Talk:Religious pluralism/Archive 1

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Uh, I have issues with a couple of sentences:

the Jews teach that their faith is only the most complete and accurate revelation of God to humanity that we have ........... Judaism held that although only Judaism was true

First, this characterization may lead some to believe that "pluralism" means that everyone has an equal right to be ethnocentric (or whatever). It isn't that I disagree with this, but this is a view an outsider (someone in an objective or non-partisan) position can believe about "religions" – this is very different from a religion itself taking a pluralist position vis a vis itself and other religions.

Could you clarify your thoughts on this issue. The sentence you mention was specifically in the section on "Jewish views"; this it was not a claim about pluralism in general, it was only about a Jewish view of pluralism. RK
What I mean is this: to me, this account of Judaism makes Judaism (at least according to some people at one time) non-pluralistic. The article points out that in a rather different way Christianity, or a major version of Christianity, is non-pluralistic. Now, in the other articles we have been discussing, I think the major thread of the discussion was attempts within those religious traditions to revise their views of themselves so that they would become pluralistic in their own attitudes towards the truth. But looking at the descriptions of Judaism and Christianity in this article, I see a different attempt -- also valid, important, and in many ways related, but still, I think, different -- which is, how can someone who is not an Orthodox/fundamentalist Christian or Jew come up with a set of beliefs about "the truth" that would allow them to respect both orthodox/fundamentalist Christianity. I guess I am asking "pluralism for whom?" and "pluralism for what purpose? because I strongly suspect that people who answer these questions differently are likely to come up with different kinds of pluralisms. (SR)
Oh, absolutely. I am trying to cast a fairly wide net within this entry, showing how many different people come up with many different forms of pluralism. What one person considers pluralistic will be considered too liberal by some, and not liberal enough by others. That's why I immediately broke things up by religion. Eventually as this article grows with more contributions, specific positions from specific theologians can be mentioned within each category. For example (and in broad strokes) Reform Jews are generally concerned with developing more maximal forms of pluralism; Orthodox Jews are uncomfortable with anything more than the most minimal forms; Conservative Jewish scholars are obsessed (correctly, in my anal-retentive view) with the theological and halakhic implications, and the need to balance them with intellectual integrity. RK
SR, You write "What I mean is this: to me, this account of Judaism makes Judaism (at least according to some people at one time) non-pluralistic." In what way do you mean this? Judaism in many eras didn't grant other religions the same respect that it gave itself (and I think often for good reason). It even disparaged them for some of their practices. However ancient Judaism still held that gentiles in other religions (even pagan ones) could still live good lives, could have a relationship with God, and could still have an afterlife or Heavenly reward. Heck, pagans could even by prophets. So this certainly fits what many people today call pluralism, even if it isn't the most liberal such version. In fact, ancient Judaism was infinitely more pluralisitic than most denominations of Christianity today. (i.e. most forms of Christianity are still anti-pluralistic in the extreme, and claim that Jesus and Jesus alone is the only way to God.) RK

Second, and more important, I question the accuracy of this claim about Judaism. Does the Jewish tradition (either the sages in the Talmud, or the major midrashic works) claim that the Hebrew/Jewish religion is "the most complete an accurate?" I don't think so, although I would defer to RK or others. But I really don't believe that Judaism ever held that "only Judaism" was true. - SR

