Critical Assessment of the Absolute Truth Claims Warning Sign in When Religion Becomes Evil





Critical Assessment of the Absolute Truth Claims Warning Sign in “When Religion Becomes Evil


This paper posits to provide a Critical Assessment of the Absolute Truth Claims Warning Sign in “When Religion Becomes Evil. Charles Kimball, in “When Religion Becomes Evil”, not only provides illustrations of corruption inside religion, but also provides warning signs that would indicate a religion’s rally toward corruption. The author also presents insights for diverse religions to embrace, in order to flourish in the contemporary pluralistic world. Regrettably, his munificent motives are loaded with logical discrepancies, exegetical myths, and theological delusions. A brief synopsis of his, the Absolute Truth Claims Warning Sign would be pursued by a rejoinder. Kimball cautions on the foremost warning indications of fraud in religion that customarily leads to violence as well as wickedness in the world (Kimball 186). Kimball’s conclusion is that religious communities require establishing what he refers as an all-encompassing faith anchored in tradition, through devising innovative paradigms, innovative ways of understanding in addition to, practicing their particularity in the center of pluralism, while at the same time maintaining their custom’s authentic sources.


Humanity ought to be responsive when individuals or communities, demand that their understanding of a religious text must be regarded as the absolute truth.

A Concise Synopsis of the Absolute Truth Claims “Warning Sign”. According to Kimball, Absolute truth would refer to an inflexible approach to select truth claims that disregard or deny any verification of truth in any other traditions. Consequently, Kimball creates a dichotomy linking truth claims, and the absolute truth claims, the latter are considered as being hazardous (Kimball 44). Kimball does not conflict with the truth claims, although he advocates that when they develop into being dogmatic and rigid they transmute into “absolute” truth claims. Consequently, one ought to be aware of the intrinsic dangers of this variety of truth. Similar to the majority of pluralists, one may envisage that Kimball embraces a relativistic perception of truth; however, this is does not appear to be the case. Kimball does not hold that the truth claims in every religion are identical. In contrast, only the established religions that bear pragmatic value ought to be regarded as valid religions. Kimball is not a pure realist either, because he supposes that there are objective criterions for appraising value judgments inside religions, even though he does not provide any (25).

Kimball looks relatively at different religious causes that inspire violence. Kimball, reminiscent of Juergensmeyer, recognizes that religion is not the singular motivator or the irreproachable victim that triggers religious terrorism. Regardless of the innate human desire for religion, which Kimball affirms as essential to humanity’s sense of meaning, he nevertheless discerns that religion may become evil and inspire mankind into enacting evil (Juergensmeyer 62). Through a comparative approach, he identifies these fundamentals as underlying impetus for religious violence current in plural spiritual traditions. Kimball appends his argument of absolute truth claims to construal of scripture advocated by fundamentalist. Principally as apocalyptic literature is translated literally, it grants an appalling mandate for individuals to engage in contemporary violence (Hoffman 14).

Assessment of the Kimball’s Argument. It is regrettable, since the subject is too imperative to be handled so imprecisely. It is apparent that Kimball genuinely intends to examine and argue what it is in relation to religion that makes it susceptible to evil construal, but what makes his dignified aspiration a disappointment is his remorseful approach. Kimball, similar to numerous apologists earlier than him, is not capable to recognize that to confront the malevolence in religion, humanity must proclaim some spiritual “truths” as invalid. When, for instance, Christians declare that Jesus is the only Messiah is the single way for individuals to formulate atonement, they may either disagree with themselves or function in an unchristian manner, if they do not endeavor to plead their case other people in order that they may also have faith in Jesus. In any case, they would be rightfully accused of failing to take their own religion sincerely (Juergensmeyer 25).

So as to avoid malicious confrontations with other religions, Christians are required to be open to the likelihood that they are in the wrong, that individuals may function increasingly well exclusive of Jesus. However, that would be an unorthodox act for a genuine Christian. In the opinion of this paper, the reflection of Kimball on every one of the five warning signs is fundamentally superficial; hence, they are worth questioning. Similar to Kimball, it may be important to endeavor to find constructive alternatives to the warning precursors. Religion plays an essential part in a number of people’s lives, therefore that makes its threats the concern for everybody. It is patently obvious that religions may make declarations of absolute truth. At any rate, this is the scenario in the conventional traditions. Spiritual humanism is a comparatively new phenomenon that is only acknowledged in the Jewish society as a way for the Jewish community to uphold their identity while discarding the covenant among God and Abraham (32).

However, Kimball does not refute that every religion alleges to embrace the truths in relation to divinity. On the other hand, he emphasize that, it is not necessary to universalize these allegations, since a critical and moderate approach to truth is achievable. At the outset, it may appear as an appropriate concept, but following reflection on what it intended, it may be found to be illogical. There is some unconformity to the whole concept of truth-value, as Christians claim that Jesus is deity they make a declaration that is either factual or false. However, when relativists allege that Jesus is deity to some communities at times, they merely make an observation that communities have dissimilar opinions in relation to Jesus (Kimball 52). This may as well mean that, this solution to the impasse of absolute truth claims may not be sound, since it is not appropriate to offer a substitute answer to a question by reinstating the question.


It is uncomplicated to be in agreement with Kimball when he cautions on uncritical and selective reading of religious texts. This is the prevalent grounds for tension, since small discrepancies in understanding have frequently led to dramatic clashes in religious communities. The fact that the majority of individuals read religious texts, including the Bible, in translation it does not facilitate consistency on what is the true meaning of a certain paragraph. It follows that, religious texts are read in extremely different ways considering the deficient translations, the time span since the texts were documented, in addition to, the cultural context is entirely disparate. However, this paper concurs with Kimball in that he proposes that humanity ought to be aware when somebody demands that their understanding of a religious text must be regarded as the absolute truth. Notwithstanding several positive aspects found in the book, it is important to recognize the fundamental discrepancies between religions, in addition to, a perceptive of the nature of truth. Although his intentions are commendable, Kimball fails to offer a viable option for contemporary religious reflection.

Works Cited

Hoffman, B. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia U.P. 2000. Print.

Kimball, C. When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs. New York: HarSan Francisco. 2002. Print.

Juergensmeyer, M. The Latest Cold War? Spiritual Nationalism Meets the Secular State. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2000. Print.