In an advance paper for Cape Town 2010 Carver T. Yu (professor of theology in Hong Kong) says that people living in Asia have dealt with religious plurality always, but never pluralism. In other words, there have always been many different religions, but never the notion (common in the West) that truth is relative and just doesn’t matter–pluralism. He says:
“Whether you are a Confucianist, or Taoist, Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu, you have an unwavering conviction that what you believe and live by is truth leading to authentic humanity or eternal salvation, and that all other paths would lead at best to an unfulfilled life and at worst to perversion and suffering. Truth matters, for it has life consequences. While respecting others, you nevertheless see it as your responsibility to point them to the right path.”
So it is a mistake to think that other religions are willing to blend their systems into a global spiritual stew. And then, a telling illustration:
“Truth has consequences in the personal dimension as well. At Amsterdam 2000, Dr. Ravi Zacharias shared his experience of defending the objectivity of moral truth to a group of Oxford students. When he finished, a student stood up and challenged him. He said, “Dr. Ravi, morality is purely emotive. ‘Right’ or ‘wrong’ expresses nothing more than personal preference in an emotional way.” Ravi responded, “If that were true, let us put it to a test. Let me put an innocent and helpless baby on this table and chop him up into three pieces with a big knife. Now would you not say that what I have done is wrong?” Calmly the student answered, “No, I would not say that. All I can say is I do not like it.” Ravi confessed that he was quite shocked. Alas, if I were there, I would have asked the student, “What if I put you on this table, ready to chop you up into three pieces, would you not say that what I am going to do is wrong and ought to be stopped immediately?” And if he said, “All I can say is, I do not like it,” then I would say, “I like it, I like it very much, and I happen to have the power to do it.” You know full well the consequences.”
Bottom line, Carver Yu reminds us: truth matters; stand up for truth.