Apologetics
Comments 8

The Modern Mood of Syncretism and Pluralism


There was a social worker in Nigeria who not long ago was visiting a young man in one of the back streets of Lagos. On the bedside of this student he found the following books: the Bible; the Book of Common Prayer, I’m glad to see; the Koran; three copies of Watchtower, the magazine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses; a biography of Karl Marx; a book of yoga exercises; and a popular paperback that he particularly needed entitled How to Stop Worrying. That is typical of the modern mood, a mood of syncretism and of pluralism.

The correct name for this aspect of postmodernism is pluralism. Pluralism does not just affirm the obvious fact that there is a plurality of cultures and ideologies and religions in the world. It goes beyond that. It says that all these claims should be respected equally, and we must therefore affirm the independent validity of every religion and every ideology. We must therefore give up the naïve and arrogant notion that we should try to convert anybody, let alone try to convert everybody. To those who have embraced pluralism nothing is more obnoxious than the Christian claim to uniqueness and the concept of world mission and world evangelization. Pluralism is an ideology that affirms the independent validity of every system of faith.

Excerpt from “Three Challenges to the Contemporary Church” by John Stott page 6

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There are three things I think about every moment of everyday... they consume me deeply. How to: 1. Refine my theological understanding 2. sharpen my ethical rigor 3. and heighten my devotional intensity. These are the things I write about. Welcome you to my blog... Join me on this incredible journey of exploration and discovery of all the things God has in store for His children. Join by following or subscribing. I appreciate your thoughts, comments and friendship. Walter

8 Comments

  1. Hello Walter – I disagree with Mr. Stott on pluralism. Respecting the right of a diversity of groups to exist does not mean we must “affirm the independent validity” of every group. My dictionary defines pluralism this way:
    “4 a: a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain an autonomous participation in and development of their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization.”

    In this age, in a fallen world, I think this is about the best we can hope for – free speech and association in a pluralistic society. This way ideas and groups, both good and bad, can freely compete in the public square. This is good for truth and the gospel. The alternative is for human governments to decide which ideas and groups are worthy of expression, and that is always disastrous. For example, many Muslim countries that have “anti-conversion” laws which make evangelism a punishable crime.

    I think pluralism is just another word for freedom. It does not mean we consider all viewpoints to be true.

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    • hey there Scott, sorry I missed this, been away for a couple of weeks.
      Pluralism is an ideology that affirms the “independent validity of every system of faith.” I think he said – system of faith. not group… I think as a Christian, what he is trying to say is that Jesus alone saves not a little bit of every religion… you know like they say, “all roads lead to heaven.”
      Anyway, thanks for your comment!

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  2. This is so true. Not too long ago I was reading a brief story about an seminar that the aging Billy Graham was conducting. He was challenged by one of the attendees on the very point and his response was disappointing – he said (and I will paraphrase since my memory is not quite what it should be anymore) that he was not God and that he believes that God can reach different groups in different ways. Who are we to judge. But Christ is the narrow gate and if we ascribe to Christian principles, while we are to be tolerant and let God do the work we can not do anything but seek Christ the author of our salvation. Blessing to you.

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