Key Words: Tolerance, Religious Diversity, Liberal, Progressive Christians, Left, Religious Pluralism
As I wrote earlier in December
One of the first lessons I learned in seminary is that you cannot divorce religion from culture. Every religion carries with it the mark of the culture that gave it birth. Either religions will adapt to cultural change, or the culture will adapt to religious change. Change one and you change the other. It’s as simple and as complex as that. . .
The second lesson I learned in seminary (a liberal mainline Protestant seminary) was that there is a major investment by liberal (mainline) denominations in promoting Religious Pluralism in the name of Social Justice and cultural diversity.
The third lesson I learned in seminary is that any conservative thought openly espoused by either student or professor was tantamount to heresy!!! You cannot progress in a “progressive” institution if you are even the slightest bit conservative. While the liberal seminaries give lip-service to tradition, Christian tradition is merely a tool for deconstructive argumentation.
Before I entered the seminary, I was somewhat politically naive. That changed rapidly as I learned that theology and politics are intimately linked. For years mainline seminaries have functioned as the religious arm of the far left progressives. Admission of any conservative political bent is literally the kiss of death. No doubt there are many closet conservative professors who would not long survive if their personal politics were known. Students hoping for plumb assignments following ordination are well-aware of which sides their daily bread is buttered.
Social Justice (as commonly understood today): Social justice mostly refers to an ideal of society, where "justice" refers to economic status rather than to the administration of laws. It is based on the idea of a society which gives individuals and groups fair treatment and a just share of the benefits of society, although what is "fair treatment" and a "just share" must remain unclear or subject to interpretation. . .
Think: Redistribution of wealth from wealthy (imperialistic) nations of the West to poor 3rd and 4th world nations.
What is Religious Pluralism? In its strongest sense, religious pluralism holds that no single religion can claim absolute authority to teach absolute truth. The word of God is not literal religion. On the contrary, religion attempts to describe God's utterances. Given the finite and fallible nature of human beings, no religious text written by Man can absolutely describe God, God's will, or God's counsel, since it is God apart from Man who reveals the divine thoughts, intentions and volition perfectly. . . Giving one religion or denomination special rights that are denied to others can weaken religious pluralism. . Relativism, the belief that all religions are equal in their value and that none of the religions gives access to absolute truth, is an extreme form of inclusivism. Likewise, syncretism, the attempt to take over creeds of practices from other religions or even to blend practices or creeds from different religions into one new faith is an extreme form of inter-religious dialogue, which just tries to seek common ground between what already exists in the different religions. Syncretism must not be confused with ecumenism, the attempt to bring closer and eventually reunite different denominations of one religion that have a common origin but were separated by a schism.
Here’s an excerpt from a good article by Jim Leffel “Christian Witness in a Pluralistic Age”
. . .I suggest that the primary barrier to getting a hearing for the gospel on the vast majority of campuses today is ideologically driven pluralism. Pluralism takes the fact of the world's rich cultural diversity and makes an "ism" out of it. It doesn't merely extol the virtue of understanding and appreciating cultural differences; virtually everyone is for that. Pluralism holds that distinct cultural beliefs are true for that culture--but not for cultures that operate out of a different "paradigm." Pluralists say that truth is a "social construction." It is created through social consensus and tradition, not discovered in reality that exists independently of our beliefs. Truth is subjective interpretation, not correspondence between our beliefs and reality.
Since pluralists consider truth to be a cultural construct, it is the height of arrogance to try to convert someone from their paradigm (especially if it's non-western) to Christianity. That's what most people mean when they say that Christianity is intolerant. But should we accept the pluralistic definition of "tolerance"? . . .
. . .The notion that truth is a social construct is both unbiblical and dangerous. Truth matters. It's no mere philosophical abstraction. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." Our commission is to spread the good news to all the peoples of the earth. To make effective inroads in today's multi-ethnic, culturally diverse university, we must do the hard work of engaging the thinking behind pluralism and the demands of this new meaning of tolerance.
For a further understanding of how pervasive Religious Pluralism (see Progressive Chrisitanity) has become in the West visit these sites: Oh and be sure to check out their links to the Progressive Christian denominations and organizations.
The Pluralism Project (Harvard University)
Religious Diversity News (check out their article links on Islamophobia. Talk about naivety!!!)
UCSB Religious Studies Department
Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC
The Religion and Immigration Project (TRIP) at USF
Hispanic Churches in American Public Life Project
Muslims in American Public Square
Religious Pluralism in Southern California (blod highlights added by me)
A brief overview of the Religious Pluralism in Southern California Project
The Religious Pluralism in Southern California project examines the impact that religious pluralism is having on civic life in Southern California. The project is funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation.
