I was interested in exploring the details of inclusivism and pluralism. For inane accusations of heresy aside which of these I agree with depends on the wording.
The article mentioned gives the following definitions:
Inclusivism : This is the view that there is one way to be saved, Jesus Christ, but that some who do not follow Christ in this life will nonetheless be saved through Him.
Pluralism : This is the view that there are many ways to be saved.
Accordingly I do not agree with either of these. I believe instead that there is no way to be saved. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” There is no thing which you can do or way which you can follow in order to be saved. Salvation never belongs to any of us. There is no way we can hold God in bondage in order to require Him to save us. God alone is the author and owner of salvation. This is something He alone can do, and that is all there is to it.
Though I suppose if we overlook this detail in the wording then some looking at the whole of my belief would probably think I fit the inclusivist category. But mostly I think the categories are bogus. Take for example the biggest argument for exclusivism in Jesus words, “no one comes to the Father except through me.” Well duh… since Jesus and the Father are one God then obviously that would follow. But does this mean that Christianity owns God and God cannot act outside of Christianity as if He had turned it all over to Christianity to speak for Him and dispense salvation? No way in hell!
I also do not agree with another common definition of “pluralism” that “all religions are equally valid.” That is absurd. Are the human sacrifice religions of the Aztecs equally valid. Don’t make me laugh!
The Wikipedia article on religious pluralism, however, gives quite a number of meanings to this term and I seem to agree with most of them.
1 As the name of the worldview according to which one’s own religion is not held to be the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus the acknowledgement that at least some truths and true values exist in other religions.
2 As acceptance of the concept that two or more religions with mutually exclusive truth claims are equally valid, this may be considered a form of either toleration (a concept that arose as a result of the European wars of religion) or moral relativism.
3 The understanding that the exclusive claims of different religions turn out, upon closer examination, to be variations of universal truths that have been taught since time immemorial. This is called Perennialism (based on the concept of philosophia perennis ) or Traditionalism.
4 Sometimes as a synonym for ecumenism, i.e., the promotion of some level of unity, co-operation, and improved understanding between different religions or different denominations within a single religion.
5 As a term for the condition of harmonious co-existence between adherents of different religions or religious denominations.
6 As a social norm and not merely a synonym for religious diversity.
The only one here I disagree with is number 3.
Meanwhile the wikipedia article on inclusivism gives the following versions:
- Traditional Inclusivism, which asserts that the believer’s own views are absolutely true, and believers of other religions are correct insofar as they agree with that believer.
- Relativistic Inclusivism, which asserts that an unknown set of assertions are Absolutely True, that no human being currently living has yet ascertained Absolute Truth, but that all human beings have partially ascertained Absolute Truth.
The first is absurd while the second is much more reasonable. But I wouldn’t take the latter to mean that beliefs which are contradict each other as stated cannot both be true. There is still this belief I have that reality is not entirely objective but that there is an irreducibly subjective aspect of reality which is responsive to our beliefs and desires, and thus not the same for everyone. One of the implications of this is that truth and reality isn’t the only issue. If part of reality is responsive to our beliefs and desires then there is also a matter of simply which is better.
For example… I consider theism and atheism to be both valid belief systems. But that doesn’t mean that both are equally as good. Atheists will often say that it would be nice if there were a God but we simply have to accept the cold hard reality that there is none. But if there is a portion of reality responsive to our desires and belief then that represents a flaw in this claim by these atheists, doesn’t it?