Posted by Peter

In today's Boston Globe James Carroll blasts General Boykin (of the recent "Christian Jihad" witch-hunt fame), and talks about his notion of how all "exclusivist religions", including Christianity, are dangerous, and ultimately lead to religious war. He argues,

"exclusivist claims made for Jesus Christ by most Christians, from Vatican corridors to evangelical revival tents, implicitly insult the religion of others. When Catholics speak of ''salvation'' only through Jesus, or when Protestants limit ''justification'' to faith in Jesus, aspersions are cast on the entire non-Christian world."

He goes on to say,

"But that [exclusivist] theology is dangerous now. A respectful religious pluralism is no longer just a liberal hope but an urgent precondition of justice and peace.In the 21st century, exclusivist religion, no matter how ''mainstream'' and no matter how muted the anathemas that follow from its absolutes, is a sure way to religious war."

I can't even begin to go into how wrong this whole diatribe against organized religion is, but it certainly reminds me of a book I read recently, SOON by Jerry Jenkins of the Left Behind Series. Granted, the book is a little silly, but its basic premise rings a bell when i read Carroll's article. The premise is this: the surest way to eliminate war and its threat to humanity is to institute a worldwide ban on religion. Sounds familiar doesn't it?

Basically Carroll is going back to an old argument of the left, that all those that hold to any sort of an absolute truth are bigoted and ignorant. To be enlightened one must be tolerant of all religions, as long as they don't try to grab hold to any sort of notion of "absolute truth" or "exclusivity" as Carroll calls it.

As a Christian, I have a huge problem with this as I see that there are definite absolute truths, right and wrong, and a God in heaven on which it is all based. To bash the "exclusivity" of Christianity, Islam, or any other world religion that believes in a Supreme God, is to believe that there is no God. It is atheism. "Respectful religious pluralism" as Carroll puts it is nothing more than moral relativism in which there are no absolute truths, no right and wrong, and ultimately no meaning.

I do believe that as Americans we need to have tolerance of other religions, and not make restrictions on the free excercise of any faith. On the other hand, I don't believe that means we have to accept other religions as "possibly true" or "just another way to god". Religious pluralism is just another way of negating all religions, and bringing out society to a God-less, secular state - a leftist utopia.

Carroll's assertion that religions with a claim on absolute truth have caused wars is also a falsehood not backed up by hard cold facts. As Hugh Hewitt put it,

"Of course Carroll ignores that evangelical Christianity of the protestant variety and the Roman Catholic faith as well as most of Islam for the past 200 years have not been launching religious wars, even though all three traditions hold to truths that are exclusivist and absolute. No particular claim to absolute truth needs ever lead to violence."

For James Carroll to suggest that by discarding the very basis of our faith ( the deity of Jesus Christ, and salvation through his death on the cross), we can have peace and prosperity is incredibly naive and ultimately very misleading as it places the blame for many of the world's wrongs at the feet of religion. Ultimately it is those who don't have a faith in Jesus Christ who are left with no meaning, a twisted sense of right and wrong and in the end cause most of the world's ills.

Carroll's thesis: A respectful religious pluralism is no longer just a liberal hope but an urgent precondition of justice and peace.
My thesis: Faith in Jesus Christ is an urgent precondition for eternal life and peace.

See Hugh Hewitt's site and Exultate Justi for more on this article.


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