There are many traditional rabbinic statements to this effect, yes. In fact, I am understating the traditional Jewish view. Although I am not Orthodox, I admit that many non-Orthodox rabbis fail to accurately describe the views of our religious predecessors to their congregations. In some ways, Orthodox rabbis are correct when they say that non-Orthodox rabbis over-stress the pluralistic parts of Judaism, and fail to quote the many parts of the tradition which explicitly state that other faiths are incomplete or misleading. (These people, however, did not claim that all gentile faiths were completely false.) The non-Orthodox may be correct in stressing that we need to concentrate on and develop the pluralistic path, but they need to explain that the path they teach is not synonmous with what every Jewish community in the past has believed. (Similar, yes.) Over the next week I will be adding more references and quotes on this topic from Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives, with quotes and resources for further reading. RK
First of all, I am a little skeptical of Orthodox Jewish claims that their account of "traditional" Judaism really reflects the beliefs of, say, the Tanaim. Pilpul and a whole lot of midrashic technique often involves making claims about what a text "really" means by taking it out of context and putting it in a new one. I am not claiming that I really know what the Tanaim really thought. I am claiming that knowing what they thought is not so simple as just reading the Talmud, because the reading that makes most sense to us today, or made the most sense to people in the 10th century, may nevertheless not be how people in the 2nd century understood things. (SR)
When it comes to many Orthodox Jewish specific claims about the Jewish principles of faith, Jewish historians of religion are certain that the Orthodox are often wrong in their discussion of the issue. They are also often wrong when it comes to discussing even the details of how halakha (Jewish law) has developed. And the Jewish scholars I rely on include Modern Orthodox rabbis, as well as non-Orthodox scholars, so I am not being anti-Orthodox; rather, I just am pro-historical method. So I agree with everything you say here. RK
My point was more restricted - for this specific issue, the Orthodox are correct to point out that the left-wing of Judaism really has over-stated its case. While it might be right to go down this path, that's not precisely the same path we always had trod. When it comes to halakha, liberal Judaism always feels free to say that its path is based on the classical sources, but is not identical to them. However, when it comes to theology, on occasion liberal Jews fall into a neo-Orthodox revisionist history, saying "Our way is precisely the same as the classical Jewish way", when in fact it isn't so. It may be based on, derived from it, etc, but that's different. RK
That said, let's say I grant your point (I know you know these texts a lot better than I do). I think that for me the crucial issue here is that not all Jews agree, and Judaism has changed. I think even "traditional" or "classic" Judaism may be too broad a term. I understand that I may be asking for a degree of detail inappropriate for the article, but beyond distinguishing between Tanaim and Amoraim and Medieval commentators, I'd even like to see distinctions between J and D discussed! (SR)
I agree; pre-Enlightenment Judaism has always ahd a range of views on this subject (as it also has had on all other theological issues.) Thus, I have gathered some quotes from a number of sources, including Maimonides, and less well-known medieval Jewish theologians, as well as some modern day theologians. These will be added to the entry over the next few days. I will add a list of specific references for further reading today. Just one minor disagreement. I don't think that distinctions between J and D are possible, because we don't know such details. Further, all historical records of the Israelite religion and Judaism are from the post-Torah redaction era. There are no sects of Judaism, even in the time of Hillel and Shammai (and Jesus) that were of the "J" persuasion, as opposed to the "D" persuasion. Its practically pre-history. RK
I admit I have an underlying motive for this preference. When we scrutinize differences in beliefs and attitudes over time, it becomes possible to show how those beliefs and practices were influenced by their historical context. Thus, beliefs that appear to be absolute are revealed to be contingent. (SR) Perhaps my position is controversial. But if you share or are sympathetic with my view, I think explicating these changing attitudes, and trying to account for why at one time Jewish claims may not have been absolute at all, then they were very absolute, then they became more moderate again, etc., would add tremendously to the educational value of the article. (SR)
Your belief indeed is controversial to most Orthodox Jews, but not to anyone who studies the development of Judaism in its historical context. It is certainly not controversial to me, but rather a dispassionate claim about historical development. In fact, I would like to share some reccomendations for some of the books on this topicRK
  • "The Dynamics of Judaism: A Study in Jewish Law". Robert Gordis Pub. by Indiana Univ. Press, 1990.
  • "A Living Tree: The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law" Elliot N. Dorff and Arthur Rosett, SUNY Press
  • "A Tree of Life: Diversity, Flexibility, and Creativity in Jewish Law" Louis Jacobs, Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, Revised edition
  • "Etz Hayim: A Torah Commentary", Edited by David Lieber et al. The JPS Torah commentary series serves as the basis of the new Torah commentary of the Conservative movement. This 1500 page book, with Torah and haftorah commentary, makes use of literary analysis, intertextual commentary relating each book to other biblical books, and evidence from modern archaeological discoveries.
  • "Philosophies of Judaism" by Julius Guttmann, trans. by David Silverman, JPS. 1964.
  • "Rereading the Rabbis: A Woman's Voice" Judith Hauptman, pb, HC 336 pages, Westview Press, 1998. Acknowledging that Judaism, as described in both the Bible and the Talmud, was patriarchal, Hauptman demonstrates that the rabbis of the Talmud made significant changes in key areas of Jewish law in order to benefit women. Reading the texts with feminist sensibilities, the author shows that although the rabbis whose rulings are recorded in the Talmud did not achieve full equality for women, they should be credited with giving women higher status and more rights. Re-reading the Rabbis

