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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Judaism and Religious Pluralism

In the recent past John Hick has produced a significant amount of material defending a particular kind of religious pluralism. Even if one disagrees with Hick’s version thereof, a religion’s theological flexibility to incorporate a just pluralism of one sort or another is seen to be a virtue of said religion. A theology that promotes exclusivism is, by my lights at least, to be viewed with suspicion for it hardly befits an omnibenevolent God to exclude a significant proportion of humanity from salvation.
I am wondering, therefore, what is Judaism’s view on this matter? Is Judaism an exclusivist, inclusivist, or a pluralist religion (where these terms are to be understood a la Hick)? No doubt the various strands of Judaism will take up different and perhaps contrasting positions. But all will face at least these considerations:

The Kuzari Principle

There is an argument known as the Kuzari Principle. It tries to justify belief in whole swathes of the Biblical narrative, especially in the revelation at Mount Sinai. In this blog post, I hope to show that the argument is much stronger than it might seem. The name of the argument is slightly unfair, as it was first put forward not in R. Yehuda Halevi's Kuzari, but in Saadya Gaon's Emunot Vadeot.