Contemporary Perspectives in Philosophy of Religion
Edited By Sebastian Kolodziejczyk and Janusz Salamon
Religious inclusivism is often presented by its advocates as if it were much more advantageous than religious exclusivism. Though its openness to other religions does not go as far as religious pluralism would require – the theory developed by Hick, Knitter and others – inclusivism is said to outstrip religious exclusivism to a considerable degree. Ever since inclusivism was vindicated for the first time, there have been doubts whether this characterization is right. My aim is to articulate these doubts more explicitly by clarifying the putative distinction between religious exclusivism and inclusivism. I argue that the claim that there are significant epistemic differences rests on an overly restrictive notion of exclusivism and a misleading use of metaphors like ‘an element of truth’. I conclude that the similarities make it advisable for inclusivists to focus their attention on the problems shared with exclusivism instead of dissociating themselves from exclusivism.
In the 1980s the two students of John Hick, Race and D’Costa,1 introduced the nowadays widely used terminology of exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism in the literature to differentiate attitudes towards problems of religious diversity that had been discussed for a long time before in philosophy and theology (and still are today). Historically and very roughly exclusivists can be described as those religious believers favouring their own religion, pluralists as claiming that all religions are in a sense equally valid, and inclusivists as taking a position in between. But this characterization is...
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