There has been a continual debate about Pluralism, Inclusiveness, and Exclusivity among a variety of religions. These concepts seem to be found in several cultures and religions therefore are not argued exclusively among Christian camps. I will be using some terms in this article to explore a larger hope and I ask that you work hard to see the concept I am sharing in terms of how I am re-defining common words used in many religions.
I will be using the word ‘religion’ with the definition of ’tangible ways in which we carry out traditions in our acts of worship’. It is commonly taught that these tangible traditions are a path to a person’s salvation. However in this perspective I present today, ‘religion’ is not the “road to Salvation”. I think this definition I share of “religion” is the outward manifestation of what is already taking place in the heart…Salvation is what is happening within.
I believe that whoever we consider the Creator/Deity/Divine etc can and does work that salvation within us in a spiritual way that best fits who we are and how we come upon the revelation of such salvation. Expounding upon that thought, I wish to emphasize that our Creator meets us “where we are” and “as we are”. If our Creator decides to use metaphors from childhood fables, Hollywood sci-fi, Science, or religious texts is up to that Creator. It doesn’t mean only one of these avenues is “the only road to salvation” for all people.
I believe that being a “Christian” is a mix of cultural and theological components gleaning from the bible as their text. Other religions follow a similar concept..cultural and theological components gleaning from their spiritual texts. I will use the terms ‘Theos’ and ‘Creator’ interchangeably as a non gender spiritual being outside of and yet within our realm of existence. For the sake of keeping Theos as a relatable being to us, I use ‘him’ as a non gender term as opposed to ‘it’ which seems to break the relational aspect off from us.
What we call Theos , just may be using all kinds of avenues to get his message across… reconciliation to our Creator. It is debatable on whether or not human-kind was ever broke off from Theos or if we were simply deceived into thinking we were. I will not get into that argument here. The angle I introduce today is that of a concept of universal reconciliation. This angle is what I believe to be the foundation of all that is going on between human-kind and Theos. So in this perspective, there is no such thing as “all religions lead to god” but rather.. Theos uses any means necessary to speak the evangel( good news of reconciliation) to his creation. The people Theos speaks to in all different cultures and paths will understandably follow a unique path based on their cultural and theological communities and with whatever spiritual texts have been handed down through their generations.
If we look at this relationship between Theos and human-kind, we can see how each culture of people have found a variety of ways to come to know this Theos, how to express their path of understanding, and what that looks like for each individual(and as groups) is manifested in diverse ways.
It may very well be that Theos wants each culture of peoples to follow in a traditional pattern. Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Pagans, etc have cultures that embody such traditional patterns that are unique to their people. It is entirely possible that Theos does not want Christians to weave their beliefs and traditions in with Muslims, nor Pagans with Jews. It is evident that each religions seem to hold to a varying degree of belief about that. Maybe instead of arguing over this, we might come to respect that this might be the way in which Theos has planned out humanity to be among one another. It could be that Theos wants us to learn about each path and find ways in which to live in harmony among one another while respecting our differences and celebrating our similarities. Whatever the case may be, each individual needs to decide for themselves what traditional teaching they believe Theos wants them to participate in.
This is not pluralism, inclusiveness, nor exclusiveness, but I do believe it is the basic foundation where all three perspectives grow from. I believe that many from human-kind has done their best to navigate their lives and carry on the heritage of their tribes the best they knew how. Sadly, this has manifested many religious and political wars over the ages in their quest for freedom to continue their spiritual paths.
There is another perspective on the word ‘salvation’ that is not the same as the cosmic reconciliation of human-kind to Theos, but can be viewed as an extension of it. This ‘salvation’ I am referring to is obtained through understanding truth that leads to clarity and healthy decision making. These healthy decisions grow the metaphorical fruit that is pleasant to the growth of our spiritual lives as well as nourishing to our human relationships. This kind of fruit grows from the tree of life which is deeply rooted within us all and is drinking from the living water that is an ongoing wellspring coming from within that cosmic spiritual revelation of our reconciliation and the larger hope for the reconciliation of all to Theos.
Some may never have this reconciliation journey for themselves in this life, but this larger hope is that Theos has a way of bringing all things and people into his balance, in whatever way is best for all.
This perspective is not a religion, just a neutral perspective on what just may be the greatest hope for all mankind. It is inclusive to all, yet exclusively experienced by those who have been awakened. In this belief, Theos sends his messengers to us in a variety of ways and people need to be free to listen and follow Theos as he guides them. He may or may not guide them to follow one path for a time then divert them to another path. That is between them and Theos.
The tradition I have been following is by respecting one another’s paths while extending the invitation to learn the evangel from our/your perspective, but remain humble and not insistent on our/your way being a better or a ‘more right’ way. In all of this the philosophy of the ‘golden rule’ holds true in all paths and has proven to be a healthy way in which to find peace among each other.
I don’t know if a term already exists for this perspective, and I hesitate on coining a term for it out of the concern for it becoming misrepresented or hijacked by another insistent religion that wants to own it or change it. I dislike the ideas of labels that box people up. All I can say is that I call it an Ageless Hope that is inclusive to all, yet exclusive to those experiencing it. It may very well be witnessed at the roots of various beliefs since the beginning of time. All are invited to this evangel and may observe it and participate in it.
In upcoming articles I will share how I have come to live my life within this perspective. In my opinion, there is no reason to leave the traditions you already observe in order to participate in the celebration of life among your fellow humans who do embrace this perspective. They might be within your existing churches, PTA meetings, clubs, frats or various other circles of friends and loved ones. Many fear confessing to this Ageless Hope out of fear of disassociation from their groups. Those of us who do embrace this perspective do not require that you convert or give up anything in your life to celebrate with us. Everyone is free to celebrate and even create their own ‘tangible ways in which you carry out traditions in your acts of worship’. Bless you.