“We believe…” versus “We understand…”

In this article, it appears that Americans are losing their resolve to believe in their faith. The quote from the professor below shows that he feels that Americans are becoming very “shallow” in terms of their religion.

Americans: My faith isn’t the only way
In all, 70 percent of Americans with a religious affiliation shared that view, and 68 percent said there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their own religion.”The survey shows religion in America is, indeed, 3,000 miles wide and only three inches deep,” said D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist of religion.”There’s a growing pluralistic impulse toward tolerance and that is having theological consequences,” he said.

There are different ways to interpret the cause of the pluralistic impulse in America. The first is as Mr. Lindsay suggested, that Americans are promoting tolerance and acceptance of other beliefs. Americans typically think that tolerance is a forward-thinking, almost trendy, notion.  So it may seem reasonable to draw the connection that Americans are becoming pluralistic out of an ego-driven desire to appear tolerant.

However, I think that there is a flaw with this theory. If Americans were doing this for the sake of tolerance, it would not have any impact on their belief of the truth. In racial tolerance, there is still acknowledgment that the races are different, but we acknowledge that the difference is irrelevant to social harmony. In religious tolerance, the same is true. Christians exhibiting religious tolerance do not have to accept that the other religion is no different in terms of truth, they just have to accept that the difference should not alter their interaction with society.

That being said, there is no need for a tolerant Christian to say that the Hindu might go to heaven.

The telling remark is “Another finding almost defies explanation: 21 percent of self-identified atheists said they believe in God or a universal spirit, with 8 percent ‘absolutely certain’ of it.” This indicates that the trend is not one of acceptance of other beliefs but an un-surety of their own.

This uneasiness of their own belief is most likely the true reason for the pluralistic impulse. The question becomes why are Americans becoming unsure? Are pastors no longer convincing enough? Is the world influence becoming too strong? Is the Bible no longer emphasized in enough in our supposedly secular society?

Or has science, logic, and exposure (as opposed to tolerance) given Christians a flood of information that has stacked up against the vague aspects in their own beliefs? I don’t intend to identify or criticize these ambiguities, their worthiness of belief is an introspective exercise for the individual. However, perhaps Americans are just becoming more open and aware to the fact that it is possible that their religions understanding of the truth may be incomplete.

Contrary to what the writer is insinuating, Americans are still saying “we believe…”, but they are finally appending “we don’t completely understand what we believe…”

1 thought on ““We believe…” versus “We understand…”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *