Quotes and Excerpts

PLURALISM in the Church

Skip to definitions of Pluralism or Universalism

For background information, read Trading Truth for Spiritual Oneness

Conforming the Church to the New Millennium


Ideally, (from an inter-faith global perspective) pluralism implies that all religions can co-exist in a tolerant, harmonious way. But practically, it means that all religions must conform to a planned universal standard, so that any one set of doctrines or values no longer offend those who follow other gods.

UNESCO's Declaration on Tolerance

Declaration on the Role of Religion in the Promotion of a Culture of Peace

From the Encyclopedia Britannica


Christianity:  Ecumenism in the 20th century

Modern views

The 20th century has seen an explosion of publicly available information concerning the wider religious life of humanity, as a result of which the older Western assumption of the manifest superiority of Christianity has lost plausibility in many minds. Early 20th-century thinkers such as Rudolf Otto, who saw religion throughout the world as a response to the Holy, and Ernst Troeltsch, who showed that socioculturally Christianity is one of a number of comparable traditions, opened up new ways of regarding the other major religions.

Given that the central concern of both Christianity and the other great world faiths is salvation salvation, Christians today adopt one of three main points of view. One is EXCLUSIVISM, which holds that there is salvation only for Christians. This theology underlay much of the history outlined above, expressed both in the Roman Catholic dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus ("outside the church no salvation") and in the assumption of the 18th- and 19th-century Protestant missionary movements that outside the proclaimed Gospel there is no salvation. The exclusivist outlook was eroded within advanced Roman Catholic thinking in the decades leading up to the second Vatican Council (1962-65) and was finally abandoned in the council's pronouncements. Within Protestant Christianity there is no comparable central authority, but most Protestant theologians, except within the extreme Fundamentalist constituencies, have also moved away from the exclusivist position.

The move, among both Roman Catholics and Protestants, has been toward INCLUSIVISM, the view that, although salvation is by definition Christian salvation, brought about by the atoning work of Christ, it is nevertheless in principle available to all human beings, whether Christian or not. The Roman Catholic theologian Karl Rahner expressed the inclusivist view by saying that good and devout people of other faiths may, even without knowing it, be regarded as "anonymous Christians." Others have expressed in different ways the thought that non-Christians also are included within the universal scope of Christ's salvific work and their religions fulfilled in Christianity.

The third position, to which a number of individual theologians have moved in recent years, is PLURALISM. According to this view, the great world faiths, including Christianity, are valid spheres of a salvation that takes characteristically different forms within each--though consisting in each case in the transformation of human existence from self-centredness to a new orientation toward the Divine Reality. The other religions are thus not secondary contexts of Christian redemption but independently authentic paths of salvation. The pluralist position is controversial in Christian theology because it affects the ways in which the doctrines of the person of Christ, atonement, and the Trinity are formulated.

Christians engage in dialogue with the other major religions through the World Council of Churches' subunit on Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies and the Vatican's Secretariat for Non-Christians, as well as a variety of extra-ecclesiastical organizations, such as the World Congress of Faiths. A multitude of inter-religious encounters takes place throughout the world, many initiated by Christian and others by non-Christian individuals and groups.

From Wikipedia:


Fundamentalism: "Fundamentalism originally referred to a movement in North American Protestantism that arose in the early part of the 20th century in reaction to modernism, stressing that the Bible is literally inerrant, not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record. ... Five fundamental doctrines:


1. the inerrancy of the Bible

2. the Virgin birth,

3. physical resurrection

4. atonement by the sacrificial death of Christ

5. the Second Coming."


Syncretism: "the attempt to reconcile disparate or contradictory beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought."


Pluralism: "...a loosely defined term concerning peaceful relations between different religions, and is also used in a number of related ways:

  • Religious Pluralism may describe the worldview that one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus recognizes that some level of truth and value exists in at least some other religions.

  • Religious pluralism often is used as a synonym for ecumenism. At a minimum, ecumenism is the promotion of unity, co-operation, or improved understanding between different religions, or denominations within the same religion

  • As a synonym for religious tolerance, which is a condition of harmonious co-existence between adherents of different religions or religious denominations.

Adherents of religious pluralism reject religious relativism.... Adherents of religious pluralism recognize that different religions make different truth claims. ...all religions can be true as far as their own truth-claims are concerned."

From Answers.com



UNIVERSALISM:  "Universalism Theology. The doctrine of universal salvation. Unitarian Universalism. The condition of being universal; universality. A universal scope or range, as of knowledge."


"Universalism refers to any concept or doctrine that applies to all persons and/or all things for all times and in all situations."

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