Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Pluralism and the Being of the Between :: Philosophy Theology Religion Papers

Pluralism and the Being of the Between As a theologian by training and not a philosopher, I wish to explore the boundary line between the two so-called fields of study, utilizing metaphysical considerations to attempt to tackle what we would normally identify as purely theological issues, but which by their very nature beg boundary crossings. Theologians are notorious boundary crossers, often drawing upon philosophy both to generate the questions and cultivate the answers of their craft. My aim is to utilize metaphysics to explore the possibility of reorienting religious dialogue. Despite recent advances in dialogue, very real obstacles to real dialogue still remain, particularly for those who identify themselves as coming from "conservative" and "evangelical" sectors of religion who are more likely to view it as a threat to the integrity of their faith. Our world is one torn by violence and terror, at least partly motivated by religious dissent. Within this pressure-cooker of competing religious voices, there is a growin g need for theologians and to find creative ways of bringing even the most reactionary of traditionalists to the discussion table. Addressing this situation presents one of the most pressing challenges for today's theologians, and by fiat, today’s philosophers as well. The particular task of this essay is address this issue first with a criticism of the way in which the question of religious truth-claims is usually framed, moving to the development of a new framework for the discussion. I will first outline the traditional approach to this issue, pointing out how it accentuates the aforementioned problem. Secondly, I will reframe the problem using William Desmond's fourfold sense of being to formulate a stance toward religious dialogue that is more sensitive to evangelical needs. What I wish ultimately to accomplish is to provide a framework by which evangelicals can enter wholeheartedly into dialogue without a priori selling out what is most important about being evangelical. Three Stances Toward the Religious Other The standard typology used to address the issue of competing religious truth claims includes three approaches: exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism. This typology most directly addresses soteriological issues, or how or whether a person of another religious tradition can find salvation without converting to my religion. Briefly put, exclusivism is the belief that the truth of one religion exclude the claims of others such that only one religious community can find salvation. Inclusivism generally is the belief in the ultimate

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