Pluralism Sunday, May 2, 2010 – Celebrating Religious Diversity in Churches Around the World
by Jim Burklo
According to Dr. Diana Eck of Harvard’s Pluralism Project, there are at least three categories of relationships among religions. One is exclusivism, associated with different forms of fundamentalism. That’s the attitude that my religion is the only one that is real and right, and all others are wrong at best and evil at worst. Another is inclusivism. That’s the attitude of the Catholic Church and many evangelical churches: other religions may have much good in them, and express truths that are included in my religion, but, at best, all they do is point to the ultimate truth which is expressed fully in my religion alone. The third category is pluralism. That’s the attitude that other religions may be as good for others as my religion is good for me. I am devoted fully to my faith, but that doesn’t mean that my religion is the only right or best one for everybody else.
Jesus was humble, and Christians are called to follow his example. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself….” (Philippians 2: 5-8) How could the faith of an empty man get so full of itself that it would claim to be the one and only true religion? Jesus touched lepers, talked with women in public, listened intently to children, and showed respect to non-Jewish people. He humbled himself daily, for the sake of serving others. So I try to practice a humble Christianity. My religion is but one of many other imperfect attempts to describe and approach the Holy One. Christianity is the language of my soul, but other souls have other languages. And no one of them can claim truly to capture the essence of the divine. Humility itself is what unites us across the boundaries of our creeds. I pray that the followers of all religions can join together to serve God and humanity.