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#624 Divine Revelation and Religious Pluralism

March 31, 2019

Hello DrCraig. I am reader of your articles from India. I love your work. I am a midway between an agnostic and a believer (if there can be). Your arguments regarding natural theology seems very compelling to me. But when it comes to exclusivity of Christianity, the thing that nowadays come into my mind is this: Christ's existence and resurrection is warranted based on historical probability and if we consider them to be true, but there are miracles done by Indian gurus, gods in my native land.

So, a person from my cultural background may end up on hypothesis like this: "No one really knows God, to no one he is really revealed. There are miracles that justifies to us, his existence or existence of supernatural but God has revealed different theological model (often contradictory, or inconsistent) to different people in order to check people's obedience."

I think one way to know whether the second possibility is feasible is by ascertaining that God established by natural theology can't do such thing. I think it is the moral argument that we should use. But do you think it is immoral for God to reveal different truths to different people. After all, many Christian denominations believe differently and many claim that it is because of revelation from God. I would be grateful if you would consider my question to be worthy to be answered or have it answered any other way. Thank You.


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Dr. craig’s response


Initially, I thought that your question, Moti, was going to be the old objection of David Hume that all religions have their miracles and thus cancel each other out. (I’ve replied to that question in Reasonable Faith in the chapter on miracles.) But then your question takes a quite different turn toward religious pluralism. In that case you should look at what I’ve written on that topic.

The suggestion here is not that every religion has its false claims to miracles, but that God has really done miraculous acts in different religious traditions in order to get people to embrace those traditions. What is unclear here is just who “God” refers to. The Christian God? Has he performed miracles in India in order to get people to believe falsely that Hinduism is true? That seems inconceivable. Since forgiveness of sins and eternal life is available only through Christ’s atoning death, it would follow that God is deceiving these people to lead them to hell. That is incoherent with the nature of the Christian God, who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2.3).

So who is the God we’re talking about here? The God of religious pluralists? That can’t be right either, since the God of religious pluralists is a characterless Absolute who is not a person and so does not do miracles.

So whom are we talking about?  The God of Islam?  Allah is praised as a great deceiver, so he would fit the bill.  But are we to think that, contrary to the Qur’an, Allah has raised Jesus from the dead, thereby resulting in hundreds of millions of people’s following the Christian religion, to the shame and dishonor of Islam? No good Muslim could ever accept such a thing.

So who is this God?  I just don’t see any reason to think that such a being as you describe exists. Indeed, as you rightly discern, such a God is incompatible with the arguments of natural theology, not only the moral argument but also the ontological argument. It is not immoral that God should “reveal different truths to different people.” God revealed different truths to Jews in the Old Testament than He has to Christians in the New Testament. But that’s the point: they are both truths!  What God cannot do is reveal incompatible beliefs to different people, for then what God is revealing to most people are falsehoods, not truths, so that God is a deceiver.

In the case of the multiplicity of Christian denominations, the situation is not that God has revealed different truths to different people but rather that people interpret differently the truths God has revealed in Scripture.

- William Lane Craig