Adherents of religious pluralism recognize that different religions make different truth claims. For example, most Christians believe that Jesus was God incarnate and that he died for the salvation of humanity, while most Buddhists believe that enlightenment liberates the individual from the cycle of rebirth so that he may enter Nirvana. Although there are approaches that allow for a certain approximation between both beliefs, usually neither Christians claim that Christ leads to Nirvana, nor Buddhists claim that Buddha was an incarnated deity.
Religious pluralists point out that nearly all religious texts are a combination of an assortment of human observations documented, for example, as historical narratives, poetry, lections, and morality plays. Accordingly, a distinction exists between what may be claimed as literal in a religious text and what may be metaphorical. The text, therefore, is open to interpretation. In this light, no religion is able to comprehensively capture and communicate all truth. Although all religions attempt to capture reality, their attempts occur within particular cultural and historical contexts that affect the writer's viewpoint.
Adherents of religious pluralism, in this sense, hold that their faith is "true". That is, their religion is the most complete and accurate revelation of the divine available, yet they also accept that other religions teach many truths about the nature of God and man, and which establish a significant amount of common ground.
Many religious pluralists claim that members of other faiths are searching for the same truths in different ways, and that all religious knowledge is limited by human fallibility. This level of pluralism does not preclude holding one's own ideas or participating in the rituals or spiritual life of one particular religion or community; rather, such worshipers practice according to their own traditions, ideas, and community norms while recognizing the validity of a host of other practices or interpretations.
Many people hold that it is both permissible and imperative for people of all faiths to develop some form of religious pluralism. Liberal Christians believe that it is intellectually valid to do so because since Biblical times, humanity's understanding of man's place in the natural world has changed radically, due to advances in science; and advances in travel and communications are thought to rule out isolationism.
In the last century, liberal forms of some religions (Reconstructionist Judaism and Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalism, etc.) have modified some of their religious positions. As opposed to orthodox believers, religious liberals no longer claim that their religion is complete and of absolute accuracy, and in fact view many claims made within their scriptures as questionable or incorrect.
Inter-religious dialogue is difficult if the partners adopt a position of particularism, i.e. if they only care about the concerns of their own group, but is favored by the opposite attitude of universalism, where care is taken for the concerns of others. Interfaith dialogue is easier if a religion's adherents have some form of inclusivism, the belief that people in other religions may also have a way to salvation, even though the fullness of salvation can be achieved only in one’s own religion. Conversely, believers with an exclusivist mindset will rather tend to proselytize followers of other religions, rather than seek an open-ended dialogue with them.
Many religious believers believe that religious pluralism should entail not competition but cooperation, and argue that societal and theological change is necessary to overcome religious differences between different religions, and denominational conflicts within the same religion. For most religious traditions, this attitude is essentially based on a non-literal view of one's religious traditions, hence allowing for respect to be engendered between different traditions on fundamental principles rather than more marginal issues. It is perhaps summarized as an attitude which rejects focus on immaterial differences, and instead gives respect to those beliefs held in common.
Giving one religion or denomination special rights that are denied to others can weaken religious pluralism. This situation obtains in certain European countries, where Roman Catholicism or regional forms of Protestantism have special status. For example see the entries on the Lateran Treaty and Church of England
Relativism, the belief that all religions are equal in their value and that none of the religions gives access to absolute truth, is an extreme form of inclusivism. Likewise, syncretism, the attempt to take over creeds of practices from other religions or even to blend practices or creeds from different religions into one new faith is an extreme form of inter-religious dialogue. Syncretism must not be confused with ecumenism, the attempt to bring closer and eventually reunite different denominations of one religion that have a common origin but were separated by a schism.
The existence of religious pluralism depends on the existence of freedom of religion. Freedom of religion exists when different religions of a particular region possess the same rights of worship and public expression. Freedom of religion is restrained in many Islamic countries, such as in Saudi Arabia, where the public practice of religions other than Islam is forbidden, in Iran, where the Baha'is have no legal rights and are persecuted, and in the Palestinian Authority, where Arab Christians report they are frequent victims of religious persecution by Muslims.
