The Problem with Pluralism

April 4th, 2011 by BEBlogger

Years ago, a Chicago eatery displayed a sign stating:  O’Hara’s Pizza, best Chinese food in town. This ad demonstrates America’s “melting pot” image.    Because various ethnic groups live in such close proximity, we’ve become familiar with other culture’s customs, food, and tastes.

We are also exposed to various religious views.  This has led many to embrace religious pluralism.  Pluralism may be expressed in various ways, but essentially it means all religions are true, or at least equally valid.  All roads lead to Rome, and all religions provide salvation.  Many professing Christians embrace this view.

Pluralists deny “exclusivism,” the belief that one religion is the sole means of salvation.  Christian exclusivists (including me) counter with John 14:6, where Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father but through me.”

Such texts place the biblical evidence clearly on the side of the Christian exclusivist, prompting pluralist counter arguments.  I’ll address just one popular argument in favor of pluralism:  “It doesn’t matter what one believes, as long as he is sincere.”  That sounds very tolerant, but as an exclusivist, I reject this sincerity claim for several reasons.

First, if we claim sincerity of belief saves us, then to find truth we need search no further than what we already believe.  It saves a lot of time and energy to just claim sincerity and forget it.  No need to change, question, or investigate our beliefs.  This lets the pluralist off the hook, but it sounds sort of lazy to me.

Second, the Bible teaches that sincerity doesn’t save.  Many religious figures in Scripture were judged for idolatry or dead ritualism despite sincerity.  Why?  Because our problem is not insincerity but sin, which condemns us regardless of our level of sincerity.

Moreover, if sincerity validates religious belief, then the 9/11 terrorists (and others like them) practiced a valid faith.  A pluralist may not want to go there, but logically that’s where his position takes him.

Fourth, how sincere is sincere enough?  The word sincere comes from a Latin word meaning “without wax,” referring to unadulterated honey.  Are you “wax free,” totally free from corruption in your beliefs?  Are you flawlessly sincere, with no hypocrisy or admixture of pure and impure in your devotion?  Does sincere mean “totally sincere,” or does God accept a little insincerity?  A moderate amount of insincerity?  A whole bunch?

The fact is God accepts no insincerity; thus we need a Savior.  We cannot earn salvation, but God in His grace provides it.  Because all are sinners, fallen short of God’s perfect standards, we need to trust Jesus Christ who did for others what we could never do – provide a once for all sacrifice that God’s just wrath against our sin would be appeased and removed.  Through faith in Jesus Christ alone we can be forgiven, renewed, delivered from the power and penalty of sin, and receive the gift of eternal life.  Only Jesus was (and is) wax free, and only He can save us.