This sample of an academic paper on Religious Pluralism Essay reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
A major feature of religious geography is no single religion dominates the world. Authorities from many faiths have historically said theirs is the best way and only way but in reality new religions and new versions of older religions continue to spring up and then divide, subdivide, and provoke reform movements. Christianity claims the most members of any global religion, but Christianity is not a monolithic faith. There are thousands of forms of Christianity being professed.
The migration, missionary activities and refugee movements, religions have shifted out of away from their country of origin. It is no longer easy to show a world map and say this country is assigned to a particular religion. In Russia there are not only Russian Orthodox Christians but also they have Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, shamanists and members of new religions. In the United States there are now a sizeable amount of Russian Orthodox congregations.
Buddhism arose in India but is now most pervasive in East Asia and popular in France, England, and the United States. Islam arose in what is now Saudi Arabia, but there are more Muslims in Indonesia than in any other country. There are also large Muslims populations in Central Asia and growing Muslim population in the United States.
As religions spread geographically, one common response has been the attempt to deny the validity of other religions. In many countries there is tension between the religion that has been most closely linked with national history and identity and other religions that are practiced or have been introduced into the country. Protestant congregations are rushing to offer Bibles to the religious to citizens of formerly atheistic communist countries, with the idea of introducing Christianity to the people. Orthodox Christianity established in Russia more than thousand years ago managed to continue to exist despite communist rule, sometimes by collaboration with the oppressive authorities and sometimes by devotion in the midst of hardship, even though the Church structures were limited and controlled by the State.
In some previously communist countries, old animosities between people of different ethnic backgrounds resurfaced with great violence once totalitarian regimes toppled. These intense ethnic and political struggles often put people of different faiths against each other, as in former Yugoslavia. Where the once was a seemingly peaceful society, horrifying atrocities arose among largely Orthodox Christian Serbs, Roman Catholic Croats and the Muslims living mainly in Bosnia and Hercegovina .
The twentieth-century rush for materialism and secular values also fanned an increase in “fundamentalism.” Reactionaries do not want their values and life patterns to be spoiled by contemporary secular culture, which they thought to be crude and sacrilegious. They may try to withdraw socially from secular society even while surrounded by it. Or they may actively try to change the culture, using political power to shape social laws or lobbying for banning of textbooks that they feel do not include their religious point of view.
Fundamentalism may be based on religious motive but it has been known to be politicized and turned into something of violent means. The devastating attacks by terrorists on United States targets in 2001 brought instant polarization along religious and ethnic lines. Hundreds of hate crimes were committed in the United States against Muslims and foreign immigrants who were mistaken for Muslims and were suddenly seen as outsiders as some Americans responded with fear and rage.
Boundaries between religions are hardening in many areas, there has been a rapid acceleration of interfaith dialogue. It’s the willingness of people of all religions to meet, explore their differences, and appreciate and find enrichment in each other’s ways to the divine. This has historically has been a difficult approach but many religions have made exclusive claims to being the best or only way.
Religions are quite different in their external practices and culturally influenced behaviors. There are doctrine differences on basic issues, such as the cause of and remedy of evil and suffering in the world, or the question of whether the divine is singular, plural or nontheistic. Some religions claim to be superior which are difficult to reconcile with other religions’ claims. For instance the Qur’an acknowledges the validity of earlier prophets as messengers from God, refers to Prophet Muhammad as the “Seal of the Prophets” (Sura 33:40).
This description has been interpreted to mean that prophecy was completed with the Prophet Muhammad. If he is believed to be the last prophet, no spiritual figures after he passed away in c. 632-including the Sikh Gurus and Baha’u’llah of the Baha’is- could be considered prophets, though they might be viewed as teachers. Christians read in John 14:6 that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life; no on comes to the Father but by me.” Some Christian scholars believe that this is inappropriate to take this line out of its context and to interpret this to mean that they ways of Hindus and Buddhists are invalid. Relationships with other faiths were not the question being answered.
Many people of broad vision have noted that this same principle exists in all other traditions. Every religion teaches importance of setting one’s own selfish interest aside, loving others, harkening to the divine, and exercising control over the mind.
Responses to Other Faiths
There are several ways in which people of other faiths may relate to each other. Diana Eck, a Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard Divinity School and the Chair of the World Council of Churches committee on interfaith dialogue, observes that there are three responses to contact between religions. One is Exclusivism: “Ours is the only true way”. Eck and others have noted that this point of view has some value, for deep personal commitment to one’s faith is a foundation of religious life and also the first essential step in interfaith dialogue.
Eck sees the second response to interfaith contact as inclusivism. This may take the form of trying to create a single world religion, such as Baha’i. It may appear as the belief that our religion is spacious enough to encompass all the others, that it is supercedes before all previous religions, as Islam said it was the culmination of all monotheistic traditions. The inclusivists do not see other ways as a threat and they fell all diversity is included in a single world view-their own.
The third way is Eck discerns pluralism: to hold one’s own faith and at the same time ask people of other faiths about their path, about how they want to be understood. The way Eck explains this is that the only point from which true dialogue can take place. It is a place which cooperation, true relationship can happen. Uniformity and agreement are not the goal but the goal is to collaborate, to combine our differing strengths for the common good. To make pluralistic dialogue more effective people must have openness to the possibility of discovering sacred truth in other religions.
People of all faiths have started coming together to put their hearts together. Ecumenical conferences involved pairs of related religions that were trying to agree to disagree, such as Judaism and Christianity. Now larger numbers of interfaith organizations and interfaith meetings draw people from all religions in a spirit of mutual appreciation.
In 1986 The Pope John Paul II invited one hundred and sixty representatives of all religions to Assisi in honor of the humble St. Francis, to pray together for world peace. In 1990 a great assembly of spiritual leaders of all faiths with scientists and parliamentarians took place in what until a few years ago would have been the most unlikely place in the world for such a gathering-Moscow, capital of the previous atheist Soviet Union. The final speaker at that event was Mikhail Gorbachev, who called for a merging of scientific and spiritual values in the effort to save the planet.
There has been meetings of special interfaith throughout 1993 that were held around the world to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago.