Is It Possible To Be Christian And Believe Other Faiths Are Legitimate

Through most of its history, Christians have held their noses in the air about competing religions. Theirs is the only true god and everyone else’s is just something made up in the human mind. However, that has not been true of all Christians all the time.

The link points to three approaches by Christians to other religions. The three are called exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism.

Exclusivism is the one that comes to mind as the public face of Christianity. It is that there is but one legitimate faith and all others are made up frauds.

Inclusivism is a bit more sophisticated. It tells us other faiths have a role to play in seeking the truth. They assist by presenting gods and values where they can be parked for a while. Other faiths are only stopping points on the path to the truth faith which is Christianity.

Inclusivism, then, is a kind of recruiting tool. Be kind, or appear kind, to those of other faiths and wait for an opening to tell them about Jesus. It sounds similar to Paul who instructed followers to pretend to be of other faiths while recruiting followers.

Pluralism, treating other faiths as completely legitimate partners to Christianity is what I think of when I think of the liberal or progressive branches of Christianity.

This branch of the faith is discarded by conservatives, of course, because it is contrary to long standing exclusivity. There is no room in the inn for those of false teaching.

19 Responses

  1. Katherine Tweed

    Where does it say, “Paul who instructed followers to pretend to be of other faiths while recruiting followers.”? Thanks

      1. Catcher

        @9;06;re. “Other faiths”- (plural)—incorrect ! Verse 20 only names the Jews. Beyond that, Paul only mentions those without the law and to the weak.

        1. Catcher 10:50 Verse 20 only names the Jews. Beyond that, Paul only mentions those without the law and to the weak.

          The favorite phrase Christians use when talking of the Bible is “what that means is…” I can use it too. What that means, when Paul was talking of the Jews, he was including the Pagans. In Galatians 2: 7-9 Paul said his mission was to convert the uncircumcised. He was referring to Pagans, “I recognize that I have been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised.”

          Of course, reference to the Jews and then to the Pagans my have been written by two different writers, one Paul and someone else. Or, maybe neither was Paul.

          As the say, I hope this helps.

          1. Catcher

            @ 11;26; No help needed. You also forgot Romans 1;16 mentions “first to the Jew, then to the Greek” Greek meaning non Jew, (gentile).

            Your 1 Cor; 20 was insufficient to the question.
            We went over this before with entech on the integrity of being all to everyone. You must have forgotten. Paul was born in Tarsus, (Turkey), making him Greek at the time, In a Roman provence, , making him Roman, and of Jewish parents,(Making him Jewish, both religiously, and culturally. and trained in Judaism. He could honestly say he could be as any one of them through the for mentioned commonality.

            For example–I was born in ND, of German father, and Norwegian mother. Lived on border of one county, and we farmed in both sides in MN.
            . I could honestly say I was a native of ND if I worked in ND, a native of MN, and resident of either county in MN, depending on where I worked. If one is in sales / marketing, commonality is an important asset, and is an honest representation. Such as it was with Paul.

            Your claim is uninformed, biased, petty, and repetitive, just as it was in the past.

          2. Catcher 1:20 Your claim is uninformed, biased, petty and repetitive..

            And, you said my reference to 1 Cor. 20 was insufficient. I think not. Few Jews converted. There was no money in converting Jews. Zealot Christians would have liked Willie Sutton. Willie was asked why he robbed banks. His answer, “That’s where the money is.” If we put aside whatever technicalities you like to dabble in, like Paul was a Greek and a Jew, and just asked the obvious, we would come to the right answer. That answer in in 1 Cor. 20. If zealots wanted to grow Christianity, what group would the look to? Not the Jews. They would go where the converts are, the Pagans. Paul said this in 1 Cor. 20.

          3. Catcher

            @ 1;50; Money wasn’t the object. “First to the Jew, then to the Greek. Christianity is available to anyone. It is not a status symbol such as being a college professor.

            Again, your argument remains petty.

