Thursday, March 31, 2011

Social Pluralism Vs. Metaphysical Pluralism

By now I'm guessing anyone who is reading this blog is involved enough with religious discussion and culture that you have seen the Coexist bumper stickers or the Tolerance bumper stickers. 

The current chapter we are covering in our high school apologetic book, Without a Doubt, is entitled, "Do All Religions Lead to God?" 

All religions lead to God.  Is that what people who have the Tolerance bumper sticker on the back of their car mean?  The idea that all religions are equally valid and true is metaphysical pluralism.  There is also social pluralism, which recognizes that there are drastic differences in religions, to such a degree that they do in fact contradict each other, and that they can't all be true, however, a social pluralist recognizes the need for freedom of expression and belief and tolerance of various religious beliefs for peace in society. 

Since it does say tolerance, or co-exists, depending on which sticker is being referenced, this sticker could in fact mean social pluralism and not metaphysical pluralism.  One student says he knows a family at his Christian church who has this on their car.  It's likely they're social pluralist since they are at a Christian church regularly.  He doesn't personally know the family, he's just seen the car in the lot.

I bring this up because this could be a great opener for conversation with someone who has a tolerance bumper sticker; "What does this mean to you?"  Depending on the response, a Christian reply would differ.

If the person views it as a call to social pluralism, then an appropriate response could be, "Oh cool.  I'm a Christian and I agree with you.  There is a definite need for tolerance of different religious and philosophical world views in society.  We need this tolerance in order to have meaningful discussions concerning faith.  However, it's good to note that religions have contradicting teachings and can't all be true.  Some people think this what your sticker means.  Did you know that?"  You can continue after some dialog to share examples of how they contradict and share how Christianity is the only free religion in that salvation is from God and not from human merit, or how Jesus is God in the flesh in Christianity and in other religions, such as Islam, he is just a prophet, or in Judaism, just a heretic that was crucified. 

If the person has a metaphysical pluralistic view of the world's religions, then you can ask more questions about why they think so and express your understanding for wanting this to be true, but kindly share how this can't be true based on the law of non-contradiction.  A Christian can then guide and show how they contradict each other while sharing who Christ is as revealed in the Bible, or even lead the person into social pluralism and not metaphysical pluralism. 

Either view of the tolerance bumper sticker leads to an opportunity to present who Jesus is and what he has done for mankind. 


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