“I always like to see that,” my friend said, as we watched a family walk by. It was a full house, grandparents, parents, and children – the kind of thing you don’t see in public very much. Being a great believer in the power of family, I agreed with him.
“It gives kids a good look at the way people other than their parents do things,” he continued. “It teaches them that there’s not just one correct belief, one way to do things. And you know, the same is true of religion as well.”
Unfortunately for him, he was wrong. Fortunately for both of us, I held my tongue instead of tearing him apart on the spot. But that’s the kind of statement that’s so prevalent, yet so abysmally ignorant, that I couldn’t let it slide, so I’ll issue my rebuttal here instead.
His problem is with Christianity’s “exclusive truth claims” – the statements by Jesus that he is the only way, that there is only one correct way to believe, and that everyone who disagrees is wrong. It sounds very intolerant and bigoted to put it that way, but there you go. Many people, my friend included, are offended by the implications of that, and attempt to bridge the gap by insisting that there cannot only be one way to believe, and that other ways must be correct; this belief is called pluralism. However, his statement is self-contradictory.
In saying “There cannot be only one way,” he himself is making an exclusive truth claim. He is saying, “There is only one correct belief, which is pluralism, and everyone who disagrees is wrong.” Do you spot the problem? Isn’t that the exact same exclusive truth claim that he said nobody could make? Yet he is making it. My friend is exhibiting the exact same attitude that he is condemning.
If religion were merely a system of morality, then people like my friend might have a point, because in a vacuum, who can say that one system of morality is better than any other? But that is not what religion is. It is an answer and a solution to the question, “What is fundamentally wrong with humanity?” There can really only be one answer to this question. If there is one thing wrong with humanity (sin), then there must be one solution (Christ); any religion which fails to address sin will be inadequate, and if sin is not the problem, any religion which claims such must be wrong and misguided. If there were five things wrong with humanity, any religion which addressed all five must be correct, and all others would be either inadequate (failing to resolve all five) or excessive (solving all five but introducing extra, unneeded baggage). No one can coherently say that all belief systems are correct.
In their call for pluralism, people like my friend are actually being as offensive as, and possibly more offensive than, any religion. I believe that God has declared that there is only one way to have a relationship with him, one solution to the question of what is wrong with me. Most religions on earth make similar exclusive truth claims. Pluralists, on the other hand, would tell us that we are ALL wrong, that every single religion on earth misunderstands God because there is no way that our exclusive truth claims could be right. The irony is that they, who often do not believe in God, are telling us the correct way to interpret God. Do you see what they are doing? They are saying that their belief system is the only correct one, that everyone else is wrong, while simultaneously saying that no one can claim to have exclusive truth. It’s the clearest example of hypocrisy that I could possibly illustrate.
Not only is it hypocrisy, it is also bad logic and lazy thinking. A call for pluralism is essentially the same as saying that there are no absolute truths. If there were absolutes, of course, then someone would be absolutely right and someone else would be absolutely wrong. This catchphrase, “There is no absolute truth,” is a favorite both of postmodernists and pluralists everywhere, but it’s merely another nonsense phrase.
First of all, it is self-contradictory. If it is true that there are no absolutes, then the statement “There are no absolutes” must be false, because it is an absolute statement. Additionally, if there are no absolutes, then the statement “No one can make an exclusive truth claim” is also false, because it is also an absolute. The same is true of the statement “All beliefs are equally valid.” The pluralist mindset is completely built on self-contradiction and paradox.
It reminds me of when I was younger and fed up with the idea of New Year’s resolutions. So I said, “My resolution is to have no resolutions,” until someone pointed out that I had one resolution to have zero resolutions. I was being self-contradictory. Of course, I was ten years old at the time, so I laughed it off, but there are a disturbing number of people whose entire worldview is built on the same kind of nonsensical statements.
