Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved Acts 4:12
Religious pluralism is the view that all religions, certainly all major religions, offer equally valid paths to God or to ultimate reality (Carmody). Part of this ideology was formed by the British philosopher John Hick, born 1922. Hick argued that God answers to many names with each of the world religions naming God differently and each of these names serves as a saving point of contact to the divine (Plantinga, 1999).
Accepting Hick's definition of religious pluralism certainly has implications to professing the uniqueness of Christ and His exclusive claims on salvation. Deciding which path to take subsequently corners us into the same predicament as Pontius Pilate. What is truth? (John 18:38). Zacharias (2000) states "In the real-life struggles between right and wrong, justice and injustice, life and death, we all realize that truth does matter. Jesus Christ repeatedly talked about the supreme value of truth". When Jesus proclaimed "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6) He testified to being the truth. As Wright (2001) explains, it is not Christianity which proclaims itself as the true way, but Jesus Christ himself (p. 24).
Christ stated "For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me" (John 18:37). The pluralist view point declares absolute truth does not exists and therefore no religion, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or Christianity can lay claim to exclusive truth. Wright (2001) states, however, a hidden arrogance is presented here in the pluralist argument; they themselves are asserting their own proclamation of absolute truth and therefore propose a contradictory and self destructive proposition.
Christ's declaration of absolute truth emerges when examining a life void of sin in comparison to the founders of other world religions.
The struggles of Mohammed, Buddha and Krishna are recorded within their own scriptures. Mohammed is shown to ask for forgiveness for faults (within Surah 47 and 48), Krishna is depicted exploiting milkmaids in the Bhagavad-Gita, and Buddha, when he left his wife and son, was searching for an answer. He was seeking truth. The Buddah's life was a journey of self discovery. Christ did not leave his comfortable surroundings in order to gain enlightenment (Zacharias, 2000, p. 40-42). Christ came to earth to proclaim himself as the Truth. Those that choose to follow are then commissioned to share this with others.
The New Testament was written during a time of religious pluralism. In the modern world this is a fairly new phenomenon as boundaries collapse and people move from country to country, bringing with them their own religions. The first Christians forged ahead with the unique doctrine of Christ in a similar environment, facing execution more often than not at the hands of Roman oppressors (Fernado, 2001).
In approaching others with the uniqueness of Christ and the testimony of absolute truth, Fernando (2001) provides direction, "We must approach people with respect, love, and graciousness. We desire the best for them, but the best thing we can do for them is to tell them about the God who can grant them eternal salvation" (p. 27). He concludes we need courage and perseverance to remain faithful to this mission.
Jack Jones, Editor of The Christian Network and Street Chaplain - http://www.thechristiannetwork.com, Australia's most comprehensive Christian Web Magazine.
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