The following are four approaches one can take when addressing another’s faith.*
Exclusivist – Believe in “the only true church.” Exclusivists may see the church or the restored gospel as the only means of salvation. They may not openly try to share the gospel with everyone, everywhere, but that is their goal. The most obvious members in this category often include “I know this is the only true church” in bearing their testimony. They may appear to be intolerant of other religions practices, or be accused of having an agenda in their relationships with non-members.
Rejectionist – Basic religious concepts (such as a creator) are denied, and religion is viewed as a crutch or a psychological defense. Rejectionists like to point out that spiritual experiences are invalid because they cannot be known objectively. They may have some disdain for religion and may think that we would be better off without religion because of all the conflict it has caused in the world.
Constructivist – Believe that everyone constructs their own meaning and reality even if there may not be an absolute truth. It is the quality of the other’s perspective that matters in the sense that it must be consistent and helpful in living and coping. This group may be comfortable talking about religion from another’s perspective, but may not necessarily believe that anyone has “the Truth” or that absolute truth in terms of religion is even knowable.
Pluralist – Believe in a spiritual reality or truth, but also believe that everyone interprets it differently, which allows for differences among religions and cultures. They are open to sharing their beliefs, but also open to the idea that they may not have it all. They like to quote Paul saying, “we see through a glass darkly.” They also like the story of the blind men and the elephant.
These approaches do not necessarily dictate whether someone is a believer or not. For example, not all atheists are rejectionists.
What approach do you have to the faith of others? Please click here to participate in a quick poll. Are these categories exclusive? Do we use them even amongst fellow members? How do we react to those who approach our faith from a different perspective?