Interreligious Dialogue

1 January 2017

Dialogue with respect to theological pluralism Statistics show that most of the world’s population is affiliated with some type of religion, with Christianity and Islam encompassing slightly over 50% of the population. Though interreligious dialogue is beneficial in gaining a better understanding of another’s religion, is it possible to hold one’s religion as being the absolute truth while engaging in an open interreligious dialogue with another religion?

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Many spiritual people will tend to be theological exclusivists, because a lot of the religions are divided and differ in many ways from one another, but they must accept the values and beliefs of other people if they are to remain truly faithful to the conviction of their traditions. Interreligious dialogue in a broad sense is being in communication with someone of a different religion to increase the understanding of one’s own religion or tradition as well as others. Since half of the world’s population is either Christian or Muslim, we will take a look into the differences these religions shares.

One of the main issues is developed in Klostermaiers book, In the Paradise of Krishna. It exemplifies some of the differences religions tend to hold, such as the discussion between Muslims and Christians on where the role of Jesus stands in Senestant 2 connection to God. Muslims agree that Jesus was an important figure and served a purpose as a great teacher of righteousness, but fail to see his true connection with God the Father. They claim that he is only a prophet sent by God but not equal to God.

The position Klostermaier takes on Jesus, or ‘Son of Man’, is that he is the movement towards God in every being. He is what ultimately allows for us to have a relationship with God. The Son of Man only makes use of two basic distinctions: My Father on the one side — everything else on the other. He doesn’t judge people based off of other people’s judgment or the rules set by man, rather he judges people based on their relation to the Father. Klostermaier also wants us to recognize that Christ is not an ‘avatara’.

There were many people before Jesus’ time who were sent on this earth to save God’s people from particular calamities that were caused by mankind. Those people were very important because they were chosen by God to do his will. Noah’s obedience to God’s command to salvage humanity by building an arc to withstand the flood or Moses standing up to the Pharaoh and allowing his people to be set free are just a few instances of God’s sons who assisted in salvation. Saying Jesus is the ‘Only Son of God’ is putting a limitation on the abilities of God and not recognizing his full power.

It also confuses the Muslim sect because of their belief that God sent many people throughout history who were a source of deliverance from any disaster that was occurring at the time. They are referred to as prophets therefore Jesus must also be a prophet and nothing more. Instead, he wants us to look at Christ as the movement to God Senestant 3 that will grant us ultimate salvation. He is the deciding factor that will determine whether we will enjoy eternity in the promise land or feel the wrath of God as we torment in hell.

A second main issue in the book is dialoguing on a daily basis with familiar and unfamiliar religions. Before dialoguing with other people, it’s crucial to have a great understanding on your own religion. It’s very important to study and learn what your beliefs are founded upon, although it’s very time consuming and doesn’t aid in spiritual progress. While it is good to study and familiarize yourself with the religion you are currently practicing, it is also beneficial to converse with others about your religion as well.

People tend to only see what’s on the surface because they are uneducated and misguided on certain areas and fail in attempting to delve deeper to find the true meaning of things. As you enter into dialogue with someone of an opposing religion, you must be very open-minded and unbiased to allow each other to learn things that aren’t obvious at first glance. It allows for a different perspective of who you think you are and helps you identify if you’re living and acting according to your beliefs. It’s also important to have inner dialogue with yourself.

Meditating and reflecting on the impact our religion have in our lives and in our hearts. Is the essence of Hinduism and Christianity or any other religion we profess just words coming out of our mouths or does it directly impact our lives and allows us to live in peace and unity? These are the questions we must ask ourselves in helping to determine if we’re living in fallacy and wasting our time, or if we’re in accordance to Senestant 4 our beliefs. A starving old Brahmin talked about four kinds of people praying: “some pray that God should preserve their wealth, others that God should give them wealth.

Those who asked for heavens were better; but those who neither had nor wanted riches and did not ask for heaven, but only wished to serve God for his own sake, they were the best. ”(Klostermaier 95) Those people who only wished to serve God know of his magnificence and splendor and being connected to that will enhance their spirituality and respect for man and not traditions. This allows anyone from any religion to become like brothers and sisters. “If we insisted on our theologies – you as a Christian, I as a Hindu – we should be fighting each other.

We have found one another because we probed more deeply, towards spirituality. ”(Klostermaier 99) A third issue in the book is the idea of three persons in one God. Many established religions view God as being absolute and indescribable because of how minute we are compared to God. Other religions are able to grasp the physical nature of God and give him attributes and qualities which can only be possible if this God was visible. However, Christians hold the position that God is both of these things and can go between each form when necessary. This is seen by God revealing himself through his son Jesus Christ.

Through him we’re able to become attached and have understanding of where our beliefs lie. When other religions look at Christianity, they view it as a religion without any real philosophy and that “it has taken its teachings from everywhere and justifies them by claiming to possess the only true revelation, to Senestant 5 dispense the only salvation” (Klostermaier 29). Therefore they see it as being immature when relating to religion. They even go as far as saying they’re uneducated on their religion therefore they can’t hold intelligent conversations and go in depth on the various issues that involve religion.

