Christianity and Pluralism (4): A Christian Agnostic

After the last three days of posts, you might get the sense that I think I know a whole lot more than I do. Well, that very well may be true. I guess only time will tell. But if you get the feeling that I think I know everything….I will respectfully disagree. (Bummer for me though.) In fact, an essential part of my belief in God is that he is incomprehensible. And if I can’t know everything about him, there’s sure to be more about this world I am quite ignorant about.

Lesslie Newbigin writes:

…it is essential to the integrity of our witness to this new reality [or the good news of Christianity] that we recognize that to be its witnesses does not mean to be the possessors of all truth. It means to be placed on the path by following which we are led toward the truth. (The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 12)

In the Christian tradition I come from, there is a huge emphasis on the fact (and I use that word intentionally, cf. yesterday’s post) that God is incomprehensible. We cannot wrap our mind around him. As much as I write about God on this blog, Read more of this post

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Christianity and Pluralism (2): Coercion and Corruption of the Christian Message

Yesterday, I suggested that while a pluralistic attitude toward religion (i.e. saying that all religions are equally in the dark about ultimate things) is admirably humble, it is also deeply flawed. It turns out that while the pluralist says, “No single religion or worldview can get to the whole truth. So we should all just reject authoritative dogma and accept each others’ positions,” they are, at the same time, contradicting all those religions (like Christianity, Islam, various forms of Buddhism, etc.) that do make claims to ultimate truth. In fact, what the pluralist is doing is exactly what they tell others not to do–they are saying that their worldview encompasses and explains all other worldviews.

So why make this mistake? Why pretend to be inclusive and intellectually humble when we are actually exalting our worldview above all of the world’s great religions? Read more of this post

Christianity and Pluralism (1): Groping the Elephant

Religious symbols from the top nine organised ...

“In a pluralist society such as ours, any confident statement of ultimate belief, any claim to announce the truth about God and his purpose for the world, is liable to be dismissed as ignorant, arrogant, dogmatic. We have no reason to be frightened of this accusation.” (Lesslie Newbigin).

If you don’t believe anyone should impress their beliefs on anyone else, this week’s series is for you. If you do believe you should impress your beliefs on everyone else, this week’s series is for you. If you are simply curious about what it means for a Christian to tell someone about her faith in a culture that often tells us such an act is arrogant and unloving, this week’s series is for you. If Christians have been unloving to you when telling you about their faith, but you know that doesn’t rule out the whole religion, this week’s series is for you.

Starting today, I am going to write a series of five blogs derived from Lesslie Newbigin‘s book The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. This won’t even come close to offering the full scope of his thought on the subject, but I hope it will give you a helpful starting point for thinking about how Christianity/Christians ought to think about themselves in a pluralist society.

I’ll start off with a charming little story, Read more of this post