magazine features a story on a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey, which found that

70% of respondents agreed with the statement "Many religions can lead to eternal life." Even more remarkable was the fact that 57% of Evangelical Christians were willing to accept that theirs might not be the only path to salvation...
The problem with surveys like this is that there is often an assumption contained within the questions that can make them difficult to answer. What if you happen to be religious but don't believe in eternal life, or care about the issue that much, or are at best an agnostic on the subject? How would you answer the question then? For me, certainly, the question would be meaningless. Still, it does provide an interesting insight into an increasing respect and tolerance for other faiths among Christians in the US--even among evangelicals. And that can only be a good thing.

The article pointed out,
Analysts expressed some surprise at how far the tolerance needle has swung, but said the trend itself was forseeable because of American Christians' increasing proximity to other faiths since immigration quotas were loosened in the 1960s. Says Rice's Lindsay, the author of Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite: "If you have a colleague who is Buddhist or your kid plays with a little boy who is Hindu, it changes your appreciation of the religious 'other.' "
Indeed, I think that interacting regularly with people of other faiths cannot help but break down the walls of tribalism and religious intolerance.

The article also quoted from John Green, a pollster from Pew, who pointed out,
"Just because they don't want to believe that there's only one way to salvation doesn't meant that they don't take their religion very seriously."
This is a very important point. Religious pluralism doesn't necessarily translate into religious syncretism. One can be a religious pluralist and yet still committed to pursuing one's own path. This is a point that Marcus Borg, for example, has made.


OneSmallStep said...

The other interesting thing I noted about that article was that for the "one true way" evangelical scholars, the pluraism was as much a danger as a belief in the resurrection or the deity of Christ. Considering what this article is saying about many believing salvation lies in more than one religion, I'm wondering if the deity of Christ is also undergoing a massive shift? I always had the impression that my belief set was small in number.

Mystical Seeker said...

One small step, interesting question. I think that some religious pluralists believe in the divinity of Christ but believe that Christ will save people of other faiths; this is the "anonymous Christian" version of pluralism, where non-Christians are seen as saved by Christianity even though they don't know it. That is probably what I would call a weak form of pluralism, since it gives primacy to Christianity but accepts that Jesus will save non-believers. A stronger form of pluralism would see all religions as different conduits to an infinite and ineffable transcendent reality, with no tradition having inherent superiority over the others. The latter is more along the lines of John Hick's version of pluralism. In that case, I think one is more likely to disbelieve in Jesus having a unique role as a fully divine human Son of God.