Religious freedom did not exist at all in many Communist countries such as Albania and the Stalinist Soviet Union, where the state prevented the public expression of religious belief and even persecuted some or all religions. This situation persists still today in North Korea, and to some extent in China and Vietnam
Although in Japan Buddhism and Shinto have more or less co-existed for centuries, the arrival of Christianity through Francis Xavier led to widespread persecution of Christians and the eventual exclusion of Christianity for hundreds of years until the Meiji era, as the rulers of Japan saw it as a threat. Christians and Buddhists were also persecuted under State Shinto.
There was, though, a problem with people whose religion excluded the veneration of other gods - especially the Jews and the Christians. The Romans tended to view this as rebellion, and so it resulted in many conflicts arising from often unintended offenses, like putting a statue of an emperor in a prominent place in Jerusalem which resulted in a public revolt. Similarly difficult to understand for the Roman mindset was the attitude of Christians who rather chose torture or death instead of offering a incense to the Roman emperor. From the Roman view, the refusal to venerate the Roman emperor was political treason.
The edict of Milan which decreed tolerance of Christianity was followed by a time of parallel existence of Christianity and paganism which was, though, far from an actual religious pluralism - the religion of the emperor was always at an advantage, and the Arian, trinitarian and pagan emperors in the fourth century saw it as perfectly legitimate to take measures against religious leaders who did not share their belief. By the fifth century, the western Roman Empire had crumbled, but the same patterns of behavior continued in the Gaul, Celtic, and Germanic kingdoms that replaced it.
The tradition of the head of the tribe as head of the church was continued by the Kings which these chieftains eventually evolved into, with the king and/or emperor holding by virtue of office the right of investiture of bishops and also of deciding in religious matters - Charlemagne, e.g., took the Pope to task for not using the filioque in the Nicene Creed. The religion of the ruler was the official religion of the people and, again, any tolerance of foreigners or remnants of pagans was up to the present ruler. The unity of religion was generally seen as a prerequisite for any worldly state - a divergent religion was in the consequence not regarded just as a religious problem but also an action against state and ruler punishable by criminal law.
In the high Middle Ages, the worldly powers clashed with the power of the pope on the matter of deciding about religious questions - while the details varied by country, the overall result was that the Roman Catholic Church was able to, for a short time, exercise control over the religious practices of countries, even against that Ruler's will.
Restrictions on smaller Protestant sects who disagreed with the national churches in these countries prompted such groups as the Pilgrim Fathers to seek freedom in North America, although when these became the majority they sometimes sought to deny this freedom to Jews and Roman Catholics.
In Transylvania it was declared in 1568 at Turda the religious tolerance for every religion and it was realised the religious pluralism. The role of authority was to supervise the peaceful religious cohabitation between Catholics, Calvinist, Lutheran, antirtinitarians, orthodox,sabbatharians, Jews and Muslims. The Transylvanian situation remained for long time a isolated fearful model of "diabolic liberty" (Beze, Basel,1569)but was well known and appreciated between religious persecuted antitrinitarians in Holland and in England.
Protestant and freethinking philosophers like John Locke and Thomas Paine, who argued for tolerance and moderation in religion, were strongly influential on the Founding Fathers, and the modern religious freedom and equality underlying religious pluralism in the United States are guaranteed by First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states:
In the United States religious pluralism can be said to be overseen by the secular state, which guarantees equality under law between different religions, whether these religion have a handful of adherents or many millions. The state also guarantees the freedom of those who choose not to belong to any religion.
While the United States had to begin with no dominant religion or denomination, this was very different in European countries who have, without exception, a history with one dominant Christian denomination whose influence on their culture is felt until present times. Enlightenment in Europe did not so much promote the rights of minority religions but the rights of individuals to express beliefs diverging from the mainstream religion of the country, while belonging to that religion or being outside of it. While European countries generally went the way of gradually increasing the rights for minority denominations and religions, until today the stress is more on the freedom of belief of the individual and the rights of religious organizations are often limited by the state to prevent them intruding upon the individual religious freedom.
There is a separate entry on Jewish views of religious pluralism, which discusses both classical and modern views of Judaism's relationship to other religions, and the permissibility and purpose of inter-faith theological dialogue.
