As part of my preparation for attending Cape Town 2010 I’ve been reading the advance papers. The latest is Truth Matters, Stand Up for Truth by Carver T.Yu. Below are a few highlights and then my comments.
Carver starts the paper by distinguishing between plurality and pluralism which was really helpful:
We have lived with plurality, but not pluralism. Pluralism has never been an option. Whether you are a Confucianist, or Taoist, Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu, you have an unwavering conviction that what you believe and live by is truth leading to authentic humanity or eternal salvation, and that all other paths would lead at best to an unfulfilled life and at worst to perversion and suffering.
He then points out the obvious, that pluralism constantly contradicts itself, talking of no truth, but trying to be an absolute truth; talking of respect but failing to listen to what others say. As has been said elsewhere, it’s important to remember that some of the ‘new atheists’ like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are not themselves pluralists. They are clear that they are making truth claims about the way the world is, and denying the truth claims of the religious, including Christians. They close down debate through their dogmatic beliefs, but they are different to the old school pluralistic views.
So much of today’s world is pluralistic – you’re entitled to your own belief unless it affects my belief system, at which point, it can’t be true. We need to deal with this ‘unintellectual’ pluralism which so many of the young people I work with are growing up using as their belief system by encouraging the Church as a whole to engage in relevant ways with this issue. If this isn’t dealt with then well-meaning evangelism is at best irrelevant and at worst damaging.