Clair Short wrote that Professor John Hick (also of Birmingham) concluded that ‘all the world’s great religions are equally valid in their search for God’. Many other people claim that ‘all religions are equal’. Is that simply taken as a given? Is it true by definition? Or is it only true of the monotheistic religions? (So what about non-monotheistic Hinduism?) If that is the case, then isn’t it prejudiced against other non-monotheistic religions? But if all religions are ‘equally valid’, or ‘equal’, isn’t that a bit silly?
John Hick is an academic. Many Christians in the early Middle Ages - and after - used to talk about ‘the God of the philosophers’. What about the God of the academics? A Roman philosopher once wrote (to paraphrase) that ‘if the Africans have a God/god, he will be black’. Similarly, the Muslim God/god Allah is very Arabic in nature and even speaks only Arabic. The Muslims themselves basically thought that the Jewish God was simply, well, too Jewish. It was even the case that many critics of the Church of England once said that this Church made it seem that Jesus – or even God – came from the Home Counties. (I once asked a young Anglican why all Anglican clergymen had the same Home-Counties accent. She said that ‘perhaps it is the voice of God’.) So I think that Hick’s God-construct is just as artificial as the God of the tribes.
As for all religions being ‘equal’, or even the same, this is palpable nonsense. Jainism is a completely non-violent and pacifist religion. It is not only vegetarian, but it says that we must refrain from killing insects. The Prophet Mohammed was an out-and-out warrior for much of his career and personally beheaded over one hundred people. Christians believe that Jesus was the ‘the Son of God’. Muslims think that he was just as prophet and that to think of him in this way is nothing short of an outrage. John Hicks himself claims that Jesus ‘did not claim to be God’.
So no matter how much inter-faithing and comparative religion academics like John Hick and other nice people do, the vast majority of believers outside such things think that what they have to say on many religious topics is nothing short of ridiculous and sometimes tantamount to sacrilege!