Contemplating Religious Plurality

By Anthony Fisher

For quite some time, I have been pondering the idea that truth can be found in more places than one.  More specifically, truth as an ultimate reality finds its home in several religious practices and not exclusively in Christianity.  In time, I will expound on this claim.  As a Christian, I ascribe to Biblical teachings and hold strong to a number of theological doctrines.  I believe that Jesus is by far the clearest revelation of God to humanity. What continues to leave me without words is that God came to encounter man within the scope of recorded history.  Hundreds lived and experienced this man who was God. God came and experienced the human condition.. He became man to identify with man all for the sake of returning us back to Himself! How amazing!  No longer is man striving to draw nearer to God.  God bankrupts Heaven to draw nearer to man!  This is essential and highly unique to the Gospel.  This separates Christianity from any religious practice ever known.

Here is where I diverge.  Am I saying that all truth is found in Christianity?  Absolutely not.  While I do hold strong to the idea that God is most revealed through the person of Jesus, I also believe that truth as an ultimate reality is and can be found in a multiplicity of paths taken.  Why? All truth comes from God!  How inexhaustible is God that He might reveal a shard of Himself in an idea or in a system set far apart from our own?

How small are our minds that we would fathom that any revealing of the divine must take place within our own religious practice?  The Western world is terribly guilty of this.  Countless practices are guilty of this.  We take a shard of God and build a temple around it saying, “this is God holistically and completely.”  We take the Gospel of Christ and say this.  We do the same with Eastern medicine and Buddhist meditation.  We take a truth, big or small and build our worlds around it.  Here’s my proposition: What if we were able to jigsaw each of these truths together according to size and place?  For instance… There is nothing wrong with the Buddhist practice of meditation, but in proper context.  Where there is an emptying of self and nothing more, what if we gave ourselves to be filled by the Holy Spirit after?  What if we saw traces of the Gospel in truths across the board?  These things that we have coined as demonic for so long out of fear could be understood and possibly give us greater understanding than we could ever perceive.  This, to me, is the idea of religious plurality, holding on to the Gospel of Christ and accepting his truths wherever they might land.

Visit Anthony’s blog Ale & Clamor, a blog about beer, faith, and everything in between!

Anthony Fisher is a student in Religious Studies at Georgia State University. His areas of interest are Early Christianity and the 1st Century Church, and Religion & Literature.  Anticipating graduation in December 2011, Anthony plans to pursue a career in writing. His 1st novel, Deleminus, is to be published by the end of the year.

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