Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Intolerable Tolerance

A repost of an excerpt from Chuck's blog.

"It is an interesting observation on today's religious climate that many people now get every bit as steamed up about insisting that 'all religions are just the same' as older dogmaticians did about insisting on particular formulations and interpretations. The dogma that all dogmas are wrong, the monolithic insistence that all monolithic systems are to be rejected, has taken hold of the popular imagination at a level far beyond rational or logical discourse. The 'remote god' view encourages it: if god is, or the gods are, far away and largely unknowable, all human religions must be vague approximations, different paths up the same mountain (and all paths get lost in the mist quite soon anyway). Equally, the pantheism that sees 'god' as the divine or sacred aspect within the present world leads ultimately in the same direction: if all religions are responding the to 'the sacred' in this sense, they are simply different languages expressing the same concept.
Few who embrace one or the other of these beliefs (or in some cases, it seems, both) stop to consider how remarkably arrogant and imperialistic these rejections of the supposedly arrogant and imperialistic religions actually are. They are saying with all the authority of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment behind them that they have discovered the hidden truth that all the great religions (especially Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) had missed: all religions are 'really' variations on the Enlightenment's idea of 'religion.' Well, of course: if you start with that idea, it would look like that, would it not?
But why should we believe the Enlightenment's arrogant claim any more than anyone else's? Some Christians, thinking to be generous-spirited toward those who embrace different faiths, have spoken of such people as 'anonymous Christians'; this is now generally accepted as hopelessly arrogant. Why should a Buddhist want to be an 'anonymous Christian?' But by that same token it is just as arrogant, if not more so, to claim that the adherents of all religions are really 'anonymous Enlightenment religious persons.'
We cannot, obviously, settle this huge debate here..."

-N.T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus, pages 100-101

No comments:

Post a Comment