I do believe that it held, categorically, that God exists and is one, and that all polytheistic faiths are categorically wrong. This is significant and must be recognized. Nevertheless, this is a Jewish claim about the world, not a Jewish claim about Judaism. I mean, Genesis tells of God's relationship with Adam and Noah, the fathers of ALL of us (i.e. humanity) but although this is a "Jewish" belief in that Jews believe it, it is not a belief about Jews because Adam and Noah were not Jewish, were not Children of Israel, were not Hebrews. - SR

I agree. I didn't realize that the entry, in its present early state, implied otherwise. It can be rewritten. RK
Well, it is a judgement call and I am not so sure myself. But I do think that there are people out there who think that because Noah or even Job are in the Bible, they must have been Jewish. (SR)
Yes, SR, but you have to understand that people with such uneducated views are simple people, people of the Earth, the common know, morons. (Thanks to Mel Brooks, Blazing Sadles) RK
And as a Jew, I am very proud that one of the greatest (in my opinion) books on our relationship to God is about a non-Jew. And the significance of course is not that non-Jews can reach God, but that they can reach God by being righteous in their own way and not only do they not have to obey halakha, they do not even have to believe in the covenant at Sinai or even that anything happened at all at Sinai! (SR)

Judaism (Hebrew/Israelite religion) claims that other Gods are false Gods and that other peoples will come to no good worshiping them. It also hates it when Jews worship false Gods. But I do not recall ANYTHING that suggests that Judaism as such is "true" for non-Jews. God is true for all, but Judaism as such is for Jews! Given this I do not understand the claim that "Judaism held that only Judaism was true." I just don't think Judaism ever claimed this.

I agree. I don't think that the article implies this, but if it does, just point out where and it can be rewritten. Or maybe the entry doesn't say anything about this either way, and this point just needs to be made explicit. The way I understand it is this: Judaism claims that the Jewish faith really is true in an absolute sense, and not just for Jews. (Of course, how can one hold that facts are relative?) I wanted to say that Judaism, however, also teaches that gentiles are not obligated to become Jews. In fact, Judaism only teaches that gentiles have a very small list obligations that they are bound to follow (i.e. the 7 Noachide laws.) RK
I think in context these points should be incorporated into the article. But I must point out that there are many people who do not at all define facts as absolute, but indeed claim that they are relative. People who follow the later Wittgenstein would argue that what constitutes a "fact" is contingent on the particular language-game. Some historians of science would arge that what is recognized as a fact is depends on what paradigm you are operating in. Some social scientists (there is a famous book called The Social Construction of Reality by Berger and Luckman) argue that facts are social constructs. And of course, these views provide great theoretical justification for any kind of pluralism. (SR)
Ironically, I believe that Wittgenstein later retracted his claims that all such issues are just language-games, and he realized that some such claims do have set meaning and truth consequences. But some post-modernists latched onto his earlier views, and took them for a ride. They do provide a basis for pluralism, but only by denying the existence of all facts and logic. There are sounder ways to achieve the desired goal! [RK

Also the revelation at Sinai was a profound event for Jews. But wasn't it just for Jews? Does anything in the account claim that it was the most complete an accurate revelation of God? I am not sure that the Torah or the Talmud ever even claim that it is possible for God to reveal Himself "completely." - SR

I fully agree, Judaism holds that the teachings of the Torah are just for Jews. Gentiles are not bound to follow all the laws therein. Judaism does not teach that the Torah, or even the Tanach (Hebrew Bible, Old Testament) is the final and complete word of God. In fact, Judaism holds by the precise opposite; that no one document or set of documents can ever contain the total and unambiguous word of God. That is precisely the point of the oral law. I think this point is mentioned somewhere further down in the entry, although it could be made more explicit and moved to a better location. RK
yes, I think these points are important enough that they should be more explicit. (SR)

Perhaps I am ignorant of some important proof-texts – which I hope someone would then provide. I have just enough doubt to not want to revise the article unilaterally -- SR

