Pluralism and society C/B grade summary notes


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The scriptural reasoning movement

  • Modern form of inter-faith dialogue
  • Different religions get together and reach each other’s holy books.
  • They discuss meanings and interpretations of passages.
  • The goal is just to promote understanding and friendship.
  • Trying to convert others or criticise other religions is not allowed.
  • Initially it was just abrahamic religions (Chrisitianity, Judaism & Islam) but recently has branched out to include other religions too.
  • It was founded by David Ford (anglican) and Peter Ochs (Jewish) among others.


  • Gavin D’Costa (catholic theologian) criticises scriptural reasoning as relativistic – the view that all religions are true.. 
  • Criticising other religions and trying to convert them is part of religion.
  • If scriptural reasoning doesn’t allow that – then it’s not really fully allowing religious people to express themselves – so it’s not genuine dialogue.
  • For example, A Muslim will think that the New Testament is somewhat valid but mixed with error, for example. They would try and convert Christians as a result.
  • If they are not allowed to do that, by the rules of scriptural reasoning meetings, then people can’t express their whole true genuine faith in those meetings.
  • In that case, scriptural reasoning is actually just like the liberal approach to inter-faith dialogue.
  • It prevents the expression of faith to enable dialogue – but ends up not being genuine inter-faith dialogue and instead promoting relativism.

Paul Eddy & Ratzinger on secular liberal pressure against exclusivism

  • Ratzinger said that liberal secular culture has started to promote relativism and create an intolerance of exclusivism.
  • Proclaiming Jesus as the full truth, and that other religions are wrong, is called intolerant.
  • Paul Eddy made arguments to the general synod of the Church of England, which prompted the creation of the ‘Sharing the Gospel of Salvation’ document.
  • Eddie complained that Christians were made to feel guilty for believing that Jesus is the way, truth and life. Secular liberals try and make exclusivist Christians feel guilty by calling them intolerant.
  • Conversion and proper interfaith dialogue is not possible because of this pressure.
  • Eddy insisted that Christians should not be made to feel guilty for being exclusivist – and they should try and convert others. 
  • Eddy and Ratzinger would not approve of the scriptural reasoning approach for this reason.


  • Secular liberals respond that social pressure on traditional exclusivism is justified because exclusivism causes social tensions & problems.
  • Religious intolerance and even violence has occured throughout history and still occurs around the world.
  • Religious people should therefore be made to feel guilty about being exclusivist, since that attitude causes social problems.

Redemptoris Missio AND the COE’s ‘sharing the gospel of salvation’ arguing for dialogue AND the conservative approach to conversion.

JP2’s “Redemptoris Missio” document – argument for the validity of conversion

  • JP2 says that conversion has come to be regarded as negative in much of mainstream secular liberal culture.
  • He argues that actually it is positive – it is part of a free society that people should be free to try and convert others.
  • However, he emphasises that conversion must be done in a respectful way.
  • Missionaries must be respectful of people’s freedom of conscience.
  • JP2 is an inclusivist, claiming there is Christian truth in other religions (though mixed with error).
  • So, Christians should engage in tolerant open-minded dialogue with those of other faiths which can eliminate prejudice and intolerance, thus enabling social cohesion.
  • JP2 still has a conservative approach to interfaith dialogue however, since he says that the ultimate aim of dialogue is conversion.
  • JP2 would disagree with the scriptural reasoning approach to dialogue because it does not allow conversion.

The Church of England’s “Sharing the gospel of salvation” document.

  • Church of England document.
  • It is about the question of how Christians should relate to and get on with those of different faiths in today’s multi-faith society.
  • The document affirms that Jesus has a unique role to play in salvation.
  • The ‘highest calling’ of the Church is to proclaim Jesus.
  • Jesus is indeed the way, the truth and the life – so Christians should share their religion with others in the hope of converting them.
  • The document resulted from Paul Eddy’s address to the Synod where he called for the Church to affirm the importance of conversion.
  • The document notes how Eddy received widespread support from all different factions within the Church (of England).
  • The document accept this, though it warns that conversion should be done in a respectful way.
  • We shouldn’t view non-Christians as ‘targets’ of an advertising campaign, for example.
  • They should just be earnestly and genuinely told the good news.
  • This would disagree with the scriptural reasoning approach to dialogue because it does not allow conversion.


  • Secular liberal progressives would criticise the idea of conversion as insensitive and encouraging of social tensions.
  • They would point out that Christianity throughout history has spread itself by the sword – through violence.
  • Christianity is still currently benefiting from that history of forced conversion because it now has many colonised countries who are predominantly Christian – e.g. in Africa and south america.
  • The main reason these countries are currently mostly Christian is because they were forced to become Christian in the past.
  • That’s how Christianity currently still benefits from its history of forced conversion, even though it no longer engages in that.
  • So, if Christians really want to make up for an apologize for that history and encourage proper dialogue with others as true equals, they should stop trying to convert people completely.