By Not Known
We presently have some reminders of the multi-cultural and multi-faith aspects of
Singapore. The colourful spectacle of Thaipusam reminded us of the Hindu
community. The upcoming Lunar New Year testifies to the power of traditional
beliefs in those following the lunar calendar. And so it continues with the festivals
of the Moslem and Buddhist communities at other times.
How should Christians relate to this?
There is an important distinction between tolerance and pluralism (or relativism).
Pluralism and relativism typically hold that all views are equally valid (or invalid).
Applied to religion, it means that there is no singular religious truth, no right and
wrong in religion and that all faiths are but different ways to one end.
Christians cannot agree with relativism. We hold that there is only one true God,
that Jesus alone is the Way, the truth and the life and that the only path to God is
through him and his Cross (Dt 4:4; Jn 14:6). Like the early Christians, we will
steadfastly stand on this and suffer for it if needs be. Because we love God and
love our fellow-Singaporeans we want to tell others about this truth and call on
them to believe it.
However, our insistence on this does not mean intolerance to the views of other
religions and an effort to suppress them. Rather, we can celebrate and welcome
the wide religious tolerance that exists in Singapore.
We ought to protect the public space of all religions, for we benefit from it. It’s
easier to talk about spiritual matters and witness to Jesus in Singapore than in
other places where religion is kept out of the public square. That’s something to
We differ sharply with other religions about the nature of God and the path to him.
But we agree on the importance of life’s spiritual aspects. We have more in
common with people of other religions than with the grim-faced materialists who .
insist that only matter matters. Their’s is a chilling world that should concern us
more than temples and such like.
We grumble when our plans are disrupted by the religious festivals of others and,
like Paul, our spirit is vexed (Acts 17:16). But let’s look beyond the inconvenience
and vexation to welcome the tolerance of Singapore and its opportunity to love
and witness to others in Jesus’ name.