Friday, February 9, 2007

Religious pluralism

How can Christians accept Christianity as the way to God, and still give credence to the truth and reality of other religions?

By Marcus Borg

Religious pluralism is a fact of life in North America, and in the world. To absolutize one's own religion as the only way means that one sees all of the other religious traditions of the world as wrong, and dialogue, genuine dialogue, becomes impossible. Conversion can be the only goal.

I affirm, along with many others, that the major enduring religions of the world are all valid and legitimate. I see them as the responses to the experience of God in the various cultures in which each originated. To be Christian means to find the decisive revelation of God in Jesus. To be Muslim means to find the decisive revelation of God in the Koran. To be Jewish means to find the decisive revelation of God in the Torah, and so forth. I don't think that one of these is better than the other. You could even say they are all divinely given paths to the sacred. To be Christian in this kind of context means to be deeply committed to one's own tradition, even as one recognizes the validity of other traditions.

To use an analogy based on being a citizen of a nation, I can deeply love my own homeland, cherish it, feel that it's the best place in the world for me to live, and not want to live anywhere else. I can do all of that without needing to say, “Our country is the best one,” or “Our country has the only way of life that's worth following.” I sometimes think it would be good for us Americans if we could have a sense of what it's like to be Dutch. You can be Dutch and love the Netherlands and be so grateful to be living there without being preoccupied about being number one, being the best, and so forth. It would be very good for Christians to be able to love their own tradition deeply without feeling that they're being disloyal in saying that God is known in other traditions as well.

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