It should come (to some) as no surprise that since the Silent Generation in the late 1920’s, belief in God, heaven, hell, and that scripture is the word of God has dropped among U.S. adults. People are also shunning organized religion and adopting their own theologies.1 The arguable cause could be that the older generations are failing to teach their children about the biblical God; but lest I derail this post, I’ll leave that one alone.
My focus (sadly for some) is not the increasing religiously unaffiliated atheists, but those who still cling to a form of spirituality, even as it continues to decrease. In other words, I am addressing those who believe there is a god, and believe there are multiple truths and pathways leading to said god; including professing Christians. As the Pew Research Center statistics show, many dislike the confines of organized religion, wanting to free themselves of any commandments they are unwilling to submit to and/or are uncomfortable with; a form of autonomy if you will. They want to believe in God or a god, but not within the strict purview of set scripture or guidelines. Let us take a look at this odd phenomenon and where it leads.
Picture a wheel for me if you will. Not just any wheel, but a bicycle wheel. On the outside of the wheel is the tire which fits securely into a perfectly level and balanced rim for a nice, smooth ride. On the bottom of the rim are the stabilizers, called spokes. They are the shiny, silver, twig-like braces connecting the rim to arguably the most important part of the wheel – the hub; the central location housing the bearings for seamless rotation for the entire wheel. There are some who believe that spirituality is like this wheel. The tire represents how we account for things like morality and logic, fastened securely to the rim, or universal thought from human to human; supported by a multitude of spokes which denote the different religions of the world; all guided to a centralized location, the hub; or in other words, God. Whatever he, or she, or it may be at that point.
Those who practice this worldview are espousing a universal god, or more formally, religious pluralism – a belief in two or more religious worldviews being equally valid.2 What a seemingly wonderful concept. On the surface, we see people of all walks of life, of all faiths, all truths, working together, side-by-side, in order to arrive at the same god. What could possibly go wrong in the name of progress and truth? Answer – truth itself, which is why this worldview begs the question – Can there be multiple truths that all point to the same God? Let’s see…
Consider the vast number of world religions. There are estimated to be 4,200 disparate religious affiliations with different values, with a different god (or gods or goddess or goddesses), with different holy books, with different ways of how we get to said supreme being(s). Think about the Tower of Babel for a moment. In Genesis 11, God came down and confused the languages of the descendants of Noah and spread them across the earth. Now consider the god of all religions. If the god of religious pluralism is one with the Christian God, did he create a religious babel? Did he purposely confuse all worldly religions to distance himself as the focal point? Why would he make thousands of contrary intermediaries and truth claims? How does one explain this type of rationality?
To fully grasp the enormity of such questions, let us examine this further using a handful of specific examples. Christianity tells us Jesus died on a cross (Matt 27:40), while the Quran states He was not crucified (Surah 4:157-158). Christianity tells us that Jesus died and rose again in physical form (1 Thess 4:14) and He is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), while Wicca vehemently denies both.3 Hinduism believes in reincarnation, while Spiritualists (Spiritism) believe we will pass on to a third dimension and our vibrations (fast for good, slow for bad) determine a lighter or darker astral region.4 There are countless other examples of competing and outright contradictory beliefs among the world’s religions. So for sanity’s sake, I will stop there.
Ponder the three preceding examples for a moment. Now consider the law of noncontradiction, which states something cannot be both true and not true at the same time when dealing with the same context. What does this mean? It means that Jesus could not have possibly been crucified and not been crucified. It means that Jesus could not have risen in physical form and be the only begotten Son of God, and not be the Son of God and risen in physical form. Lastly, it means one cannot be reincarnated on earth to participate in the cycle of life and pass on to a third dimension astral plain for eternity at the same time. Scratching your head yet? Good, me too. The only conclusion a religious pluralist can deduce from multiple truths is they have a supreme being of contradiction; thus, there is no truth beyond the individual espousing such.
