Can a Christian be a Religious Pluralist?

religion,religious pluralism

What is Pluralism?

A good definition comes from Matt Slick at the CARM website

Pluralism then would stand in opposition to the idea of an absolutely correct system or belief. Such pluralism would contradict biblical teaching that there is one absolute and supreme being (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6; 45:5), that Jesus is the only way to be saved from the righteous judgment of God (Acts 4:12), and that the Bible alone is the revealed word of God.

April 10, 2008 – 7:00 pm | Can a Christian be a Religious Pluralist?

Location | Kantzer Lecture Hall (TEDS)

Participants | Dr. Paul Knitter (Paul Tillich Chair of Systematic Theology, Union Theological Seminary) versus Dr. Harold Netland (Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Intercultural Studies and Naomi A. Fausch Chair of Missions, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

John 3:16 is undoubtedly among the most famous Bible passages of all time: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” But what happens to those who do not believe in Jesus? Is belief in the person and work of Jesus the only way to please God and thereby gain everlasting life? Or might Christians allow for the possibility that other pathways can lead to gaining God’s favor as well? What happens to people who haven’t heard the Gospel of Christ, who haven’t understood it, or who, for whatever reason, have chosen to pursue God from one of the many other (explicitly non-Christian) religious alternatives?

In this debate, Drs. Harold Netland and Paul Knitter probed these and other questions as part of the annual Trinity Debates. Formally, the evening featured a debate over the question, “Can a Christian be a Religious Pluralist?” What occurred was a passionate and engaging dialogue between two of Christendom’s most notable thinkers on the right relationship of Christianity to other religions. Dr. Knitter argues that a Christian can be a religious pluralist, while Dr. Netland suggests that a Christian cannot.

Paul Knitter is the Paul Tillich Chair of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary, and author of numerous books, including No Other Name? (NY: Orbis Books, 1985; now in its 11th printing).

Harold Netland is Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Intercultural Studies and Naomi A. Fausch Chair of Missions at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of Encountering Religious Pluralism (Downers Grove: IVP, 2001)

VIDEO by ChristonCampusCCI

Beyond Tolerance: Western Myths About Pluralism Part 2/2

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Beyond Tolerance: Western Myths About Pluralism…, posted with vodpod

Jesus Equal with God – John Piper (essential sermon)

from You can read the entire notes manuscript here.

John Piper preaches about – at least three main things going on in John 5:1-24 and that

„None of the physical miracles of Jesus was an end in itself. They all point to something more about him and about the kingdom of God and about the spiritual and moral transformations that he is working.”

Then he preaches about the 2 implications stemming from the Sonbeing in step with the Father ad vice versa:

I said that there were two implications for us from the fact that the Son stays in perfect step with the Father, and the Father acts in perfect step with the Son. One of them we just saw. In the twenty-first century world of teeming pluralism, with religions and worldviews and cultures and lifestyles competing for our allegiance, verse 23 lands like a bombshell: “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”

In other words, if you want to know if someone in another religion, or no religion, honors God (has a true worshipful relationship with God), the test that you use to know this is: Do they honor Jesus for who he really is—as the divine Son of God, the Messiah, the crucified and risen Savior of the world, the Lord of the universe and Judge of all human beings? If they don’t, then they don’t honor God. That’s the first implication.

The second is in verse 24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” If we hear the message of Jesus in the Gospel of John taken in its totality—not just some distorted part of it—and, if through that message and that person, we come to trust God as the one who sent him for our salvation, two amazing things happen.

1) We not only will have eternal life, but we already have it, and 2) we not only will not come into the judgment of condemnation, but have already passed through judgment and are safe on the other side. Jesus has become that judgment for us. When we are united to him by faith, his death becomes our death, and his crucifixion our crucifixion, and his curse on the cross our curse on the cross, and his resurrection our resurrection. We have already “passed from death to life”! This is glorious news beyond all words. Exult in this. Know this about yourself as a believer. Be made radically courageous by this.

So the first main issue in this text is the man’s healing and its purpose to lead the man to holiness. And the second main issue in this text is the way the Father and the Son are equal so that when one is acting the other is acting—with the two implications that if we don’t honor the Son, we don’t honor the Father, and if we believe on the Father through the word of Jesus, we have already passed from death to life and are on the other side of condemnation.

and lastly he talks about the issue of healing on the Sabbath:

What’s he saying? I think something like this. My Father and I created a perfect world, a paradise, and then we rested, not that we were tired, but stepped back as it were and enjoy the perfect display of our own glory revealed in our creative handiwork. That’s what Sabbath is for—the restful, focused, enjoyment of God.

But then sin entered the world, and through sin came sickness and calamity and death. And from that moment, my Father and I have been working again. We have been working—in many ways that you don’t understand—to restore a Sabbath paradise to the universe. We have been working to overcome sin and sickness and death.

Even your own law, which contains the Sabbath command, was part of our working to conquer sin and hold back the miseries of unrighteousness and point you forward to a Messiah, a Savior, who would come and perform the decisive acts of restoration and transformation toward the new heavens and the new earth.

When I heal a man, and intentionally do it on the Sabbath, I am showing you something about myself. What was happening at the pool of Bethesda was that my Father and I were revealing the world that is coming. It is a world in which there will be no sickness and a world in which there will be no sin. “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

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