Besides, even a ten-year-old knows that absolutes really do exist. My car, for example, is red. It is not white, and it is not green. It could be either of those things if I wanted it to, but it would have to stop being red. One statement is absolutely true of my car (“My car is red”) and every other color-related statement about my car is absolutely false. You could say this about virtually everything in life. Gravity absolutely holds me to earth. You are absolutely either a man or a woman – even if you were to change from one to the other, you can only be one at a time. We obviously have no problem with the idea of absolutes because we structure our life around them. Only when it comes to important matters like morality and eternity do people start to get squeamish. But let me ask you this. If God has built the universe in such a way that it is friendly to absolutes, why would he break character when it comes to spirituality? Why would knowledge and worship of him be the one and only area in which absolutes were not the answer?
Science spends its entire existence looking for laws that explain the way the world works. They write elaborate equations to explain the way planets orbit around the sun, the speed at which gravity pulls a skydiver to earth, the rate at which plants photosynthesize. Do they not understand that all of these are absolutes? All of the things they describe as “natural laws” are merely God’s absolutes for governing the universe. If he has such elaborate laws, extending even down to the folding of proteins within each one of our hundred-billion red blood cells, why would he decide that spirituality, the answer to that fundamental question of what’s wrong with humanity, was the one willy-nilly area where anything goes?
Doesn’t he care infinitely more about people than he does about gravity and photosynthesis? Does he love Mars more than he loves you? If there is something wrong with humanity, if we are allowing ourselves to be less than he designed us to be, don’t you think that helping us would be his first and foremost obsession?
What’s wrong with us is that we are the only creature on earth that does not obey God’s absolutes. Proteins fold when they are supposed to fold, gravity pulls every creature down to earth, but humans do not obey God’s laws. God says “Love me with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” And we say, “No thanks. I love me more than I love my neighbor. I’m going to live however I want to. My own happiness is most important to me.” God has told us that we will be happy and satisfied, and the world will be a better place, if we abide by those two simple absolute rules, and we refuse. That rebellion is what’s wrong with humanity, and the only remedy – abandoning our rebellion and being reconciled to God through Christ – is the only solution.
I can’t put it more simply than that. God loves absolutes, he gave us absolute rules to live by, and we rejected him. And now pluralists are saying that we, the ones who broke his laws and ruined the world with our own selfishness, can follow whatever belief system we want and everything will be okay in the end. Their philosophy is so illogical that it would be hilarious, if not for the fact that some people truly believe it. That turns the hilarity into tragedy.
Now you’ve seen the two crucial hypocrisies of pluralism. You’ve seen that they condemn people who profess to know the only way, while claiming that pluralism is the only way. You’ve seen that they reject absolutes while building their entire philosophy around absolutes. What’s left to say? A philosophy that is self-contradictory is surely not worth following, and pluralism is nothing if not self-contradictory. In a world where it is increasingly unpopular to have an opinion, let us rally back to the cross, and hold tight to the things that are worth holding.
Jim Barringer is a 26-year-old writer, musician, teacher, and traveler, serving at The Church of Life (.com) in Orlando, Florida. More of his work can be found at facebook.com/jmbarringer. This work may be reprinted for any purpose so long as this bio and statement of copyright is included.
Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com-CHRISTIAN WRITERS
- Anime and the Misnomer of Christianity (beneaththetangles.wordpress.com)
- The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition, 3 – Theological reasons (epages.wordpress.com)
- God Is Too Big for One Religion (str.typepad.com)
- Is the point of religious belief to be sincere or to be correct? (winteryknight.wordpress.com)
- Why do people become atheists? Can an unwise person be a Christian? (winteryknight.wordpress.com)
- The Challenge of Pluralism: “Too many gods” (daniel.favand.net)
- Relative Truth and Absolute Truth (the2012scenario.com)
- The blind men and the elephant: an argument for religious pluralism? (winteryknight.wordpress.com)
- Only your relationship with God is true. (encounters-with-god.com)
- On a Tangent (citizentom.com)