Religious Pluralism has become common in our daily lives. Not only do we live in a religiously diverse nation, one that claims to uphold each individual’s right of choose their faith, we also live in a culture that has adopted the belief that all religions are fundamentally the same. I’m daily confronted with the reality that many people believe all religions are true, teach the same thing, and lead to the same place.
Yet any serious student of religions will quickly be able to see that religious pluralism as a belief system is contradictory and cannot sustain itself. Religions that make contrary truth claims on everything from the nature of God, the material world, morality, humanity, and eternity cannot be fundamentally the same; it’s impossible. Also, to claim that all religions are equal in their beliefs is to misunderstand and misrepresent the rich variety of religious observance.
Still, the belief that “all roads lead to Rome” is prevalent and for the Christian poses a unique challenge. How do we communicate what we believe, and why we believe it, in a way that remains true to the message of the Bible and at the same time respects the diverse worldviews that surround us? As I have thought through this question, I believe there are four principles that can help Christians explain their faith graciously in a culture that promotes the worldview of Religious Pluralism. These principles form the acronym DARE Continue reading
Thanks to the History Channel I discovered that on this day, April 12, 1633:
Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei [went] on trial in Rome for challenging Church orthodoxy, postulating that the Earth revolves around the sun. Chief inquisitor Father Vincenzo Maculano da Firenzuol found Galileo guilty of heresy. The astronomer spent the remainder of his days under house arrest.
If you’ve spent any time around debate between science and religion, you’ve heard about this story at least once. We’re told Galileo was a man whose scientific discovery went against the backward understanding of the Church, which led to his persecution. The problem is that this is not the full story and twists what really happened in unnecessary ways. It is unfortunate that the History Channel has decided to go along with the partial story, and not the full story. Continue reading
Living in the Midwest, the first days of spring, when the temperature stays above 40 degrees two days or longer, is a time of celebration. Coats stay in closets and t-shirts come out of drawers, while children and adults take advantage of the fresh air that won’t cause frostbite.
But this morning, as I went for the first of many warmer weather walks, the same mixed emotions that I experience every year at this time came upon me. The beginning of spring has always been a time of joyful anticipation and deep frustration for me. The rising temperatures and brighter sun awaken the hope and excitement of life. Soon everything will be green; flowers will be blooming; the sky will deepen to a cheerful blue that will eventually transform into a warm haze. But none of this has taken place… yet. The ground is still frozen; everything is still lifeless. The world is still draped in the browns, grays, and dreariness of death. And this always depresses me. I long for life, but instead I’m confronted with decay. Continue reading
This past Christmas I received a Kindle (thanks Mom and Dad), and the first book I chose to read on it was Why Trust Jesus? by Dave Sterrett. I was not disappointed with my choice. It is an excellent book, so imagine my excitement when I discovered that it is free on Kindle during Holy Week (the week between Palm and Easter Sunday).
In Why Trust Jesus? Dave looks at common intellectual and experiential questions we all have on Jesus’ reliability. The subtitle of the book summarizes this well: “An honest look at doubts, plans, hurts, desires, fears, questions, and pleasure.” Why should we trust Jesus in the midst of competing ideas, ideals, and emotional options? Continue reading
For the past three weeks I’ve turned on the History Channel with over 68 million viewers to watch The Bible. The mini-series produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey has taken Hollywood by storm; it has surprised millions with its popularity; and it has caused the religious to stand up and cheer that the sacred is getting a in positive portrayal. As one review put it, “This time, Hollywood got it right.” Yet in the midst of all the positive hype there are some who have held back their praise, frustrated or downright upset with how it is interpreting the biblical narrative.
This has left me with the following question: did Hollywood get it right, or is this min-series an interpretive failure? Whether you are a Christian who is familiar with the narrative of the Bible or someone newly exposed to its stories, this is an important question. The Bible makes extraordinary claims about its authority and the priority it should have in our lives. For example, 2 Timothy 3:16 states:
All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, and for training in righteousness.
And 2 Peter 1:20-21 claims:
Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, it seems only right that we move from passive TV watchers to evaluating if The Bible series is worthy of our praise. Rather than go into all of my reasons for or against the series, I’d like to suggest three discretionary tips for your consideration as you continue to watch this series unfold. Continue reading
Recently a friend lent me her copy of The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University. Written by Kevin Roose, the book highlights his experiences as a secular college kid from Brown University who spent a semester amidst the evangelical Christian culture of Liberty University.
The premise of the book immediately piqued my interest both personally and professionally. I grew up in an evangelical home not far from Liberty University (LU), some of my closest friends studied there, and I went to an evangelical university that has many similarities with LU. How would Kevin respond to and evaluate the culture I’ve always known? Continue reading
Religious Pluralism is a very common belief in our world today. It holds that all religions are fundamentally the same and valid, teaching the same message and achieving the same religious goals. In other words, all religions are correct. All paths lead to Rome. All journeys lead to the top of the same mountain.
This belief system has led me to ask, if Religious Pluralism in our culture had a creed what would it look like? What would it affirm? I think it might look something like this. Continue reading