Here are some 'proof-texts' from the Old Testament that many Christians interpret to mean that the Hebrew religion was intended to be shared with the entire world.
* Isaiah 42:6-7 -- Israel is to be a light to the nations.
* Genesis 12:3 -- God told Abraham, "... and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
* Daniel ch. 3-4 -- Nebuchadnezzar ends by praising the God of Daniel.
* Daniel 6:26-27 -- Darius decrees that everyone in his kingdom should worship the God of Daniel.
* Jonah 3:2-10 -- Jonah tells the people of Ninevah, outside of Israel and Judah, to repent; they do, and God forgives them.
* Joel 2:28-29 -- "Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh..."
* Amos and other prophets not only called Israel and Judah to repent of their sins, but the surrounding nations as well.
* 2 Kings 5 -- Naaman the Syrian was instructed by Elisha to wash in the Jordan to be cured of his leprosy. He was offended at this, thinking his own Syrian rivers were just as good, but was healed when he followed Elisha's instructions.
* There is also Rahab of Jericho who joined the Israelites, and Ruth the Moabite who married Boaz and declared her faith in the Hebrew God, and other such individuals.
These are undoubtedly 'proof-texts' and subject to differing interpretations. Nevertheless, these and other passages suggest to Christians that God revealed himself to the Hebrews in a special way so that he could be revealed to people of all nations and religions. --Wesley
As you say, these are crucial prooftexts that can be interpreted in different ways. I understand how Christians have used them. I would like to suggest a different interpretation -- one that is not meant to invalidate Christians' right to reinterpret the Bible and find their own meaning in it, but one that I personally believe is closer to the intended meaning i.e. more consistent with what I know of that time in history. I think all of these verses reflect the one universal claim of later Israelite religion (i.e. perhaps not of J but certainly of P), that there is one God, and God (El/Allah) is God for everyone. But I see these same verses as establishing the pluralism that Judaism expresses within this one universal claim -- that everyone should worship God, but in their own way, in other words
1) Jews have their way of worshiping God, which does not invalidate the Persian's way of worshiping God, and
2) Persians can find their way of worshiping God, which although different from that of the Jews is no more or less right and does not invalidate the Jewish way (an attitude we Jews wish all other religious communities could adopt!)
Amos certainly should make all people, not just Jews, feel a little uncomfortable about "their" sins -- just as Jonah should give non-Jews comfort. But I put "their" in quotes because it is by no means clear that the other nations are judged the same way as Jews, I mean, their sins do not consist of their having been excluded from the Covenant God made with Abraham and reformulated and renewed at Sinai, or their having not obeyed halakha. What were their sins? Going back to the Isralite's universalism, I imagine not following the Noahide laws or general principles of ethics. In any case, the point is they are not being punished for not being Jews (I hate to harp on this, but since the topic is pluralism, some Christian claims make it seem that Jews would be punished for not being Christian -- I am simply trying to note a difference in how Jews think of non-Jews versus how Christians think of non-Christians).
Finally, a note about Ruth: I take her "conversion" to actually provide an amazing example of a certain kind of pluralism. She does not convert while she is living in her own land among her own people, even when she marries Chilion (is that his name?). It is only when she decides to accompany her mother-in-law back to Judah that she "converts." The text refers to Orpah returning to her own mother's house and to "her people and her god," and when ruth enters the land of Judah with her monteher-in-law, she says "your people will be my people, your god will be my god." This may be an even earlier form of pluralism than the later Israelite pluralism that insists that there is only one God! In this account, different peoples have their own gods, and to join a nation is to change the god you worship. We don't really live in this kind of world anymore, but it seems to me that the analogy would be, if you (Wesley) or another Christian were to move to Israel to live among Jews, you would stop worshiping Christ and adopt Judaism; were I to move to Italy I would stop being Jewish and start practicing Catholicism; were I to move to England I would become an Anglican, etc. (NOTE: I would suggest that the Roman Empire really changed the world so much that this kind of pluralism could no longer work, which is perhaps one reason why both Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism rejected/repressed/simply could not "get" it; I certainly think it doesn't work in secular/liberal democratic state like the USA (hence, Eric's allusion to political pluralism), which is perhaps why you, RK and I are so interested in this topic)
minimally, my point (which I think you agre with) is that it is important to show how texts have been interepreted in didfferent ways. But for the purpose of this article I am making a further claim, that we should seek out repressed pluralisms in Biblical verses (repressed not only by Christians but by Pharisees or later Rabbinic interpreters, perhaps). -- SR

