“Christianity and Religious Diversity” by Netland

Subject: Religion
Pages: 7
Words: 1877
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: Master


Christianity and religious diversity are becoming one of the trends in the globe. Dr Harold, in his book Christianity and Religious Diversity: Clarifying Christian Commitments in the Global Age, explains different aspects of religion in the world with the main focus on Christianity, Buddhism, and Islamic. Dr Harold Netland is an author and a theological professor. The man is a strong Christian based on the different roles he plays in his life as a professional as well as a believer.1 The main focus of this paper is to review the work done by Netland in his book as well as criticize and agree with the author’s viewpoint on religion. Based on the authors’ arguments, religion has undergone a great transition in terms of pluralism, secularization, and globalization.


In the first chapter of the book “Rethink of Religion(s)”, the author describes how different religions in the world have transitioned. Different faith has been established, such as Christians, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, leading to diversity in the religion. Each category has its own religious beliefs and standings which define its faith.2 In this chapter, Netland relates religion and Christianity, making him conclude that religion has meaningless rituals and involves emptiness. Through this chapter, it is realized that the genuine faith is Christianity which entails the gift of new life by the grace and mercies of God. He uses Tillich, Barth, and Hicks’ theories to describe how the definition of religion is established on the consideration of the globalized culture. People understand religion in different ways concerning their cultural values and practices.

The author uses chapters two and three to discuss how modernization and globalization have transformed religion in the past years. As a result, of globalization, religion has been appropriated by different cultures to embrace diversity.3 For instance, Buddhism started in Ind, and through modernization and globalization, it was adopted by different countries like Japan and China in the 5th century as Buddha. Buddhism was also brought to Europe when the European realized cultural values being practiced with these Indians. People like Eugene, Burnouf, and Rhys Davis were tasked to translate Buddhist texts into different European languages to help diversify the religion.

The Theosophical Society founded by Steel was also influential in transforming religion in society. The Europeans adopted religious practices associated with Buddhism, and this presents a global transition and diversification of religion. For instance, Sir Lanka wrote A Buddhist Catechism book which was followed by the Europeans to ensure that they sink into deep religious practices of the Buddha faith. The book became a religious study manual that could be read by people and give the lay leaders time to mediate the message to other people. However, specific religious tasks/ activities were reserved for the monks to help in leading other people through the new faith. From the two chapters, it is noted that the aspect of change dominates religion. The aspects of globalization and modernization play a vital role in enhancing change in the different religious perspectives. Diversification of religious beliefs is built on the globalization steps taken by people in a given community.

Chapter four discusses how different religions in the world review Jesus Christ. In modern society, people like John Hick help describe how diversified religions see Jesus. It is believed that all region believes are directly connected with the same objective to see God. However, the path/faith taken by an individual to meet God defines their different religious backgrounds. The aspect of religious pluralism helps in understanding different aspects of religion. There is no need of criticizing the religious believers of other people as different beliefs are built on a diversified background. Religious diversity involves how different people worship, rites of passages, and social practices. People worship based on their faith and religious backgrounds.4 For instance, Christians strongly believe that Jesus Crist is the genuine way to meet God. Muslims and other religions have a diversified view of eternal life.

The author explains the truth claims made by different religions in society in the fifth chapter. The chapter covers doctrines involved in handling the truth in the world as much as religious diversity is concerned. There is an inter-religion conflict concerning which religion is true. Netland explains how this type of conflict can be resolved by defining the aspect of pluralism theory in the world. This chapter shows that pluralism theory identifies the religious experience of a given community in the world; the theory describes how values built on faith are taught in diversified religions, which strengthens the faith of a believer. Moral values are taught based on different religious standings and faith. Such morals also play a crucial role in shaping the culture of a given group of people.

Chapter six covers identify Christianity as a true religion in the world. Netland relies on the research done by Hans Kung on a true religion to conclude that those who believe in Jesus Christ are practicing a genuine religion. The research cannot separate from the fact that good values are derived from the positive elements and general ethical practices in society. The real-life of people in the society must reflect their religious practices to portray Jesus as their savior if they are Christians. Kung, in his research, established that the truth about a given religion could be assessed based on the normative of the doctrine being practiced in the community. With the perception of the spirits behind Jesus Christ theory and practices, Netland concludes that Christianity is the true religion built on facts. Other religions can use the method used by the author n his research to identify whether their beliefs are built on a true understanding of their faith.5

The awareness of religious diversity in Europe and North America is explained in chapter seven. Netland uses the views of different researchers such as Avia, Plantinga, and Peter Byrne to explain how the concept of diversity helped in globalizing religion. The chapter covers the concept of peer conflict has been explained by Byrne as the disagreements between truth claims on religion. Netland claims that Plantinga uses the reformed epistemology to explain reasons they believe in making rational faith. Furthermore, Alston thought on the perception of God leads o a conclusion that the perspectives of believers having faith in the supreme being are factual. The aspect of natural theology helps in understanding different ways in which God manifest to his people in the world. Lastly, in chapter eight, the aspect of Christianity in the 21st century is expounded and explained deeply. Based on my understanding, this is the best chapter since it provides guidelines on how to live a Christian life. The chapter provides different values that Christians should stay with, such as loving our neighbors as we love ourselves and God.

