Religious Pluralism

Professor Diana L. Eck, director of the Harvard Pluralism Project, makes clear that:

(1) “Pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity.”

“Diversity can and has meant the creation of religious ghettos with little traffic between or among them. Today, religious diversity is a given, but pluralism is not a given; it is an achievement. Mere diversity without real encounter and relationship will yield increasing tensions in our societies.”

(2) “Pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference.”

“Tolerance is a necessary public virtue, but it does not require Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and secularists to know anything about one another. In the world in which we live today, our ignorance of one another will be increasingly costly.”

(3) “Pluralism is not relativism, but the encounter of commitments.”

“The new paradigm of pluralism does not require us to leave our identities and our commitments behind, for pluralism is the encounter of commitments. It means holding our deepest differences, even our religious differences, not in isolation, but as part of ongoing human relationships.”

(4) “Pluralism is based on dialogue.”The language of pluralism is that of dialogue and encounter, give and take, criticism and self-criticism. 

“Dialogue means both speaking and listening, and that process reveals both common understandings and real differences. Dialogue does not mean everyone at the ‘table’ will agree with one another. Pluralism involves the commitment to being at the table — with one’s commitments.”