John Hick is a Christian philosopher best known for his advocacy of religious pluralism. Previously a traditional evangelical, he was pushed towards pluralism by the problem of reconciling God’s love with the facts of cultural and religious diversity.
If, as Christianity has traditionally taught, faith in Christ is the only means of salvation, then those who have never heard the gospel are damned, abandoned by God to their eternal fate. This is the thought behind Theodore Drange’s argument from unbelief, and it is also the thought behind John Hick’s shift to religious pluralism. Religious belief is, it seems, in large part a product of culture. Those raised in Hindu or Buddhist countries, for example, who never hear the gospel, never have a chance to accept it. That they will die in their sins is therefore assured traditional, evangelical, exclusivist Christianity is true.
Hick’s response to this problem is to view religious truth as relative to cultures and to individuals. He rejects Christian exclusivism as false, seeing different religions as appropriate, if culturally conditioned, responses to â€˜the Real‘.