Most helpful critical review
6 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2009
I would first like to comment on the structure of the book, then take a look at a few of Hick's arguments. Finally, I'll mention a little about what I thought over all.
I was really excited to read this book. I've read many articles but never a book on religious pluralism. I know John Hick is considered an authority on the subject as well, so I was anticipating a good read. However, I came to notice that the book became increasingly disorganized half way through the book. I don't mean to say that the transitions between chapters were incoherent; but rather thoughts mid-paragraph changed subjects and questions raised were not answer.
Its noted that Hick calls these arguments "theories" and "hypotheses." However, if we are going to at all take him seriously, its necessary to examine these beliefs as if he does, in fact, believe them.
(1) The unoriginal argument of religion's conditioning based upon geographical status, socio-economic status, etc. is deeply flawed and I thought Hick would have offered a more rigorous support for this claim than he did in his book. For example, to say that a person is a Christian because he/she was born in the West and that if that individual were born in, say, Morocco, he/she would have been Muslim is a principle that goes for the pluralist as well, if we are at all to take this argument seriously. That is, if the pluralist were born in Morocco, he/she would also most likely be Muslim. This argument doesn't work--in this simplistic form that Hick offered at least (pg. 74).
(2) Hick makes that argument that religious experience is one that reveals a part of Reality's (the transcendent force that some call God, or gods) character. Now, he does manage to defend his position in saying that where religions differ in religious experience is simply an "image" of seeing Reality; thus, the more perspectives of religious experience we have, the more complete picture of Reality we have. He also manages to state that the conflicting points among religions only seem to be conflicting. In reality, they do not reflect contradictions of religious experience per se because they are religious experiences on different levels. However, then, my question is how, with Hick's pluralism, one is able to confront the issue of religious experience that communicates to the individual the invalidity, falsity, and heresy of another person's religious experience (I Kings 18:20-40). I believe that instances such as these, which can be found in the teachings of many religions, discount Hick's argument--or at least suspend it until his theory is further developed.
For brevity's sake, I will conclude by saying that if Hick's thoughts (that Jesus was a metaphorical figure which was only used by ancient philosophy and religion to lead us to the transcendent Reality) reflects his own heart, Hick is not a Christian by the Bible's standards (Ex. 32; Is. 2:6,8; Jer. 51; Luke 24:36-39; John 3:16; John 14:6; Rom. 3:26; Rom. 8:29; I Cor. 8:6; I Tim. 2:5; I John 2:23; II John 9).