Christianity teaches that humankind's nature is corrupted and damaged, and that the result of such damage, known as Sin, is damnation.(see the Epistle to the Romans) To avoid such a fate, Christianity teaches that Jesus was God made flesh in a literal manner, and that he suffered, died, and rose again so that the divine punishment intended for those who did not have a relationship with God would instead fall upon Jesus himself, and that by accepting Jesus as savior and God and repenting, a person could then have a meaningful relationship with God and avoid damnation, and be given gift of eternal life in Heaven, as well as have their spiritual natures repaired and renewed so that they were no longer inherently corrupted by sin.
Christians hold that the consequence of self-separation from the triune God, (caused by Sin), who they view as the ultimate source of all life, is eternal death. Some view Christianity as a form of egalitarianism, because it teaches that all humanity potentially has equal access to salvation: a person simply has to renounce their sins and sincerely believe in the death and resurrection of Christ.
Christians have traditionally argued that religious pluralism is an invalid or self-contradictory concept. Maximal forms of religious pluralism claim that all religions are equally true, or that one religion can be true for some and another for others. This Christians hold to be logically impossible. (Most Jews and Muslims similarly reject this maximal form of pluralism.) Christianity insists it is the fullest and most complete revelation of God to Man. (Gospel of John 14:6, "Jesus answered him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.'" God's Word Translation)
One image of the Church that was often used by the Church fathers was that of a hospital. In this analogy the doctor does not always care for a patient in the way the patient would like, but in the way best suited to bring about healing to the patient. (Entry into the hospital should of course be voluntary.) Doing what pluralists ask would be somewhat akin to accommodating the false prophet" of the Old Testament who prophesied to the king what he wanted to hear, predictions of victory, rather than God's words of certain defeat that could only be avoided through thorough repentance.
To these Christians, it appears to be a contradiction for non-Christians to acknowledge the validity of Christian prayers or sacraments, but continue to deny the beliefs which underlie those prayers and sacraments.
Although Calvinists believe God and the truth of God cannot be plural, they also believe that those civil ordinances of man which restrain man from evil and encourage toward good, are ordinances of God (regardless of the religion, or lack of it, of those who wield that power). Christians are obligated to be at peace with all men, as far as it is up to them, and to submit to governments for the Lord's sake, and to pray for enemies.
Calvinism is not pacifistic and Calvinists have been involved in religious wars, notably the French Wars of Religion and the English Civil War. Some of the first parts of modern Europe to practice religious tolerance had Calvinistic populations, notably the Netherlands.
The most prominent event in the way of dialogue between religions has arguably been the 1986 Peace Prayer in Assisi to which Pope John Paul II, against considerable resistance also from within the Roman Catholic church, invited representatives of all world religions. This initiative was taken up by the Community of Sant'Egidio, who, with the support of John Paul II, organized yearly peace meetings of religious representatives. These meetings, consisting of round tables on different issues and of a common time of prayer has done much to further understanding and friendship between religious leaders and to further concrete peace initiatives. In order to avoid the reproaches of syncretism that were levelled at the 1986 Assisi meeting where the representatives of all religions held one common prayer, the follow-up meetings saw the representatives of the different religions pray in different places according to their respective traditions.
In recent years there has been much to note in the way of reconciliation between some Christian groups and the Jewish people. Many modern day Christians, including many Catholics and some liberal Protestants, have developed a view of the New Testament as an extended covenant; They believe that Jews are still in a valid relationship with God, and that Jews can avoid damnation and earn a heavenly reward. For these Christians, the New Testament extended God's original covenant to cover non-Jews. The article Christian-Jewish reconciliation deals with this issue in detail.
Many smaller Christian groups in the US and Canada have come into being over the last 40 years, such as "Christians for Israel". Their website says that they exist in order to "expand Christian-Jewish dialogue in the broadest sense in order to improve the relationship between Christians and Jews, but also between Church and Synagogue, emphasizing Christian repentance, the purging of anti-Jewish attitudes and the false 'Replacement' theology rampant throughout Christian teachings."
A number of large Christian groups, including the Catholic Church and several large Protestant churches, have publicly declared that they will no longer proselytize Jews.
Other Modern Christian views, including most conservative Protestants, reject the idea of the New Testament as an extended covenant, and retain the classical Christian view as described above.