I found this to be very true because as a Christian myself, I attempted to discuss religion with one of my atheist friends. After a few minutes went by, I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought. It led me to examining what I believed in and why. Towards the end of the conversation, I grew more respect for people who weren’t adapted to a particular religion and understood there’s a lot that can be learned from them. It showed me the unimportance of the different sects of religion and only claiming to a religion without close examination of it will lead to immaturity and idiocy.

As a Sikh professor in Klostermaier’s book says, “Religion cannot be proved by logic – religion is inner experience. ”(Klostermaier 31) This inner experience is affirmed through meditation as well as the various acts of people around you whom you have no association with. When looking at theological exclusivism versus pluralism, it is confusing as to whether they are relevant in deciding whether to converse with people of different religions. Looking only at theological exclusivism, it is the theological position that holds to the finality of the Christian faith in Christ.

The finality of Christ means that there is no salvation outside the Christian faith. By definition, exclusivism seems to be self-contradictory. It contains the fact that Senestant 6 human beings are limited in the amount of knowledge they have and are unable to understand the infinite(God) to its fullness. However, followers of this concept are not restricted in believing that they are the only people that have the ability to be connected to God. They look at people of other religions as being infidels, not actually having a religious belief.

They also claim to be the ones most devoted to God, when in all actuality; they are just followers of religious doctrine, created by man. Though the Bible was created by man, it was said to be created through spiritual guidance of the Most High. Every religious person who looks at the Bible sees it as being full of truth, which by nature is exclusivist. So everyone who follows the rules and guidelines the Bible have set in place is partially exclusivist. Since the Bible is considered as be exclusivist, it is only right to dwell on some of teachings it talks about.

It talks about a God, who is full of mercy and compassion, one who loves all of his children and continues to love them through all the sins they have committed and continue to commit. It is a God that loved us so much that, “he gave his one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ” (Stoughton 897) A God of this nature does not sound like a God that will only come to save those who believe in Christ. Although that was his only ‘begotten son’, they are many people who do not have the opportunity to believe in such a religion. This can be caused by the way the person was rought up, or where the person was brought up, in which case Christianity was not the religion of choice. They are also instances of when someone dies prematurely and does not Senestant 7 have the opportunity to have a true relationship with Christ Jesus. These people shouldn’t be and are not exempt from the sanctifying grace of God. This is a God who created all of mankind in his image and likeness, so that everyone will have the ability to be saved. “God must be seen at the center of religions / The pluralistic contention is that all religions are fundamentally the same though superficially different. (Hick 42) The pluralist believes that the world religions are true and equally valid in their communication of the truth about God, the world, and salvation. This is also backed by the Larousse Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions, which says that other religions possess “validity and truth in their own right / These religions are understood as different cultural reflections or expressions of the same divine reality and as such constitute legitimate ways to God” (Larousse 437). This seems to make the most logical sense because we are not sole-bearers of the truth.

We were only created to praise and give worship to the Almighty. Since this is true, we will all have our own understanding and interpretations about who God is, what our place is in this world and why we were created, and the steps in receiving salvation. At the core of our beliefs we hold the same truths, but slightly differ in minor details. Some examples are the day in which we should attend mass or how often we should pray. Yes these things are important and are what gives meaning to our life, but God only requires us to recognize who he is and the impact he has in our lives. By whatsoever way men worship Me, even so do I accept them; for, in all ways, O Partha, men walk in My path. ” Senestant 8 (Bhagavad-Gita 4. 11) God is evident in all religions that have him in its center. As long as his followers stay true to the doctrine their religion provides, God will have favor on them. Many of the religions out there share these commonalities so they should be treated with equality when evaluating their doctrine with respect to God. In the sense of interreligious dialogue, the idea of being a theological exclusivist is irrelevant.

It does not bring anything meaningful to the table when people of two different religions come together. Rather it would just be hurtful banter between the opposing religions and nothing worthwhile will be accomplished. Since by definition, an exclusivist can only view their religion and belief as being the only one which holds the absolute truth, to deviate from this by indulging in conversations that can potential alter that belief is dangerous and when placed in a position like that, mockery will be imminent. The only way the strengthen interreligious dialogue is through a pluralist outlook.

They both go hand in hand, in that a pluralist will be very open to dialogue. This will increase their knowledge of not only the other person’s religion but also one’s own, since they both stem from the same root. Senestant 9 Works Cited 1)Goring, Rosemary, Frank Whaling, John Marshall, and David Brogan. Larousse Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions. Edinburgh: Larousse, 1994. Print. 2)Lopresti, Matthew. “INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND RELIGIOUS PLURALISM: A Philosophical Critique of Pope Benedict XVI and the Fall of Religious Absolutism (Matthew LoPresti) – Academia. edu. ” Hawaii Pacific University – Academia. du. Hawaii Pacific University. Web. 14 Dec. 2011. . 3)Marbaniang, Domenic. “Theology Of Religions: Pluralism, Inclusivism, Exclusivism « Earthpages. org. ” Earthpages. org. Web. 14 Dec. 2011. . 4)Bhagavadgita. Lewiston, N. Y. [u. a. : Edwin Mellen Pr. , 2010. Print. 5)Klostermaier, Klaus, and Antonia Fonseca. In the Paradise of Krishna: Hindu and Christian Seekers. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1969. Print. 6)Hick, John. God and the Universe of Faiths : Essays in the Philosophy of Religion. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988. Print. 7)NIV Bible. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997. Print.

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