With a Graphic Arts/Journalism degree from Bethel University and a desire to teach, I enrolled in classes at IUPUI (Indiana University/Purdue University--Indianapolis). One of the classes that the State of Indiana required before they would Certify me (a good thing in this case) was called EDUCATION IN PLURALISTIC SOCIETY. If I would have better understood then what I am beginning to understand now, I would have been a better student in that class.
Truth is, God used that class and a few of my fumbles as a student in it as part of the process of growth that has been (and I hope continues to be) my life.
THE UGLY FACE OF BADLY APPLIED EITHER/OR THEOLOGY
I'm a big picture thinker -- I see the whole and how it works more easily than I see the individual pieces that make up the whole. My natural bent is to therefore generalize. This is a strength and a weakness (like most natural bents). When I was young and (how did Joel Hunter put it a few weeks ago) brass -- when those who didn't agree with me were either idiots or villains, that meant that people were either good or evil and I got to pick the criteria. Oh, I based it on biblical truth, so I thought I had Jesus on my side...but, I'm learning that there are faults in that worldview.
This played out in practical terms as I mentally lumped people into neatly organized boxes either to be honored and valued or to be avoided and taken out for trash pick-up. (Oh, I'm sure I did not think in quite those terms at the time -- but if you looked at the root of my attitudes, it was about that ugly. Maybe worse.)
I do believe that God's Word is clear on the fact that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one can enter a relationship with God except through Jesus. Period. God may use a whole lot of creative ways to draw people to himself, but in the end, those ways all lead to the cross of Christ who gave His life as a ransom for sinners -- and we are all sinners. I am not a spiritual pluralist -- but I don't believe that any single denomination has a corner on the market when it comes to clarity of vision.
I am rather fond, however of political pluralism and, in a whole other way, religious pluralism. That is, I love what emerges when a group of people with diverse perspectives and opinions and convictions comes together to discuss and even debate ideas.
So, some of my more dogmatic friends would suggest that I've lost my sense of Truth and that all of this wallowing in the cloudiness of supposed "grey" has me forgetting that life is black and white. At the same time, some of my less modern and anything-but-linear friends would say that I'm arrogant to think that there is any sort of absolute truth.
In this spectrum I find some of my greatest joy and a bit of my greatest frustration.
Now, I've been rambling on this topic for many more words than I intended and I'm not sure yet that I've landed anywhere. I'd best post this and take cover and then consider writing more later. Or not.