone who would embrace pluralism, therefore, will have to abandon basic tenets of his or her own faith. Pluralism has been a philosophical failure and, hence, should not be embraced.
Do All Religions Lead to God? (via Reasons)
During the days following the catastrophic terrorist events of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush called for a national day of prayer. He urged people of all faiths to pray for America. Interfaith religious services were televised from the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and from Yankee Stadium in New York. These services included clerics from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. They offered prayers to the God collectively addressed as "the God of Abraham, the God of Muhammad, and the Father of Jesus Christ." Popular television personality Oprah Winfrey led the service held in New York City and boldly declared that all people pray to the same God. Is Oprah right? Do Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus worship the same God? If so, people of all faiths can live peaceably in this world, can't they?
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