In this first volume of
Brill Research Perspectives in Theology, the field of comparative theology is mapped with particular attention to the tradition associated with Francis Clooney but noting the global and wider context of theology in a comparative mode. There are four parts. In the first section the current field is mapped and its methodological and theological aspects are explored. The second part considers what the deconstruction of religion means for comparative theology. It also takes into consideration turns to lived and material religion. In the third part, issues of power, representation, and the subaltern are considered, including the place of feminist and queer theory in comparative theology. Finally, the contribution of philosophical hermeneutics is considered. The text notes key trends, develops original models of practice and method, and picks out and discusses critical issues within the field.
The nature and field of comparative theology is mapped with particular attention to the tradition associated with Francis Clooney but noting the global and wider context of theology in a comparative mode. There are four main parts. Firstly, mapping the current field and exploring its methodological and theological aspects, with particular attention to global and intercultural theologies, comparative religion, and the theology of religions. Secondly, considering what the deconstruction of religion means for comparative theology and how the term “religion” may be deployed and understood after this. It also takes into consideration turns to lived and material religion. Thirdly, issues of power, representation, and the subaltern are considered, including the place of feminist and queer theory in comparative theology. Finally, an original and constructive discussion on philosophical hermeneutics, as well as the way certain hermeneutical lenses can bring issues into focus for the comparative theologian, is offered. The text notes key trends, develops original models of practice and method, and picks out and discusses critical issues and lacunae within the field.
This publication by Muto Kazuo is a significant Christian contribution to the predominantly Buddhist “Kyoto School of Philosophy.” Muto proposes a philosophy of religion in order to overcome the claim for Christian exclusivity, as proposed by Karl Barth and others. On such a foundation, he investigates the possibilities for mutual understanding between Buddhism and Christianity. Thereby he engages in a critical exchange with the Kyoto School philosophers Nishida, Tanabe, and Nishitani. Throughout his discourse, Muto applies their method of logical argument (the “dialectic” of
soku) to the dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism. He thus opens up new perceptions of Christian faith in the Asian context and, together with his Buddhist teachers, challenges the modern Western dialectical method of reasoning.
The argument in this introductory chapter of this book triangulates around three sets of interlocking questions and methodological intuitions. The Buddhist-Christian dialogue contributes to certain developments in the science and philosophy of nature, including anthropology, by introducing pneumatological and relational categories into the discussion. The task is to expand the theology and science dialogue and the Buddhist-Christian dialogue into a trialogue between Christianity, Buddhism, and science. The three parts of the chapter clarifies the methodological challenges involved, first with regard to discussions in the science and philosophy of nature, and then about developments in the interfaith dialogue, before suggesting how a pneumatological approach to these matters has the potential to advance this exploration. The chapter covers a good deal of ground results in this being one of the longest chapters of the book, but this is needed in order to explicate the threefold chord around which the trialogue unfolds.
The results of the trialogue among Christianity, Buddhism, and science suggests that pneumatological categories can be informative both about how Christians understand the presence of God in the world and about how Buddhists comprehend reality as ultimately constituted and experienced. At the same time, science, religion and theology are interested in truth not in the abstract but as lived. This chapter sketches what might be called a Christian theology of the environment after Buddhism. After means not necessarily leaving behind, but being informed by crossing over and returning transformed. It proceeds by briefly summarizing Christian and Buddhist thinking on this topic respectively before attempting an exploratory synthesis. The task is to illuminate the practical and ethical dimensions of Christian, Buddhist and scientific perspectives on the natural world as mediated through the pneumatological categories. The goal is to sketch an environmental ethic that puts feet on the pneumatological imagination at work.
The theological task before us is the quest for a philosophy and theology of nature that engages and is informed by the dialogues with science and with Buddhist traditions. The methodological engine developed to drive this project is the Christian doctrine of the Spirit. This chapter begins with generic understandings of spirit in the religion-science literature, proceeds to more theological uses, including introduction of the efforts of Wolfhart Pannenberg, and then seeks to explore and critically asses the links proposed between pneumatology and contemporary field theory. The following considerations identify the emergence of specifically pneumatological categories and motifs in the theology and science dialogue.
The reasons for taking up the Genesis account include the pneumatological theme that is embedded therein, and this chapter further clarifies it. For now, note the following threefold purpose in rereading the creation narratives toward a pneumatological theology of nature. First, the chapter seeks to highlights elements in the biblical text that are overlooked on more traditional readings without doing violence to the text. Second, this rereading of Genesis 1 anticipates unleashing the pneumatological symbols hermeneutical power even while it enriches the understanding of God as spirit. Finally, it is expected that the results to be consistent with the most recent developments in the cosmological sciences even while it provides one with a matching theological vision accompanied by more expansive explanatory power especially with regard to the realms of ontology and metaphysics. The chapter proceeds from biblical interpretation to interaction with the science of emergence and with systems theory.
This chapter suggests that a pneumatological reading of Genesis 1 provides complementary perspectives on what the sciences of emergence and systems theory say about the nature of an evolutionary world. Building on the preceding discussion, three related paths of inquiry converge in the chapter. First, a pneumatological reading of divine presence in the creation of the world (Genesis 1) leads to further inquiry about divine presence in human createdness. Second, the question about the possibility of divine causation within a top-down model of causality has led to issues in the philosophy of mind which one hopes the discussion of human personhood and neuroscientific and psychological approaches to the mind-body relation can further illuminate. Finally, of course, the overarching quest explores the Christian-Buddhist-science trialogue by way of pneumatology should not be forgotten. The chapter proceeds from biblical interpretation through neuroscientific commentary toward synthesis.
The hypothesis in this chapter is that the Mahayana Buddhist understanding of the dynamically empty and self-emptying nature of all things serves a threefold function methodologically amenable to the purposes of this book. It resonates in various ways with and may potentially serve as a bridge to the categories of contemporary physics, especially quantum field theory and contemporary philosophy of mind. The chapter introduces the idea of shunyata and its role in the Buddhism-science dialogue. It begins with an overview of the Buddhist-science encounter, proceed to delve into some of the details of this encounter particularly as reflected in the current Mind and Life dialogues held by Tibetan Buddhists and Western scientists, and concludes with a basic sketch of the complementarities between shunyata and modern science especially as that has played out in the Kyoto School. This discussion lands at the heart of the contemporary Buddhist engagement with modern science.
This chapter explores certain streams of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition as it has wrestled with fundamental metaphysical and ontological questions. The hypothesis is that the doctrine of shunyata has indeed been suggestive and valuable for Buddhist perspectives on nature in ways which compromised neither its religious character nor the empirical mindedness of those Buddhists for whom this was a central category. In order to see this, the chapter retraces the steps from Nishitani back through his teacher Nishida and the Huayen School of the T’ang Dynasty to the ideas of Nagarjuna, who stands at the fount of the Madhyamaka tradition. In each case one can do no more than highlighting the major points pertinent to the inquiry. What emerges is the contours of a Mahayana Buddhist cosmology, which in turn sheds light on how Buddhists in this tradition see the nature of the world ultimately in terms of shunyata.