The question of whether Confucianism, and Chinese folk religion, consists of worshipping a God or veneration of a saint was important to the Roman Catholic church during the Chinese Rites controversy of the early 18th century. This dispute was between the Dominicans who argued that Confucianism and Chinese folk religion was worship, and therefore incompatible with Catholicism, and the Jesuit who argued the reverse. The pope ultimately ruled in favor of the Dominicans, a decision which greatly reduced the role of Catholic missionaries in China. However, this decision was partially reversed by Pope Pius XII in 1939; after this, Chinese customs were no longer considered superstition or idolatry, but a way of honoring esteemed relatives (not entirely dissimilar to the Catholic practice of praying for the dead).
Some compare the Church to Noah's Ark. It is not impossible for someone to "survive the flood" of sin by clinging to whatever driftwood is around or by trying to cobble together a raft from bits and pieces of whatever floats, but the Ark is a far safer choice to make. Likewise, the heterodox and even non-Christians might be saved simply through God's own choice, made for His own reasons, but it is far safer for any individual person to turn to the Orthodox Church. Thus, it behooves Orthodox Christians to exhort others to take this safer path. Likewise, the Orthodox remember that Christ mentions one, and only one thing that unfailingly leads to perdition--blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. No other path is explicitly and universally excluded by Christ's words.
Orthodox Christianity has a long history of religious tolerance that has evolved towards some degree of religious pluralism. Advocation of justice and peace towards members of other faiths is seen in a 16th century encyclical written by Ecumenical Patriarch Metrophanes III (1520–1580).
The Fifth Academic Meeting between Judaism And Orthodox Christianity was held in Thessaloniki, Greece, on May 27-29, 2003. In his opening remarks, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew denounced religious fanaticism and rejected attempts by any faith to denigrate others. The following principles were adopted at the meeting:
Writing for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Rev. Protopresbyter George C. Papademetriou has written a summary of classical Christian and Greek Orthodox Christian views on the subject of the salvation of non-Christians. In his paper An Orthodox Christian View of Non-Christian Religions writes:
As is common in many other faiths, the question of salvation for those outside of Orthodox Christianity is understandably secondary to what the Church expects of its own adherents. As St. Theophan the Recluse put the matter: "You ask, will the heterodox be saved... Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your own sins... I will tell you one thing, however: should you, being Orthodox and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray Orthodoxy, and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever."
Nevertheless, Muslims hold that for someone to worship any other gods or deities (Shirk (polytheism)) is a sin that will lead to eternal separation from Allah. This particularly applies to Christians believing in the Trinity.
Muslims believe that other religions are either false, or started by a prophet sent by Allah whose teachings (Islam) were later corrupted or changed.
Muslims believe that Allah sent the Qur'an to bring peace and harmony to humanity through Islam (submission to Allah). Muhammad's worldwide mission was to establish universal peace under the Khilafat. The Khilafat ensured security of the lives and property of non-Muslims under the dhimmi system. This status was originally only made available to non-Muslims who were "People of the Book" (i.e. Christians, and Jews), but was later extended to include Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Mandeans, and, in some areas, Hindus and Buddhists. Dhimmi had more rights than other non-Muslim religious subjects, but fewer legal and social rights than Muslims. Some Muslims, however, disagree, and hold that adherents of these faiths cannot be dhimmi.
Dhimmi enjoyed some freedoms under the state founded by Muhammad and could practice their religious rituals according to their faith and beliefs. They had limited tolerance, but were prevented from prosletysing, building new places of worship or repairing old places of worship. Such theoretical tolerance could be tenuous and readily break down, as for example when the Jewish and Christian peoples of Arabia were forcibly exiled in the early Islamic age.
It should be noted that non-Muslims who were not classified as "people of the book", for example practitioners of the pre-Muslim indigenous Arabian religions, had few or no rights in Muslim society. Muslim rule spread through conquest and this indirectly coerced many to convert to Islam. In other words, war was waged to put lands under Muslim rule, but the subjects were theoretically free to continue practice whatever religion they chose. However, the non-Muslim Dhimmis were subject to taxation jizyah at a different rate of the Muslim zakat. Dhimmis also faced economic impediments, restrictions on political participation and/or social advancement based on their non-Muslim status.
Religious persecution is also not sanctioned by some readings of Islam, but is partly due to cruel rulers, or general economic hardships in the societies they are in. Pre-Islamic religious minorities continue to exist in some of their native countries, although only as marginal percentages of the overall population.
