uno itinere non potest perveniri ad tam grande secretum -- Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 384 C.E.

Symmachus Quotation

"By one journey it is not possible to arrive at so great a mystery." The quote is from Relatio 3 of Symmachus, prefect of Rome in the late 4th century and a leading pagan aristocrat of the time, who in a letter urging the restoration of the altar of Victory in the senate house, argues for a nonexclusive, pluralistic understanding of religion: "It is appropriate that whatever all worship, it be considered one. We espy the same stars, there is a common sky, the same earth envelops us. What difference is there by what knowledge each one seeks out the truth?"


To be sure, all religions are not one. It is for this reason I identify as a Christian pluralist, not a universalist. But the United States is a pluralistic society, and indeed the freedoms we enjoy depend on this -- because at the heart of any given freedom is the freedom of conscience, and freedom of conscience is inextricably linked to pluralism. There cannot be one without the other. It is for this reason that I have, since my conversion from social conservatism some 15 years ago, argued for socially liberal public policy.