In ‘The Impossibility of a Pluralist View of Religions’ (Religious Studies 32, June 1996) Gavin D'Costa argues that ‘pluralism must always logically be a form of exclusivism and that nothing called pluralism really exists’ (225). He sees himself as doing a ‘conceptual spring cleaning exercise’ (225). However the result is to obscure clear and useful distinctions by confused and confusing ones. Some further spring cleaning is therefore called for.
The religious pluralism that D'Costa is referring to is the view that the great world religions constitute conceptually and culturally different responses to an ultimate transcendent reality, these responses being, so far as we can tell, more or less on a par when judged by their fruits. And the religious exclusivism to which he refers holds that one particular religion – in his case Christianity – is alone fully true and salvific, the others being either wholly misleading, or inferior imitations of or inferior approximations to the one ‘true’ religion.
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