The Progressive Rejection of Exclusivism

Currently listening to: Deja Entendu by Brand New

There is an important difference between believing that one is right and asserting that everyone else is wrong.  This has been the common claim of Christians for centuries.  Orthodox theology has long asserted the exclusivist notions that Christianity is the only valid religion, and that all other faiths are deficient and useless attempts to reach unity with the Wholly Other.  (Of course, other faith systems have made similar claims; but my experience has been with Christianity, and that is the religion to which I am closest).

All religions are not the same, nor are they all “different paths up the same mountain,” as the old metaphor says.  Still, though, religions do share many common characteristics.  Many refuse to accept this fact simply because they apply double standards to the validity of their faith as compared to others.  In this world of interreligious dialogue, where our neighbors are just as likely to be Muslim, Hindu, or atheist as Christian, it is time for a progressive recognition that exclusivist claims are unrealistic and ignorant of the social and historical realities of religion.

If the goal of religion is connection with the Divine and expansion of the human self, there is no need for judgmental and self-righteous attitudes.  I can celebrate the spiritual development and validity of my own path without rejecting similar experiences in those who hold different religious sentiments.  Progressive religion has no need for the polemics of yesterday; faith does not need to be a war.

One can affirm Jesus as the “way” without also making the claim that all other paths are valueless and idolatrous.


~ by eternaldode on 28 September 2009.

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