I have an issue with the definition of religious pluralism. Isn't it not just theological attempts at reconciliation of some sort, but also political? And pluralism in a political sense is a different issue entirely from the theological sense. Perhaps this is really an article on ecumenism rather than pluralism. --Eric

Good points. First, I do think that pluralism is a political issue, among other things, but certainly a larger issue -- eventually I hope this article would be linked to a more general one on pluralism. - SR
Are you sure? The Jewish and Christian sources I have read seem to be strictly philosophical, theological and ethics-based. RK
Yes, I am sure -- I grant that theologians and religious leaders may be ignorant of the current work by legal scholars and political theorists. I grant that they may not need to know what those other people are doing; indeed, perhaps political theorists and legal scholars would benefit from learning what theologians are talking about. Nevertheless, the issue of pluralism really is a crucial issue in political theory. Stanley Fish has written about this, although I cannot give refernces. Also, look for a book edited by Amy Guttman called Multiculturalism (SR)
Second, this article is motivated by some lengthy discussions on other pages, espeically "Christian anti-semitism" and "Anti-semitic verses in the New Testament;" certainly there are conceptual issues in taking elements of that discussion out of context to develop a new article -- perhaps here is where you can make more specific contributions. Finally, the issue of ecumenicism is important but I think different (although there would be value to a linked page). Ecumenicism has a narrow and a broad meaning. The narrow one is really inappropriate here -- an attempt to bring together various Christian churches/movements/sects. The broader meaning suggests some kind of universally or generally accepted claim. In the case of Christianity and Judaism, belief in God/theism is a basis for ecumenicism. But I do not think that that really gets to the issue that people here want to address. - SR
I agree. The first definition of ecumenism that you bring up does not fall under religious pluralism. In fact, ecumenism (in this sense) may well be more political than theological. Perhaps this is what Eric means. The second definition of ecumenism that you bring up does is different; that version is a theological issue that many refer to as a "religious pluralism" issue. In responde to your point below, I would say that this secondary meaning of ecumenism is a part of religious pluralism, rather than a separate topic. Pluralism is used by many different people to cover a wide array of ideas.RK
You may be right, I haven't thought it through enough. In any event, I think a paragraph in the article situating pluralism as a notion (it is the opposite of x; it is like y and like z but in different ways) would be really useful. (SR)
Pluralism is different from ecumencisism in that if refers to how groups with conflicting or exclusive beliefs can relate to one another. But I do not think that it is purely political in that it is a matter solely of practical institutional arrangements or simply a guarantee of freedom of religion. The fundamental issue (in my opinion) is, in what ways and to what extent does one's desire to relate to others require one to change one's conception of one's self? How is a particular religion to understand and express its own truth-claims, given that it knows, and wants to respect, religions that make opposing truth-claims? Well, this is my take on it, perhaps what I wrote will give others (hint hint RK and Wesley and perhaps others) a chance to say more and explore further what this article should and should not be about. -- SR
I see what you're saying. I think it's a great subject to talk about, although I'm not sure how it fits into an encyclopedia article. I'm not sure that pluralism is what's being discussed here, but it's not exactly ecumenism either. If it were called "theological pluralism" that might be clearer, but I'm not going to be the one to change the name at this point! On a personal note, my own religious faith makes some pretty exclusivistic claims, but it also recognizes people of other faiths have or can have considerable truth and can ultimately end up in the same place. But not all people believe that way. It is an interesting subject. --Eric
Eric, that is precisely it; this entry is indeed intended to discuss what you call "theological pluaralism". I called it "religious pluralism" only because that is the phrase I have seen used more often than any others. I think that you see the phrase as having a different meaning; in any case, the definition in the article can be worded so as to make this distinction clear. Obviously, on Wikipedia nothing is set in stone. The title of this entry can certauinbly be changed. However, given the articles I have read so far, I would argue that among those who discuss this subject, the current title is more well known. But other perspectives are still necessary to add in this discussion. RK
Not even having read the article, I'd say that unless we can supply a citation from a theologian or religion professor or two, using the exact phrase "religious pluralism," the article is going to have to be changed radically--renamed, deleted, etc. We are reporting about actual scholarship here, not doing it ourselves. --LMS
But, as I expected, the term is certainly used: Google search for "religious pluralism" --LMS
I looked at Google, and it looks like the term is used more often in the context of religious diversity, although sometimes in the way the term is being used here. Check out the listings for theological pluralism, and it's lot closer to what's being talked about here, I think. --Eric