Critical Evaluation


The author presents a logical discussion about religion by explaining different faith in society. For instance, by reading the book, one can find different grounds on how Jesus is perceived by the world. The author explains that Jesus Christ was not accepted by everyone as the son of God. Regarding the current society, the arguments of the author are true since other religious believers such as Muslims do criticize Christianity. They do not recognize Jesus Christ as the son of God sent to save sinners.

The book provides contentious information about how religion is diversified in a modern and global society. The content availed by the book is rare as many authors do not talk about how religion has been diversified in the global world. The author of the book talks about the transition of change in religion by using Buddhis faith. Netland provides information on how the Buddhism faith changed the religious perspective of the people from the west. Through his literature work, it is evident that change in religion leads to how people believe differently concerning their state of faith.6

Another strength of the book is that it encourages people to accept other religions despite having critics of them. The book talks about the aspect of religion is true in society. I agree with the author that some of the claims made by different communities about religion can be considered true. No one is encouraged to criticize other religions are they are built on strong beliefs. Therefore, the book teaches me how to accept other people despite their religion. However, one should sieve the content they receive from a new religion since some of the values in one religion may conflict with another religion. Because all religions have truth claims, it is normal to have some critics of other religions in society.

In several chapters of the book, it is evident that religion can be diversified in modern society. We can see how one religion moved from India to Europe as a form of diversification. The adoption of western religions in different parts of the world, such as America, Africa, Some Asian countries, is a result of diversification in religion.7 I agree with the author that modernization and globalization have contributed to the spread of religion in different parts of the world. For example, people from one culture can learn and copy the religious beliefs of other cultures through the internet.


The book can be criticized in a way that the author stresses the fact that Christianity is the only true religion. Christianity shares ideas on how people can live in faith and trust that Jesus Christ is their personal savior.8 For instance, based on the full gospel of Mathew, the word of God is spread through evangelism, which helps make more disciples. Since most of the countries’ state that there is freedom of religion, there is a need for Netland to lean his arguments on Christianity alone. Other religions also believe that their religion is true. Therefore, no one should criticize other people’s religion. Concerning the modernized society, there should be no need of having religious differences by arguing on which religion is the best or not. Conflicts in society are minimized by accepting other people’s religions and not just focusing on one belief. The author could not have emphasized Christianity as being the only true religion.


Netland makes use of John Hick studies to enrich his literature on the aspect of pluralism in religion. Religion diversity is important to present the evidence of modernization and globalization. As the world becomes global, people should understand the different religious believes that surrounds them. Understanding other people religions will promote unity by minimizing critiques with relation to religion.9 We need to identify or roles in society as much as religion is concerned. I agree with Netland that it is our responsibility as Christians to have a strong understanding of our faith and spread the gospel to get more disciples. The same need to be applied in other religions such as Islamic, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Based on the knowledge gained from studying the book, I would recommend it to those who need to understand the aspects of diversification, modernization, and globalization of religion. To be specific, Christians have a task to play with regard to diversification and pluralism. They need to teach other people about the Christian faith and the good values expected from them for the sake of having more disciples in the world.


April, Wilfred. Culture and Identity. Google Books. BoD – Books on Demand, 2018.

Casanova, José. “The Karel Dobbelaere Lecture: Divergent Global Roads to Secularization and Religious Pluralism.” Social Compass 65, no. 2 (2018): 187–98.

Hassan, Riaz. “Religion, Modernization and the Islamic Ummah.” Journal of Al-Tamaddun 13, no. 1 (2018): 57–64.

Netland. “TEDS Faculty.” Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), 2018.

Netland, Harold. “Harolda. Netlandk (Unpublished Manuscript-Copyright Protected Baker Publishing Group),” 2015.


  1. Harold Netland, “Harolda. Netlandk (Unpublished Manuscript-Copyright Protected Baker Publishing Group),” 2015. Web.
  2. Netland,2015.
  3. Harold Netland, “H a ROL D a. N E T L a N D K (Unpublished Manuscript-Copyright Protected Baker Publishing Group),” 2015. Web.
  4. Harold Netland, “Harolda. Netlandk (Unpublished Manuscript-Copyright Protected Baker Publishing Group),” 2015. Web.
  5. Harold Netland, “Harolda. Netlandk (Unpublished Manuscript-Copyright Protected Baker Publishing Group),” 2015. Web.
  6. Netland, “Teds Faculty,” Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), 2018. Web.
  7. Wilfred April, Culture and Identity, Google Books (BoD – Books on Demand, 2018). Web.
  8. Riaz Hassan, “Religion, Modernization and the Islamic Ummah,” Journal of Al-Tamaddun 13, no. 1 (2018): 57–64. Web.
  9. José Casanova, “The Karel Dobbelaere Lecture: Divergent Global Roads to Secularization and Religious Pluralism,” Social Compass 65, no. 2 (2018): 187–98. Web.