    1. Henry 7:48 I think you are making sweeping generalizations here, perhaps engaging in intentional obtuseness.

      In recent decades, prayers at Christian women’s conferences prayed to the Goddess of wisdom, Sophia. Sophia apparently was considered a legitimate source of divine powers to those Christian women.

  2. Henry

    I am very aware of the WCC 1993 re-imaging conference in Minneapolis. That one however didn’t have any tornados to tear roofs off. Hope it works for them.

  3. Mike

    The correct answer depends on your view of the Bible. If you believe that the Bible only CONTAINS the word of God, then pluralism is very possible and in fact accepted as just another person’s belief. There is no right or wrong, no absolute truth, in that belief system. That’s not really a liberal opinion. It just means you don’t believe the Bible is anything special or sacred It is just another book.

    On the other hand, if you believe that the Bible IS the Word of God, then you believe all of the statements that Jesus tells us about himself. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. “I am the Resurrection and the Life. All who believe in Me will never die”. “I am the Good Shepherd. My flock knows me and I know them. I give them eternal life.” Those are just a few.

    It might be fun to talk and debate about exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing: where do you put your trust? Most Bible-believing Christians will tell you our faith is both exclusive and inclusive. We welcome all to come to the knowlege of the truth, because there is only one truth. You either believe in Christ as your Savior or you don’t. Anything else is sinking sand.

    1. Juan Ruiz

      “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. “I am the Resurrection and the Life. All who believe in Me will never die”. “I am the Good Shepherd. My flock knows me and I know them. I give them eternal life.”

      How much of this is from John, whose take is so different from the other three gospels it is studied separately?

    2. Mike 12:05 …if you believe that the Bible IS the word of God, the you believe all of the statements Jesus tells about himself, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”….

      It is a little more complicated than that. There is the question of whether Jesus ever said these things about himself. None of those unknown people who wrote the Bible said, “I heard Jesus say this, ‘I am the ..'” Since not one single person claims to have heard Jesus say this, it is about hearing it passed from person to person, generation to generation until someone wrote it down. Just what was said remains in doubt.

      Poster Juan asked you if you got those posts from the Book of John. It is a good question because the book of John was written long after Jesus was supposed to have died. That means when Jesus is quoted in John it was something today we call folklore.

      1. Juan Ruiz

        Beyond that, John is thoroughly unique among the gospels. One wonders why it was included. He doesn’t need MK’s baptism scene or MT and Lk’s nativity stories. There is no need for a Virgin birth. John has Jesus as a preexisting god “In the beginning.” There are no parables; they’re replaced by theological discourses. There is no secret message meant for only the disciples. There IS a proliferation of “I am” statements. Jesus is completely separated from his Jewish roots. They knew him not. It’s reflective that even Pilate is more insighful than they.

        This all shows how he is writing for his specific community, as do the other gospel writers for theirs. They understand the ironies, Salvation is not through the crucifixion, but through recognizing his true identity.

    1. Henry 2:27 Entech, we can all recall, wrote long posts and said they often disappeared. I have had long posts disappear too. For myself, I assumed that my concentration level slips and I hit something that deletes. Don’t know about others.

      I do dump some short posts that I don’t want taking up space on busy days but I’ve not dumped any long posts of yours.

  4. Mike

    In reply to Jon and Juan, of course, these are Christ’s words from the book of John, but the purpose of my post was not for the atheists who read this blog. Atheists have already made up their mind to reject God, so naturally they would disparage and denigrate the Bible.

    No, the audience I was reaching with this post was meant for those who are Christian, or are interested in what Christians believe, and were curiious about how a Christian would respond to the premise of your blog: What is the difference between exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism. I think that is supposed to be the point of your blog, is it not? To get people’s ideas?

    1. Juan Ruiz

      ” or are interested in what Christians believe”

      You imply Christianity is monolithic. It probably has the most diverse and contradictory theological tenets of any religion.

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