Intro to Theology
Differing Beliefs on Religious Plurality: Karl Rahner and Gavin D’Costa
Heaven, Nirvana, Paradise, Zion, What do you call it? Regardless of race, creed,
or walk of life, if you believe in a religion, you have also put your faith into a final
resting place of eternal bliss.
With the acceptance of heaven though, you must also
accept the rejection of Hell as an option. Hell, Sheol, Gehenna, Hades, no matter what
you wish to call this, the names mean the same thing: damnation and punishment.
Whether you claim Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, or what have you, Heaven
is readily attainable.
It is no new concept, but it has been argued that any valid
monotheistic religion will gain you acceptance into heaven based merely on belief in the
God of your religion. This belief is called religious plurality. Comments and controversy
alike surround this belief.
Although many theologians and philosophers throughout the
centuries have written their beliefs on the subject, I will be choosing two more recent
theologians: Karl Rahner and Gavin D’Costa.
Religious plurality carries somewhat broad definitions ranging anywhere from
inter-religious dialogue to the relativity of truth among religions.
My usage of religious
plurality in this paper will include: all religions are legitimate and valid, all religions
teach multiple truths, which are valid, religious truth is relative, and religions all agree on
one central truth. Religious plurality can be defined as "The belief that multiple religions
or secular world views are legitimate and valid. Each is true when viewed from within its
Susan Laemmle, a Rabbi and the Dean of Religious Live at USC described
religious pluralism in the following way:
“…all spiritual paths are finally leading to the
same sacred ground.”
Seena Fazel, a member of the Baha’i Faith explains religious
plurality as “the theory that the great world religions constitute varying conceptions of,
and responses to, the one ultimate, mysterious divine reality.”
I define religious plurality
as the equality, validity, and plurality of all religions in their own respects, beliefs, and
customs. (Robinson, B.A.)
Karl Rahner, 1904-1984, was one of the most systematic and developed
theologians of his time.
His theological prowess made him one of the most influential, if
not the most influential, Roman Catholic theologians in the history of Catholicism. His
ideas and beliefs had a primary hand in the Second Vatican Council.