Over the centuries, several known religious debates, and polemical works did exist in various Muslim countries between various Muslim sects, as well as between Muslims and non-Muslims. Many of these works survive today, and make for some very interesting reading in the apologetics genre. Only when such debates spilled over to the unlearned masses, and thus causing scandals, and civil strife did rulers intervene to restore order and pacify the public outcry on the perceived attack on their beliefs.
As for sects within Islam, history shows a variable pattern. Various sects became intolerant when gaining favour with the rulers, and often work to oppress or eliminate rival sects (e.g. Mu'tazili persecution of Salafis, Safavid imposing Shia on the population of Iran, ...etc.). Sectarian strife between Shia and Sunni inhabitants of Baghdad is well known through history.
Bahá'í's refer to the concept of Progressive Revelation, which means that God's will is revealed to mankind progressively as mankind matures and is better able to comprehend the purpose of God in creating humanity. In this view, God's word is revealed through a series of messengers: Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, and Bahá'u'lláh (the founder of the Bahá'í Faith) among them. In the Kitáb-i-Íqán (Book of Certitude), Bahá'u'lláh explains that messengers of God have a twofold station, one of divinity and one of an individual. According to Bahá'í writings, there will not be another messenger for many hundreds of years. There is also a respect for the religious traditions of the native peoples of the planet who may have little other than oral traditions as a record of their religious figures.
The Sikh Gurus (religious leaders) have propagated the message of "many paths" leading to the one God and ultimate salvation for all souls who treading on the path of righteousness. They have supported the view that proponents of all faiths can, by doing good and virtuous deeds and by remembering the Lord can certainly achieve salvation. The students of the Sikh faith are told to accept all leading faiths as possible vehicle for attaining spiritual enlightenment provided the faithful study, ponder and practice the teachings of their prophets and leaders. The holy book of the Sikhs called the Sri Guru Granth Sahib says: "Do not say that the Vedas, the Bible and the Koran are false. Those who do not contemplate them are false." Guru Granth Sahib page 1350. and " The seconds,minutes,and hours,days,weeks and months and various seasons originate from One Sun;O nanak,in just the same way, the many forms originate from the Creator."Guru Granth Sahib page 12,13
The Guru Granth Sahib also says that Bhagat Namdev and Bhagat Kabir who were both believed to be Hindus, both attained salvation though they were born before Sikhism took root and were clearly not Sikhs. This highlight and reinforces the Guru's saying that "peoples of other faiths" can join with God as true and also at the same time signify that Sikhism is not the exclusive path for liberation. Again, the Guru Granth Sahib provides this verse: "Naam Dayv the printer, and Kabeer the weaver, obtained salvation through the Perfect Guru. Those who know God and recognize His Shabad ("word") lose their ego and class consciousness." Guru Granth Sahib page 67 Most of the 15 Sikh Bhagats who are mentioned in their holy book were non-Sikhs and belonged to Hindu and Muslim faiths, which were the most prevalent religions of this region.
Sikhs have always being eager exponents of interfaith dialogue and will not only accept the right of other to practise their faith but have in the past fought and laid down their lives to protect this right for others. See the sacrifice of the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadar who on the final desperate and heart-rending pleas of the Kashmiri Pandit, agreed to put up a fight for their right to practise their religion. In this regard, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru writes in the Dasam Granth :
For these reasons, the Sikhs have promoted their faith as an Interfaith religion and have taken a lead in uniting all the different religions of the world so that together peace and prosperity can be found for all the peoples of this Globe and the suffering of the poor of the Third world can be properly addressed together. The message of unity of the faiths is summed up in this quotation from the Guru Granth Sahib: "One who recognizes that all spiritual paths lead to the One shall be emancipated. One who speaks lies shall fall into hell and burn. In all the world, the most blessed and sanctified are those who remain absorbed in Truth." (Guru Granth Sahib page 142) Srigranth.org, Guru Granth Sahib page 142
Anekāntavāda encourages its adherents to consider views or beliefs of their rivals and opposing parties. Proponents of anekantvāda apply this principle to religion and philosophy, reminding themselves that any religion or philosophy, even Jainism, which clings too dogmatically to its own tenets, is committing an error based on its limited point of view. The principle of anekāntavāda also influenced Mahatma Gandhi's principles of religious tolerance, Ahimsa and Satyagraha.
