Thursday, August 16, 2007

Religious Tolerance

What we have discussed with regard to tolerance in general applies specifically to religious tolerance as well.

Again, the classical view of tolerance is that we should be egalitarian with respect to persons and elitist with respect to ideas. That is, we should treat people equally despite our disagreements. Ideas, on the other hand, are up for grabs, and there's nothing wrong with addressing the problems with bad ideas as long as we treat with respect the persons who hold those wrong views.

In our culture today, however, the misunderstanding and redefining of tolerance has led to a misunderstanding and redefining of religious pluralism. It is a fact that there are different understandings of who God is and what constitutes the true path to salvation. And the founding fathers of this nation were at pains to ensure that despite these differences, people of all faiths could get along in the democracy of these United States. But postmodernists have made it fashionable to believe that "all religions lead to [the same] God" and that "all religious ideas are equally valid." This, of course, is irrational, illogical, and, in a word, nonsense.

To gauge how much you may have been influenced by this postmodern way of thinking (specifically with regard to religious pluralism), see how you react to these two statements...
All religious views are equally valid.

Jesus is Messiah, and Jews, Muslims, and others who reject him are wrong.
Did that last statement bother you? You may disagree with it, of course, and that's fine. If you think it false, you are at least being rational, but you are also affirming the classical and denying the postmodern view. But if the statement bothered you because you deemed it somehow insensitive or intolerant, that's just evidence that you've been influenced by illogical, relativistic thinking.

The truth claims of all the major faiths are contradictory and mutually exclusive. They cannot all be right. Muslims believe that Jesus was a great prophet, that he was not the eternal Son of God, that he neither died on the cross nor was resurrected. Jews believe Jesus of Nazareth was a blasphemer who deserved the ignoble execution he suffered. Christians believe that he was the long-awaited Messiah, eternally one with God the Father, that he sacrificially died in our place, and that his deeds and claims were vindicated when God raised him bodily from the dead.

Clearly, these three views about this one person are not all correct. Nor is it just Christians who make exclusive truth claims--all the major faiths do as well. So the view of religious pluralism promoted by postmodernists is inconsistent with true worship in any one faith. It is merely a fallacious attempt to dismiss all religions by claiming that all are equal.

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