Religious pluralists have a big problem in their inclusiveness of truth. Why? Because truth is exclusive! Christian blogger, Kevin Drendel expounds on this perfectly: “The truth is that everyone who cares about the truth is exclusive because the truth is exclusive. The Truth (capital T) is exclusive of what is untrue. That is the nature of Truth. There is no universal inclusivity when it comes to truth.”5 In other words, pluralism in its inclusivity of all religions espousing some truths, is actually an exclusive position!
Sadly, some professing Christians hold to the pluralist view as well. They read and lean on their horoscopes, think if they do something good/bad they will get something good/bad in return (Karma), seek palm readers and psychics, try meditating to a higher level of consciousness, wish upon shooting stars, etc. All while advocating a belief in the biblical God. Practicing such blatant disobedience is in direct contradiction of biblical scripture. If you are a child of God, I strongly encourage you to distance yourself from such things. You cannot serve two masters! It is one or the other; God or something else (sin). Some may say I’m being a bit harsh. Good! There is a reason.
Ask yourself, how can Christianity function in the pluralist worldview? It can’t! When Thomas asked Jesus how the apostles would know the way (to the Father), He answered: “…I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). If Jesus is the way, how can all the other spokes on the wheel also be the way? The same can be asked about the truth and the life. Was He lying? Is there another secret way? No! “…I am the way…” insinuates just that, one way. Not two, not five, not the estimated 4,200; one! If you are a professed Christian saying there are other ways, you have made God a liar, plain and simple. Remember God’s first three commandments on Mount Sinai in Exodus 20: “You shall have no other gods before me” (v.3). What else? “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth” (v.4). How about one more: “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (v.5). One cannot worship Allah, Ra, Thor, Osiris, the Three Goddesses, Vishnu, Shiva, the ancient oak tree in my backyard, et al, and expect to see the Father. It is a contradiction! It is not possible!
The perfect, inerrant, inspired word of God is the epitome of exclusivity within competing religious worldviews. We (Christians) do not entertain another supreme being (or beings) because they do not exist; have never existed; nor will ever exist. Apologist, Dr. James White, explains further: “It’s not a matter of ‘my scripture is better than yours’, it’s a matter of mine IS scripture, and yours isn’t.”6 Jesus touches on this very issue: “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Matt 12:30). Jesus speaks of exclusivity; it’s Him or not Him. It cannot be Him, and him, and her, and him over there. No! He makes Himself exclusive; the standalone; the way, the truth, the life.
After careful analysis, it is clear that due to the exclusivity of truth, the Christian worldview cannot possibly be rationally counted among the pluralist worldview. All it takes is one contradiction to render the entire inclusivity claim of pluralism irrational, for which I have presented multiple examples. If you are a religious pluralist, some questions you may want to be asking at this point are: If all paths lead to God, god, gods, etc., how can multiple contradictory truths be trusted as true? How do I decide what truths to pick and choose from, and what is the standard for doing so? If my standard is contradictory to someone else’s, are we both still right? What you will find is the pluralist worldview is unsustainable due to its contrary nature. A melting pot of multiple (supposed) religious validities can only lead to chaos and confusion (among other things). Therefore, professing Christians, if you believe and “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30), your only logical option is to concede that all other religions are wrong!
1 Pew Research Center. (2015). U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/
2 Got Questions. (2016). What is Religious Pluralism? Retrieved from http://www.gotquestions.org/religious-pluralism.html
3 Dragonsong, E. (2016). What are Wicca Beliefs about Jesus and Other Christian Stuff? Retrieved from http://www.wicca-spirituality.com/wicca-beliefs-jesus.html
4 Zammit, V. (2001). How Different Religions View the Afterlife. Retrieved from http://www.victorzammit.com/articles/religions3.html
5 Drendel, K. (2015). The Exclusivity of Truth. Retrieved from https://navigatingbyfaith.com/2015/09/08/the-exclusivity-of-truth/
6 White, J. (2014). The Inspiration, Canonization, and Transmission of Scripture. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqcwcxoxoUo
Author: Brian Kurkjian, Ed.D
Contributor: Rachel A.