Principled Pluralism

When I was back at Briercrest College, I took a class called Apologetics. It basically was about how one was to defend their faith when presented with arguments from a different point of view. If Christianity is based on truth, which I believe it is, then I should be able to back it up.

I had to write a paper while I was there, I think it was even in that class, on Principled Pluralism and whether I thought it was right or wrong.

Principled Pluralism is coming from the point of view that in a pluralistic society, where there are many options on what people can believe, it is important to stand up for the right to believe what you want.

Some would use the word tolerance, although that word has taken on a different meaning in the last decade. It used to be that tolerance was allowing someone to have a belief or action and not persecuting them for it. Intolerance was persecuting one for their belief or action.

These days, intolerance also includes those who do not change their beliefs to fit into the current beliefs of society. If I was to believe something that goes against the way society is changing, my view would not be tolerated the same way as others. People may allow me the right to believe it, but I would not be given the right to speak my belief.

If you don’t agree with this, simply wear a “Homosexuality is Wrong” shirt to an NDP convention and let me know how many people tolerated you.

Do I believe in Principled Pluralism?

In a democratic country, the laws and public morality that society is required to live by is set by those who started the country and then changed by “the people” through their representatives that they voted in.

I’m in the country and I have to live by its laws. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms is part of the Constitution in this country.

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

1. freedom of conscience and religion;
2. freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
3. freedom of peaceful assembly; and
4. freedom of association.

As you can see, principled pluralism is based on point 2, “Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.” As long as this remains in the constitution and the laws reflect it, not only do I have to live by it, but I can take advantage of it.

You see, I am a Christian and part of what I believe is the requirement and desire for Christians to share what they believe with others. Principled pluralism allows me to do that without fear of persecution. Of course, as a Christian I know that eventually, persecution will occur. For now, I’ll stick by principled pluralism, even with its drawbacks, which are a subject of another essay.

5 thoughts on “Principled Pluralism

  1. Matteo Masiello

    Yes great idea. Why do some Christians think they can’t express their view? Christians in America are not being persecuted. It’s the self-righteousness of people like Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig and their kind who are the obstacles to this principled pluralism? They all contend that they are right and everyone is wrong.

    1. Sheldon Kotyk Post author

      Hi Matteo, Thanks for posting a comment on this ancient article. I agree that in North America, for the most part, Christians are not persecuted. However, in the six years since I wrote this article, there have been attempts to silence Christians who do try to share their faith, especially on University campuses.

      Principled Pluralism is about allowing everyone to express their opinion. However, it doesn’t mean that it means every voice is correct, just that they are allowed to express their viewpoint. Ravi and Craig are simply debating whether the opposing viewpoints are truth or not, just as muslims and atheists are able to share their viewpoints and say Christians are wrong.

      It is up to the listener to decide who’s argument is correct.

  2. Matteo Masiello

    “Ravi and Craig are simply debating whether the opposing viewpoints are truth or not, just as muslims and atheists are able to share their viewpoints and say Christians are wrong.”
    I disagree that Dr. Zacharias debates. He speaks and makes general statements and has never (at least I have never seen it) engages in a conversation with anyone who opposes him. I also found his Jesus Among the Gods and his input with respect to Walter Martin’s Kingdom of the Cults laughable. He is completely ignorant of other religious traditions and other Christian denominations. What bothers me is that he is an intelligent person, but doesn’t engage in intelligent conversation.
    With respect to incidents in which Christians are being “silenced”…that should not be mentioned in the same context as persecution. Again, silenced? That implies the secret police and conspiracy. The only Christians I can really admire are those who engage in an informed and intelligent debate with other traditions and the culture at large – mostly those who can be considered progressive Christians. Now I say all this with the acknowledgement that I listen to Zacharias and Craig all the time in their podcasts and read whatever I can find from them. However, they come off as so myopic in their opinions that they are willing or interested in engaging with those who are different from them unless there is the presumption that if you are not Christian you are wrong and you just need to see the truth so to speak. As a Christian myself, I don’t find their reasoning for faith convincing in the least. They lack sincerity, humility, joy gentleness, love, forebearance and other qualities which are needed to spread the gospel effectively and relate the Christian experience in all it’s truth and wonder. They lack wonder and their talk seems rather pedantic and stuffy. I wish they would talk more about personal testimony than philosophical drivel with is irrelevant to the Christian witnessing of the Living God through Christ.