Anekānta is firmly entrenched in the Jain texts as is evident from the various teachings of the Jain scriptures. Ācārya Amrtacandra starts his famous 10th Century C. E. work Purusathasiddhiupaya by paying obeisance to the doctrine of anekānta:
Ācārya Divākara further states in Sanmatitarka:
The concept of anekānta and syādvāda allows the Jains to accept the truth in other philosophies from their perspective and thus inculcating a tolerance for other viewpoints. Anekantvāda is non-absolutist and stands firmly against all dogmatisms, even including any assertion that only Jainism is the right religious path. It is thus an intellectual Ahimsā or Ahimsā of mind.
Māhavīra encouraged his followers to study and understand the rival traditions as evidenced in Acaranga Sutra :
In Anekantvāda, there is no "battle of ideas", because this is considered to be a form of intellectual himsa or damage, leading quite logically to physical violence and war. In today's world, the limitations of the adversarial, "either with us or against us " form of argument are increasingly apparent leading to political, religious and social conflicts.
Sutrakritanga, the second oldest canon of Jainism, provides a solution by stating:
Ethnocentrism of any sort (including the idea of belonging to a 'school of Buddhism' as well as evangelism and religious supremacism) is in Buddhist thought, rooted in self-grasping and reified thought - the cause of Samsara itself. However, that is the official view of traditional Buddhism, Buddhists understand that "ignorance" or "avidya", which is akin to "original sin" in Buddhism, is the source of all misunderstandings, war and turmoil. The removal of that ignorance takes time and effort on the part of everyone, Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike.
The current Dalai Lama has repeatedly pointed out that any attempt to convert individuals from their beliefs is not only non-Buddhist, but abusive: the identification of evangelism as an expression of compassion he considers to be false, and indeed the idea that Buddhism is the one true path is likewise false. What Buddhists are encouraged to do is to act as sensitively and appropriately to each situation as they can, and in the process not allow any reifying views obscure their capability to do so. Buddhists are supposed to use their understanding of the shortfalls of the world as the basis for compassion, and then focus this compassion on their own development: as enlightened beings, they will be able to deal more adequately with the sufferings of the world.
In brief then, the expression of compassion is done so in the languages and beliefs that Buddhists find around them. For instance, when Buddhists talk with Christians, it is an abuse to deny Christ, God or the immortal soul- what they can hope to do is to help people within their own belief structure to greater insight and greater kindness. Indeed what Buddhists philosophers such as Nagarjuna and Candrakirti demonstrated so well is that Buddhists can use language to defeat language. Buddhists can use the conventions of the world to reveal them for what they are, within the contexts that they find them. If Buddhists wish to help those around them, they are admonished to continually demonstrate exemplary behaviour, displaying a way of being that inspires everyone to better themselves, which is contextual, sensitive, and everyone-centred. These positions hold for both inter-religious and intra-religious pluralism.
The Buddha also related to issues of "religion" using the parable of a man wounded by an arrow asking who shot the arrow, what the arrow was made of, and so forth, until he finally died. This parable is meant to show how it is not Buddhism's domain to focus on the supernatural.
Church unity was something very visible and tangible, and schism was just as serious an offense as heresy. Following the Great Schism, Roman Catholicism sees and recognizes the Orthodox Sacraments as valid. Eastern Orthodoxy does not have the concept of "validity" when applied to Sacraments, but it considers the form of Roman Catholic Sacraments to be acceptable, if still devoid of actual spiritual content. Both generally regard each other as "heterodox" and "schismatic", while continuing to recognize each other as Christian. Attitudes of both towards different Protestant groups vary, primarily based upon how strongly Trinitarian the Protestant group in question might be.
Many Christians hold that the Christian church is not just an institution, which can be broken into many denominations. They hold that each instituted church is able to worship God in a way that conforms to Scripture, which allows for many different styles and customs. They hold that all true Christians are united in belief in Jesus Christ, which can be judged against such documents as the Apostles' Creed.
Modern Christian ideas on intra-religious pluralism (between different denominations of Christianity) are discussed in the article on Ecumenism.
Some Shiite, Suni and Sufi Islamic leaders are willing to recognize each other's denomination as a valid form of Islam. However, many other Islamic leaders are unwilling to accept this; they view other forms of Islam as outside the Islamic religion.