Is John Hick's theory of religious pluralism philosophically tenable?
Mansour, Monzer J.
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John Hick advocates the view that the world’s major religions are equally true and equally salvific despite their conflicting truth claims and diverse practices and self-understandings. In support of his pluralistic view, Hick has developed a philosophical theory that seeks to justify and explain how the world’s major religions are all authentic human responses to a transcendent reality that is beyond human thought and whose nature is indescribable by human language. Hick calls this transcendent reality the Real. Hick holds that the various concepts of God or ultimate reality embraced by each of the world’s major religions are authentic manifestations of the ineffable Real. Their authenticity is vouchsafed by the roughly equal success that Hick claims the world’s major religions have had in transforming human beings from a self-centered existence to an existence centered in the transcendent Real. Hick claims that such transformation is the essential and common function of the world’s major religions. The truth of the religions is thus evidenced soteriologically and ethically; by the love and compassion evidenced by the saints or great souls of the major traditions, and to a lesser but relatively significant way by other members of a religious tradition. This study will scrutinize and critique the fundamental components of Hick’s theory and offer a judgment on the philosophical tenability of Hick’s religious pluralism.