      1. Matteo Masiello

        Okay. I was raised Roman Catholic in a typically mediocre middle class suburb of a major city. Ever since I could remember, whether it was at mass, or in every day life, I always felt there was something larger than myself. During religious instruction, I asked simple questions about what I was learning – the Noah’s ark story, Jesus, etc. and never got a reply which seemed to satisfy me. I learned all the sacraments, went through communion and confession (choosing St. Francis of Assisi as my confirmation name because of my love of nature, animals, and humanity in general. What always left me wondering though was Jesus on the Cross. No one seemed to be talking about “Him” even though that is why we were all there. So, by the time I was confirmed, I went to Mass less and less because I wanted to find Him. At the time, I was never educated about why we did what we did during Mass. Had someone explained it to as I have heard – of all people – the Reformed theologian R.C. Sproul – explain why Catholics believe what they do, I might have remained a devout Catholic. During college I encountered Mormons, Jews for Jesus, charismatics, mainline Protestants (I liked the Anglicans the best as they were often referred to as Catholic-lite). I read Aquinas, Augustine, the Church Fathers, Billy Graham, William W. Armstrong, Walter Martin, and a bunch of other writers from different denominations and nondenominations. MORE than that, though, I encountered Jesus in the face of those lesser than myself. In the poor and the destitute that I ran onto the streets of NYC while hanging out in the Village, and even amidst my own family – all of whom didn’t seem to wear their religion on their sleeves, but came from the more traditional devout Roman Catholic older generation types. I encountered Jesus in the singing of kirtans with Hindua and engaging in Buddhist meditation. These practices informed me more about how to prayer to my Abba Father than any other Christian I had encountered. Still, for me, it was not Krishna or Buddha, neither of whom are any match for Jesus (and don’t claim to be. Well, Krishna is too out there for me). I saw Jesus in the joyful eyes of all whom I encountered. I also saw Him in the suffering of the marginalized of society – the poor, the mentally handicapped, those who are told that they do not have a place at the table. Well, I don’t know whose table that it, but I don’t want a seat either. My delving into church history and theology and encountering the sometimes divisive opinions of different types of Christians (all claiming to have a monopoly on Jesus) made me believe less in God and convinced me more that it was all a presupposition created by people to retain power. That people used Jesus for their own selfish, unChristians means. At the same, though, I was kept in check because I felt the presence of God in them to. So, it was ultimately me who needed the attitude adjustment, not them. Okay, so 20 years later from all that…I still found myself floundering in terms of a place to go to. I saw truth everywhere but was continually depressed because everyone in every type of church, sooner or later, criticized someone else. I began to see more arguing and division and subsequently became more depressed. I prayed to Jesus all the time for deliverance and gradually found it as I was slowly draw back into the Roman Catholic church. Not because its the true church, not because I care what the Pope or Bishops say, but because it offered disciplines which evangelicals are starting to adopt for themselves all of which they had had for the last 2000 years. Now I feel that Christ is more alive in me than ever before. What He has freed me from wasn’t an addiction or grief, but from a fear of worthlessness and self-depravation. God gave me a wife and a child and a job, all of which give me insights into Him as a husband and a father. He is more real to me as I kneel before Him in my secret place and in community than I can honestly describe. I still listen to different types of Christian, to my own chagrin at times, because ALL I WANT is a hope that people will come together in Christ and stop fighting and bickering with one another. To realize that WE ARE ALL beloved children of the Living God by right of being – as we have always existed in HIM.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *