Let's try and define the salient points of Religious Pluralism (godism), as expressed in the concepts of multifaith, interfaith and religious diversity. The Godist would say "there are many paths to god and no one religion holds all the answers". Such belief maintains that:
To engender respect, tolerance, understanding and dialogue between faiths at first seems very laudable, until we realise that, in order to achieve this it is necessary to take a non-rigid view of some core issues of one's faith. In aiming for these virtues we end up in a fog of fuzzy thinking. We find core issues have to be compromised in favour of liberal, non-specific views, and that claims of absolute truth become unacceptable. Little wonder the world often regards religion as waffle and meaningless (see for example The Empty Promise of Godism)! In removing core beliefs, Pluralism seems to have nothing of substance to say. Consider a few key issues:
When we talk about 'ways to God', which or what God do we mean? How do we define God?
When we consider the broad tenants of these faiths the answer must be emphatically "no" - the major faiths do not have the same understanding of God. In fact, there are major theological differences:
How then can there be any form of common 'worship'?
What do the various faiths believe about man?
Clearly, the major faiths differ not only in their understanding of God, but also in their view of man.
Although yoga has seen a global explosion in popularity, it defies a rigid definition. What we can say is that it is one of six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy traceable back to before Christ. The roots of the word are "yuj" and "Samadhi" which essentially mean "unity or oneness". This is union with something e.g. union between body, mind and spirit, union with the world around us, union with the universe, or union with god (the divine). There are many types of yoga (Hatha yoga is common in the west) but the general theme is a mix of physical exercises (specific postures are meant to awake physical "energy centres") and meditation - a spiritual search for unity with something and a search for the divine meaning of life. For example, the Bhakti yogi lives in a state of constant devotion and praise to god in order to merge with the divine (transcendence).
In 2007 a Church of England vicar banned Yoga classes from his church hall. The principal objection was that "Yoga is inseparable from the Hindu devotional practice". A Church of England spokesman backed his stand against practices which "do not square with Christian teachings". Put simply, Christians donít need yoga since Jesus and the Father promise to come and dwell with them (Jn 14.23). This is the ultimate unity and the exercise required is prayer, meditation on Godís word, and service to others. In contrast to yoga, there is no striving for unity with God since the Bible claims God has come to us in Jesus Christ! Clearly, the difference between these two approaches to God is not superficial! Are both equally valid ways to God, or is one right and the other wrong?
It is apparent that Pluralism results in confusion and the loss of truth. It is incoherent and contradictory. For example, the Pantheist or yogi would say to the Christian "your way to God through Jesus is true", and "my way to God through meditation is true". The Muslim would say to the Christian "we worship the same God", but the God of Islam (Allah) is master, not Father, and has revealed his will but not himself - concepts that conflict with Christianity.
Clearly, there is little agreement amongst the main religions on the fundamental issues of the nature of God and man. So how can they 'worship' together in any meaningful way in a multifaith or interfaith service? Who are they collectively worshipping?
More significantly, assuming one of the faiths is true, which one? Consider the philosophical Law of Non-Contradiction:
'It is impossible for multiple, contradictory propositions (as found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Pantheism, and Christianity) to all be true at the same time. Only ONE can be true or real'
Recall how we define truth (see What is Truth?) :
'For a statement to be true it must agree with knowledge (fact or reality), or be logically correct, or both, depending upon the context'
Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father (God) but through Me" (Jn 14.6). We can test the truth of this statement and the truth of the Bible in general by observing reality - what actually happened and what we observe today:
And regarding the authority of the Bible:
Clearly, the evidence for the truth of Christianity is substantial, if not overwhelming. So according to the Law of Non-Contradiction, other ways to God must be false. Pluralism itself must be false; all religions cannot be equally valid ways to God (although they demonstrate a basic awareness of a Creator and can have virtues similar to those of Christianity).
In contrast to Pluralism, Christianity is coherent and consistent. Godís plan of salvation follows a sequence of connected historical events: the Fall, the flood, Abraham, the Exodus, the formation of the special nation of Israel, the coming of Christ from that nation, and Christ's death and resurrection. Today this plan continues with the return of Israel to the land promised to them through Abraham, the witness of the Church, and the signs of the end of the age and the Second Coming of Christ (see End Times).
Each of us must decide if Christ's claim in Jn 14.6 is true. As C. S. Lewis said:
'A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic Ė on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg Ė or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else he is a madman or something else.'
Bible quotations are from the New American Standard Bible