Plurality and Christian Ethics

Plurality and Christian Ethics

Plurality and Christian Ethics

Plurality and Christian Ethics


Offers two basic arguments about pluralism: that contemporary threats to plurality come not from religion, but from secularism; and that the major religious groups in America have found good reasons to affirm plurality.


Plurality and Secularism

For secularists, despite their lack of religious commitment, religious plurality creates social and political difficulties. It also raises theoretical problems relating to tolerance and its practical outworking in society. This chapter explores the narrative underpinning this view of plurality. First, however, the meanings of "plurality" and "tolerance" need to be clarified.


Throughout this discussion, plurality will be used rather than pluralism. Plurality signifies the simple phenomenological reality of differing and conflicting traditions (or worldviews) arising in different communities with different histories. It is important to stress that these differing traditions are not simply differing propositional beliefs about the world. For example, a small vulnerable Asian Muslim community in the United Kingdom does not simply disagree with Christians over the status of Jesus. On the contrary, its belief fits into a total outlook and culture, with a distinctive language and history different from those of the majority Christian population (even though its Christian belief is now nominal). The problem of plurality involves the problem of different communities, with different identities, coexisting, and so raises questions of tolerance.

The term plurality simply describes a state of affairs that is seen increasingly in our cities; it implies no judgment on its desirability. Pluralism, on the other hand, has come to describe a theological position. For John Hick, pluralism points to a transformed outlook to different religions: no longer are . . .

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