Our inherited paradigms about religious pluralism offer two possible scenarios: assimilation to a mainline culture or social and cultural fragmentation-bubble or Babel. Neither seems to capture the dynamics of contemporary pluralism. Rather than assimilating the "American way of life" many new immigrant communities appear to be actively negotiating the terms of social life. This negotiation process takes place in the context of public institutions and in response to public events.
Furthermore,the process takes place in the context of a cultural system that attributes meaning to such constructions as race, gender, class, and religion and urges a normative response to the experience of diversity. Pluralism is more than just diversity, we argue; pluralism is meaningful diversity. . .
It’s important to remember that religious dialogue doesn’t work (nor does Religious Pluralism) when one of the parties is intent on the total destruction of your religion and your culture!!! So as the growing number of cloud-walking Religious Pluralists devise more ways to engage Islam (as if Islam was some kind of monolithic religion), they ignore the very real threats Islamification poses to all religious freedoms. See “Our Vulnerable Religious Freedoms”
To get a good idea of how all mainline Christian denominations (including Roman Catholicism) are rapidly moving toward Religious Pluralism, and as a result, handing radical Islam the rope with which to hang Christianity, please read “Praying to the Buddha”.
[COMMONWEAL Magazine, January 26, 2007 / Volume CXXXIV, Number 2]
This article was written by Peter C. Phan, a Vietnamese American, who holds the Ignacio Ellacuría Chair of Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University. He has written or edited more than twenty books and three hundred essays. His latest work includes a trilogy: Christianity with an Asian Face, In Our Own Tongues, and Being Religious Interreligiously (Orbis Books). This essay has been funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.
The article begins with a story about Phan’s Christian mother who prayed to the Buddah. Religious Pluralism makes that all possible! Here’s an excerpt:
. . .How, then, could an old woman like my mother, God-loving and church-fearing, a twice-a-day churchgoer raised to believe that no one except Catholics can be saved, do what she did that day in that pagoda? And what, exactly, happened between the 1960s and 2000 that enabled her to honor the Buddhist nun, pray to the Buddha, and contribute money to the maintenance of the pagoda? The answer lies in the dramatic expansion during our era of interreligious dialogue, particularly as it has been espoused by the church since Vatican II. Being religious interreligiously. . . .
Contemporary religious pluralism, in Asia and increasingly in the United States, requires interreligious dialogue not only at the theological level, but at the personal level too. It challenges one to be religious interreligiously. . . .
. . .as Paul Knitter has helpfully explained in Introducing Theologies of Religions: replacement (there is only one true religion), fulfillment (one true religion fulfills other religions), mutuality (there are many true religions which are called to dialogue), and acceptance (there are many religions which have different ends). More simply, theologies of religions are often categorized in three models: exclusivism, pluralism, and inclusivism. Exclusivism holds that there is only one savior and one true religion or church and that no salvation is possible outside of them. At the other end of the spectrum, pluralism holds that there are many saviors and different paths leading to salvation, none necessarily superior to the others. Inclusivism maintains that although there is only one savior and one true church, salvation remains possible outside them-though it is always ultimately dependent on them. . .
The official teaching of the Catholic Church, at least as articulated in Dominus Iesus, favors inclusivism while warning against the dangers of pluralism. . .
Christ is the sacrament, the definitive symbol of God’s salvation for all humanity. This is what the salvific uniqueness and universality means in the Indian context. That, however, does not mean there cannot be other symbols, valid in their own ways, which the Christian sees as related to the definitive symbol, Jesus Christ. The implication of all this is that for hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings, salvation is seen as being channeled to them not in spite of but through and in their various sociocultural and religious traditions. We cannot, then, deny a priori a salvific role for these non-Christian religions.
Interreligious dialogue can be practiced by people of faith, irrespective of educational level, social standing, and religious status, and is urgently needed in the conflict-ridden political and religious climate of the post-9/11 United States. Such dialogue is not merely a preparatory step toward peacemaking and reconciliation; it constitutes the very process of peacemaking and reconciliation itself, a process that occurs precisely in the acts of living together, working together, and praying together. These dialogues are powerful means to correct biases, erase deep-seated hatreds, and heal ancient wounds. By promoting communication, grassroots activism toward peace and justice, and above all, shared experiences of the Divine or the Absolute in spite of religious differences, such dialogue helps forge a new way of life.
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