Friday, October 16, 2009

Stating the obvious (or what should be)...Christianity, Religious Pluralists, & Intolerance

In the USAToday, opinion columnist Tom Krattenmaker has an interesting piece called, "And I Like To Thank God Almighty." Seems he's a bit miffed about evangelical Christians [insert "join the club" here]. Oh, he has praise for many of them and the way they comport themselves. But there's that little problem with Christianity that they preach that he doesn't like.
"If their take on God and truth and life is the only right one — which their creed boldly states — everyone else is wrong."
Of course, Krattenmaker thinks this is perfectly unacceptable in our pluralistic society--you might even say it is the unforgivable sin of religious pluralism.

But what he and other folks who hold similar views can't seem to get is their own bigotry, defined of course as an intolerance towards other's beliefs and opinions. What makes this sort of bigotry especially deceptive is that it masquerades as being open-minded, tolerant, self-evident. He laments that evangelical Christians have "little appreciation for the beliefs of the rest of us," all the while SHOUTING FROM THE ROOFTOPS the fact that he has little appreciation for the beliefs of evangelical Christians. Ahem, physician, heal thyself.

Let's hit the ball back into their court by restating his central assertion this way:
"If their (Krattenmaker & other so-called religious pluralists) take on God and truth and life is the only right one--which their [pluralistic] creed boldly states--everyone else is wrong."
But being blinded by his own zeal, Krattenmaker can't see is that when they say, "There can't be one religious truth, and Christians--quoting Jesus--are wrong [John 14:6]," that itself is a religious belief and an arrogantly smug claim to knowledge. IOW, Krottenmaker are saying that they perceive more of reality than all the religions of the world, and so they can make the audacious claim that they know more of ultimate reality than, say, Christians, Jews, or Muslims."

And make no mistake about it, Krattenmaker believes so strongly in rightness of his viewpoint that he is zealously preaching it from the nation-wide pulpit of The USA Today. He's evangelizing trying to win converts to his own narrow and arrogant viewpoints. Or to put it the way we like to in the West, he's shoving his views down everyone else's throats.

It's better if we'd all get off our high horse and just admit that we all are exclusivists. We all believe that our views are correct. The better question is to ask, "How shall we then live?" "How do we get along?" Which worldview / philosophy / religion provides resources for dealing with those who are different?

As for me, I'm sticking with the resources provided by Jesus who prayed for, welcomed, and laid down his life for his enemies. Anybody got a trump for that one?

Related Posts:
*A Conversation About Christianity & Exclusivity

*Check out Penn's thoughts on the subject (& he's an atheist & no friend of Christianity!):
"I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward–and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself–how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?"

No comments: