The Evangelical Universalist Forum

John Hick's Religious Pluralism

Hello family! How are you all? I hope you are doing well.

The reason I created this topic is to know if anyone here advocates to Religious Pluralism as presented by John Hick. I also would appreciate your responses to the following questions:

What does a person need to believe in order to be considered a Christian?
Is the belief in a literal incarnation and divinity of Christ essential to be saved?
Can a person be a Religious Pluralist (like John Hick) and still be considered a Christian and be saved?

Don’t get me wrong, please. These questions are serious, I’m trying to find an answer and know other’s people opinion.

God bless,


I think you must first define it. And for the record, I do NOT believe in or advocate it. Here’s the definition from the Protestant site Got Questions at What is religious pluralism?

There is another position called Inclusivism (Positions for the Lost) - which I’m an advocate of. It has a board consensus among the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches.

That’s why I said “Religious Pluralism as presented by John Hick”.

But folks still need to look up Religious Pluralism and/or John Hick, if they are not familiar with it. I just saved them a step. :exclamation: :laughing:

  • Lewis Carroll

Hick claimed that the knowledge of the Real can only be known as it is perceived. But the truth is - Reality presents us with Truths but Truths that clash with each other. So, I believe in Truth and am therefore not a relativist like Hick. Christ is the Truth in all His multifaceted splendor.

  1. I am not familiar with John Hick’s beliefs, and do not believe that Religious Pluralism is logically tenable.
  2. The answer to this depends on who is doing the “considering”. Personally, I accept anyone who is a follower of Jesus as being a Christian. And even more so, I see all as being children of God, my family.
  3. I believe that ultimately every person will come to recognize the divinity of Christ, the literal incarnation of God, Emmanuel, God with us. This is part of the salvation process. And one should define “saved” to answer the question coherently. If saved = right relationship with God, then no, one must simply respond to the revelation of God that God gives them. Abraham was “saved” though he did not know of Jesus, though he ultimately did come to know him, I believe. If saved = going to heaven someday, well then I believe that all will ultimately bow to Christ and worship God, so yes, for one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord
  4. Again, this depends on who’s doing the considering. Also Jesus said that we’d know one another by our love for one another, not some adherence to a specific set of doctrines, but by our attitudes and actions.

I wonder if there are options wherein inclusivism and pluralism overlap. It may be possible to hold that while there is objective truth, each religion involves humans with an imperfect perception of ultimate reality or God, wherein each perceives some of the truth, without believing that all religions or views are “equally valid.” Thus, a Christian may believe Christ offers the best and fullest revelation of God, without holding that those who haven’t recognized their doctrines about him have necessarily missed what matters most to God.

Hey Bob!

Where you been man? :smiley: At the heart of Reality lies paradox and mystery. Truths are there but they clash and contradict each other. We see this in Christ who is fully God and fully man. God is both one and three, etc. So, it’s not relativism because relativism is just based on your perspective. But I think there are truths to be found in other religions besides the Bible like you say. Interesting points you bring up. Let me ponder this some more.

John Hicks, according to Wiki:

Regardless of his position on religious pluralism, Hicks was a professional academic PhD philosopher. He was heavily influenced by Immanuel Kant and Quakerism. I would take the Inclusive position (folks of other faiths can be included, by Christ working with them - see (Positions for the Lost)).

But how it is accomplished (in my opinion), is by the Quaker Inner Light:

Let’s call spiritual experience the Wisdom tradition:

Actually, I do believe in the mystic experiences of all traditions and that they are valid. It’s like the Catholic writer describes in the book The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions by Wayne Teasdale. It is Christ and his sacrifice that facilitates the path to see the light. And I can experience that light in a Christian setting (i.e. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Quaker mysticism). Or in the traditions of Native American spirituality, Zen, Vipassana, yoga or Sufism. It’s like learning languages. If I can converse and understand languages like Russian, Mandarin, French, Portuguese and Spanish, it helps to converse and write better in English. But Christ is still the springboard. As opposed to something like religious Puralism, where all religions lead to truth.

If I were to take a religious pluralism position, I think it’s better expressed in the Indian philosophy of Vedanta. And Catholic writer Father Bede Griffitths, spent considerable time relating Vendantic contemplation with Catholic Christianity. Let me end with a quote, from the short Vedanta article:

Paradox is hidden and obvious, everywhere and always - unless you have repressed one side of your very being - Richard Rohr (From "The Naked Now: Learning To See As The Mystics See)

I would say that the way to salvation is to love God with all of your heart and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. I suppose there are multiple ways that one could get to this point in life.

A turning point for me was reading Hicks’ book An Interpretation of Religion a number of years ago. Recommended, if you are at all interested in the subject.
His basic thesis is that there is one Ultimate Reality, perceived through individual and cultural prisms; depending on our prism (conceptual framework, world view, tribal legends) we will perceive the UR differently, but in Hicks’ thesis, validly. He makes a strong case which I find fairly convincing, though when it comes to truth statements I think he waffles way too much.

IMO he tries too hard to avoid the obvious superiority, if you will, of God’s fullest revelation of Himself through his Son, the Messiah.

He sounds very much like a Vedantist. :smiley: