Religious diversity is one of the greatest challenges found by people of any faith in our pluralistic society. There are so many things to consider about this subject that there is no way to adequately cover it in one post.
First we must ask ‘what exactly is the problem of religious diversity?’ Is there really any logical problem to their being more than one religion in existence? I think the answer to this objection, if it is any objection at all, is simply to answer that, as in other areas of life, the fact that there is a broad array of beliefs about a subject does not mean that all are false or that the subject is unknowable.
Is the problem, then, instead specific to religions which claim exclusivism? Is it true that all religions have truth in some way, and that those which claim to have the truth are fundamentally flawed in some way? This, again, doesn’t seem to follow from anything. The fact that there is a plurality of opinions over the Divine (or whether there is a Divine-thing-being) alone does not justify the assertion that all religions are somehow about the same thing or that none are true. Nor does it imply that religions which claim to have the only way are incorrect. Again, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of structured argument here.
Often, this problem is focused around a specific religion; namely, Christianity. The problem is posed in the following way: If [traditional] Christianity is true, then Jesus is the only way of salvation. What then, of those “good people” who are not Christians? What of the faithful Buddhist, Hindu, or Zoroastrian? Would the loving God of Christianity condemn these to hell?
This is the problem posed in its most powerful form, in my opinion. Religious diversity doesn’t itself function as a defeater for theistic belief. Instead, it can pose a problem to exclusivist Christian belief. This is the problem upon which my next posts will focus. Broadly, I will address the other attempted defeaters above throughout my posts on religious diversity, but it is the exclusivist Christian position around which I will focus. This is the position to which the problem of religious diversity poses the greatest problem (note that any religion which features exclusivism will also face this problem).
Let me briefly offer the outline of what will be my expanded response:
1) Jesus is indeed the only way to salvation (John 14:6)
2) Jesus’ death and resurrection provided the possibility of salvation to all people, on the condition of faith (Romasn 3:21ff)
3) People are judged by the knowledge they have (Romans 2:12ff)-This is the key point. The distinction between ontological (availability of) and epistemological (knowledge of the means of) salvation must be drawn.
4) The salvation provided by Christ is ontologically necessary. The key issue is of its epistemic necessity.