Religious pluralism is one of the west’s modernity and liberalism’s products which reflects the free-thinking conscience of the new world, who try to improve and if possible, omit the religious rigidity of the past. The rigidity which provides the basis for persecution of many Christians and non-Christians.

For the first time Friedrich Schleiermacher (1834), and after him, Rudolf Otto (1937) proposed Liberal Protestantism, which was the basis of religious pluralism. In fact, this theory was consonant with the theory of political liberalism theorists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, such as Adam Smith (1790) and others.

The features of liberal Protestantism are consisted of:

  1. Acceptance of various and even unconventional interpretations of sacred texts, especially given the achievements of new empirical knowledge.
  2. Recommending doubts about the basis and reasons of truth.
  3. Emphasizing on the religious support of modern ethical and social principles.
  4. Referring the essence of religion to personal experience of individuals, not dogmatic principles and religious rites.[1]

In fact, these are the basis that eventually emerged in John Hick's theory of pluralism. For the importance of this issue, I want to discuss a little more about it.

Different types of Pluralism

Religious pluralism is a movement in theology based on the values of political liberalism, as it has clearly the title of liberal Protestantism at the outset of the work. This pluralism has been considered with various basis, such as:

  1. Moral pluralism. That is the followers of any religion should respect the followers of other religions and treat them with ethical and altruistic behavior.
  2. Salvation by pluralism. In this sense, followers of any religion, as followers of other religions, are also the survivors in the life after death. The basis of such pluralism is either the universal mercy of God, or the ignorance of followers of other religions.
  3. Epistemological pluralism. In that sense the theological and metaphysical propositions are not provable or revocable. In the other words, they are meaningless propositions. Therefore, all religions are epistemologically placed in equal conditions, and the reasons for the proof and justification of none of them are superior to the other.
  4. Pluralism on the basis of "truth". It means that the appearances of religions differ, but in reality they are the same; there are differences in figures and titles, not in meaning and truth. This view also coincides with the mystical view of Indians and Neoplatonism. This is what John Hick interprets as the transformation of "self-centering" to "The pivotal reality".[2]

In my opinion, however, while well treating with all human beings, regardless of their opinions and thoughts, the acceptance of pluralism will only result in preventing people from searching the truth. Pluralism, if in the interests of politicians, businessmen and humanitarians, is not in the interest of knowledge of human beings.

Pluralism not only discourages people from research, but also leads theological and metaphysical beliefs to cruelty and dogmatism and the loss of truth and true religion. In that sense the pluralism and epistemic reconciliation of the followers of different religions provide the ground for the survival of the falsehood beside the truth, and deprives human beings from their first and most natural right, which is the right to recognize the truth and choose it on the basis of recognition and discovery, and this is also to the detriment of the majority of human beings and in interests of the vicious religion and its supporters.


Prof. Yahya yasrebi


Translator: Fatemeh Baghipour



[1] - Legenhausen, religious pluralism. And also see:

ـ Friedrich Schleiermacher, on Religion. 1899.

 ـ Rudolf Otto, Das Heilige (1917).

[2] - John Hick, "Problem of Religious Pluralism, New york, 1985.