Like many topics in religion and theology, this specific topic is certainly referred to by different names, by different authors. There is no one set name. I chose "religious pluralism" as the title of this entry only because it seems that more people who discuss this topic use the phrase rather than any other phrase. If in our reading and surveying we find that some other phrase is actually used more often, then we should certainly change the title of this article to that phrase. RK

No comments on the content here, just an explanation of what I did:

  • moved the page to a lower-case title (but not this talk page--too much trouble to do that, just changed the link). We'd write "religious pluralism," I guess, not "Religious Pluralism," so the lower-case title is better. See naming conventions.
  • bolded the title.
  • removed the bullets. Generally, in an encyclopedia, I think it's best to stick with full prose sentences. Bullets are a bit overused on Wikipedia, I think, just because they're so easy to use--not because they are necessary.

--Larry Sanger

Larry, I think you're wrong to do this because:

  • Bullets are a great form of organization
  • They make it easy to distinguish points;
  • They look cool.
  • Anyone can easilly follow the arguments; in paragraph form it is sometimes harder to do.
  • And did I mention that they look cool?
  • RK

I don't think they look cool nearly as often as some people seem to think they do. I think when overused (when used when plain old unbulleted sentences would do) they look amateurish, or as if we were writing ad copy, you know, of the sort that lists the features of the brand new truck you could buy. Sure, they can be useful, but I'm just saying we shouldn't overuse them; using them too much is tantamount to promoting a new standard for structuring written prose, and basically, I don't think Wikipedia is the place for that. --LMS

Sorry, my humor fell flat.  :( I really don't care too much one way or the other. I just found it ironic that while you removed bullets and explained why, you then gave a list of your other changes in bullet form. So I just made up a lot of bullets in response; Its semantic humor. (What other kind of humor would you expect from me? Anti-Semantic? Hah! I kill me... RK

Eric writes "Isn't it not just theological attempts at reconciliation of some sort, but also political?"

Well, for some people that is true, I guess. But for the people whose works I have read, the primary motivation is ethical and theological. This article, as it currently stands, is not about ecumenism at all; it is about theological pluralism. While some people may have political reasons for such theologies, I have not yet come across their writings. If you have any ones to suggest, that would be much appreciated. RK

I would say that this secondary meaning of ecumenism, as stated by SR, is a part of religious pluralism, rather than a separate topic. Pluralism is used by many different people to cover a wide array of ideas. We probablu shouldn't be too strict in giving it a narrow definition. RK

This is just a question for my own clarification, and I apologize if it's off-topic discussion. But the third paragraph or so seems to draw a distinction between pluralism and the maximal form of pluralism. I think I understand what the maximal form of pluralism is: all religions are equally right. What would the other form of pluralism say? "All religions contain some truth, some contain more than others"? "Some religions are more true than others, but it's humanly impossible to know which is which"? Wesley

Yes, that is precisely what the non-maximal forms of pluralism say. RK

I have yet to run across any formulation of Christianity or any other religions that claims to have "all" truth, with no mystery or contradiction left unexplained in the greatest detail, so I don't really see what's so pluralistic about a less-than-maximal pluralism. Maybe I'm just dense, but I don't get it. Maybe a better explanation would benefit other readers as well. Thanks, Wesley

(A) There are many Protestant Christianity churches that claim to have all the truth, and that all other faiths are heretical, lies, or Satanic. In fact, many Protestant Christian groups hold that even other groups in their own faith (i.e. other Christian denominations) are "of the devil" or something similar. There are a number of essays on this at the excellent religious pluralism site, RK
(B) For Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, most adherents would agree that "All religions contain some truth, some contain more than others", but that is where their pluralism would end. The implications for Catholics is that some non-Catholics, and perhaps fewer non-Christiains, might be able to be saved. However, to the best of my knowledge neither of these churches goes further to say that "Some religions are more true than others, but it's humanly impossible to know which is which". If someone were to accept that position, one could not hold that their faith is the only certain way to salvation.
(C) Today, many theologically liberal Jews, Catholics, and Protestants hold to a formulation which might be stated like this - "Some religions are more true than others, but it's humanly impossible to know which is which. However, given everything I know, I believe that my particular faith is indeed the best and most accurate understanding of God's will; I will therefore affirm my that religion is actually true, yet hold that other faiths may contain enough truth to allow their followers to acheieve salvation nonetheless." RK
Thank you. I don't know about anyone else, but that's a very helpful explanation for me. --Wesley

Article says:

Religious liberals in these faiths no longer claim that their religion is complete and of absolute accuracy; rather the Jews teach that their faith is only the most complete and accurate revelation of God to humanity that we have; similarly, the Christians teach the same thing; the Unitarian-Universalists teach the same thing.

I'm going to remove Unitarian-Universalists from the above sentence. UUism doesn't teach its "the most complete and accurate revelation of God to humanity that we have" (quite a few UUs don't even believe in "God", and the origins of UUism are more in reason and personal experience than in revelation). OTOH, we still should discuss UU views somewhere here, since some form of religious pluralism is an essential component of UUism. The problem is that, unlikely most religions, UUism doesn't have any detailed official teachings -- basically all it officially says is "you are welcome to believe just about whatever you want, so long as you respect other people".

Also, I can think of some information we should cover. There was the case of the Belgian Jesuit Fr. Jacques Dupuis, his conflicts with the Vatican, over his book Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism. Basically, as I understand it, the conflict was over where the truth in religions other than Catholicism comes from -- the Vatican insisted any truth other religions have is derived from Christ, Dupuis was arguing that some religions might have truths independent of the truths of Christianity. I also recall reading a paper of his on theocentric vs. christocentric attitudes to religious pluralism (basic issue here is: is Jesus for everyone, or is Jesus only for Christians? do members of other religions relate to God directly and independently of Jesus, or is their relationship to God also mediated by Christ, like Christians, even though they may not realise it is?). This may also fit in with and explain that controversial Vatican declaration of a while back, that Catholicism is the only completely true religion, or something like that.

Also, the journal Sophia had an interesting issue on religious pluralism some time last year or the year before. I'll look at it next time I go to uni (might not be until March, though). The information it had on Henry Corbin's views on pluralism was particularly interesting.

Also, I recall somewhere reading some classification of different approaches to religious pluralism: exclusivism (my religion is true, all other religions are false), inclusivism (my religion is true, but other religions still contain some truth in them, just not as much as mine), and pluralism (my religion is only one of many equally valid paths to God). Has anyone else heard that terminology used? -- SJK

That's similar to the terminology my "Philosophy of World Religions" professor used; I think he called them "religious exclusivism", "religious pluralism", and "religious inclusivism", just to emphasize that we were using the terms with respect to religion. And of course we spent weeks defining what the terms meant and didn't mean. --Wesley

Okay, I found the paper, its at [1]. He talks about a number of different classifications have developed:

The various theological positions on the subject have been differently classified by theologians. One classification distinguishes four main opinions: 1) an ecclesiocentric universe and an exclusive Christology. 2) a Christocentric universe and an inclusive Christology; 3) a theocentric universe and a normative Christology: 4) a theocentric universe and a non-normative Christology. For the sake of simplicity other classifications reduce the spectrum of opinions to three main categories: ecclesiocentrism, Christo-centrism, and theocentrism; or, equivalently, exclusi-vism, inclusivism, and 'pluralism'.

He also discusses other possible positions, such as the 'Reign of God paradigm' and the 'pneumatocentric position'. Unfortunately, he doesn't give much in the way of references... If, as he suggests, at least some of the classification he gives is reasonably common in theology, we'd want to quote whoever actually came up with it, rather than Dupuis. -- SJK

Many times using a specialized vocabulary or classification system can be helpful. However, we would need to be careful to define the terms as we're using them, for the sake of clarity. --Wesley

I added a heading for the Bahai faith, but don't really have the time right now to write anything under that heading. I think that any comprehensive discussion of the way that various religions treat the subject of pluralism has to take into account the Bahai religion, since religious pluralism is formally built into its theology (perhaps it is even fair to say that it is one of the key components to its theology). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Soulpatch (talkcontribs) 16:12, 26 September 2002 (UTC)