The Impossibility of a Pluralist View of Religions

Religious Studies 32 (2):223 - 232 (1996)
Abstract
In the debate about Christian attitudes to other religions, a threefold typology has emerged depicting differing Christian responses: pluralism, inclusivism and exclusivism. (This typology is not restricted to the Christian debate alone.) Traditionally, pluralism is opposed to exclusivism, the former claiming that it is arrogant and untenable to make exclusive truth claims, and that all religions are potentially equal paths to salvation and truth. In contrast, I argue that pluralism must always logically be a form of exclusivism and that nothing called pluralism really exists. The main purpose of my paper is to show that there is no high-ground in the pluralist position, for in principle its logic is no different from the exclusivist position. If this is established, then the debate can proceed with more substantial issues regarding the justification and clarification of truth claims.
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