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Edited by James R. Lewis

The Handbook of Scientology brings together a collection of fresh studies of the most persistently controversial of all contemporary New Religions. In recent years, increasing scholarly attention has been directed at the Church of Scientology, resulting in a small tsunami of new scholarship. We have finally reached a point in time where a book on Scientology need not restrict itself to basics. Thus, for example, the historical chapters in the present volume are not really aimed at providing elementary facts on Scientology’s background, but, rather, focus on understanding how the Church of Scientology developed over the years. In short, the Handbook of Scientology will provide a wealth of new information on a topic that one might otherwise have thought exhausted.

Handbook of Global Contemporary Christianity

Themes and Developments in Culture, Politics, and Society

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Edited by Stephen J. Hunt

The Handbook of Global Contemporary Christianity: Themes and Developments in Culture, Politics, and Society maps the transformations, as well as the continuities, of the largest of the major religions - engaging with the critical global issues which relate to the faith in a fast changing world. International experts in the area offer contributions focusing on global movements; regional trends and developments; Christianity, the state, politics and polity; and Christianity and social diversity. Collectively the contributors provide a comprehensive treatment of health of the religion as Christianity enters its third millennium in existence and details the challenges and dilemmas facing its various expressions, both old and new. The volume is a companion to the Handbook of Contemporary Global Christianity: Movements, Institutions, and Allegiance.

Hindu-Christian Dialogue

Theological Soundings and Perspectives

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Mariasusai Dhavamony

Dialogue is an integral part of the mission of the Christian church. The immensity of the ocean of Hindu doctrine and thought presents a significant obstacle to Christians who have been invited by the Roman Catholic Church to “scrutinize the divine Mystery” present in other religions. Many, fascinated by Hindu mysticism, confuse permanent Hindu beliefs with certain current Western religious movements. India’s quest for the divine embodies multiple forms. Its millennia-old methods of meditation and varieties of asceticism often confuse those who are less inclined to experience of an inner spiritual nature. This book attempts to address some of these difficulties and questions. It is the author’s belief that in the Hindu-Christian encounter the Christian believer will also rediscover the originality and newness of the Christian revelation, viz. the intervention of God in the history of salvation whereby God reveals his salvific love in Jesus Christ. Possessing expert knowledge of both Hinduism and Christianity, the author approaches the Hindu-Christian dialogue with sympathy and discernment.

Sharing Lights on the Way to God

Muslim-Christian Dialogue and Theology in the Context of Abrahamic Partnership

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Pim Valkenberg

This book seeks to give form to a theology that hyphenates two traditions that have not only been in constant conflict during most of their historical encounters but are also presented as opposite blocks in the threatening ‘clash of civilizations’ at the beginning of the third millennium: Islam and Christianity. Based on experiences of dialogue between the three Abrahamic faiths, this book analyzes historical and contemporary processes of interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims in order to arrive at a concept of dialogue as ‘mutual emulation.’ It shows how, in their theologies of religious others, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have based their images of others on their self-images. This characteristic makes traditional theologies of religion quite unsuitable for interreligious dialogue. Consequently, the author of this book develops a model in which comparative theology and interreligious dialogue are connected by studying – as a Christian theologian – the theological and spiritual sources of his Muslim dialogue partners. These exercises in comparative Muslim-Christian theology comprise both the medieval (Aquinas, al-Ghazali, Rumi) and the modern periods (Said Nursi, Fethullah Gülen, Tariq Ramadan). An interlude on Teresa of Avila’s poem Nada te turbe shows how Christians may recover important insights from their own tradition by reading these Muslim theological and spiritual sources.

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Edited by Chibueze C. Udeani, Friedrich Reiterer and Klaus Zapotoczky

Religion is today mainly present in the consciousness of people through keywords like fundamentalism, global conflict or violence. But as what is religion understood and how does it affect the society are questions that need to be examined separately. The contributions in this volume will examine the sub-questions that pose themselves in this light: 1) What influence does religion exercise on our social life forms? 2) What are the religious societal prerequisites? And how is visible religion affected by these? 3) How do these questions present themselves both externally and internally in the contemporary perception?

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Edited by Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein

Few religious currents have been as influential as the Theosophical. Yet few currents have been so under-researched, and the Brill Handbook of the Theosophical Current thus represents pioneering research. A first section surveys the main people and events involved in the Theosophical Society from its inception to today, and outlines the Theosophical worldview. A second, substantial section covers most significant religions to emerge in the wake of the Theosophical Society - Anthroposophy, the Point Loma community, the I AM religious activity, the Summit Lighthouse Movement, the New Age, theosophical UFO religions, and numerous others. Finally, the interaction of the Theosophical current with contemporary culture - including gender relations, art, popular fiction, historiography, and science - are discussed at length.

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Edited by Susanne Rupp and Tobias Döring

Communities have often shaped themselves around cultural spaces set apart and declared sacred. For this purpose, churches, priests or scholars no less than writers frequently participate in giving sacred figures a local habitation and, sometimes, voice or name. But whatever sites, rites, images or narratives have thus been constructed, they also raise some complex questions: how can the sacred be presented and yet guarded, claimed yet concealed, staged in public and at the same time kept exclusive?
Such questions are pursued here in a variety of English texts historically employed to manifest and manage versions of the sacred. But since their performances inhabit social space, this often functions as a theatrical arena which is also used to stage modes of dissent, difference, sacrifice and sacrilege. In this way, all aspects of social life – the family, the nation, the idea of kingship, gender identities, courtly ideals, love making or smoking – may become sacralized and buttress claims for power by recourse to a repertoire of religious symbolic forms.
Through critical readings of central texts and authors – such as Sir Gawain, Foxe, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, or Vaughan – as well as less canonical examples – the Croxton play, Buchanan, Lanyer, Wroth, or the tobacco pamphlets – the twelve contributions all engage with the crucial question how, and to what end, performances of the sacred affect, or effect, cultural transformation.

One Gospel – Many Cultures

Case Studies and Reflections on Cross-Cultural Theology

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Edited by Mercy Amba Oduyoye and Hendrik M. Vroom

The gospel is directed to people in the concreteness of their lives. For this reason the understanding of the gospel is always of a contextual nature, i.e., is at all times related to the situations in which people live and is therefore influenced by various cultures. The one gospel is understood in and shaped by many cultures. In One Gospel—Many Cultures authors from various parts of the world describe examples of such contextual understandings of the gospel message.
The volume contains accounts of Jesus as rice in a Korean and as guru in a South-Indian setting; churches in secular and individualistic societies on both sides of the Atlantic struggling to understand the gospel anew; Christians in East Asian megalopolises trying to inculturate faith in their local cultures; poverty stricken people in massive urban areas in Latin America who cannot read eating fragments of the Psalms; women in African countries suffering poverty and threatened by the spread of diseases, raising the question whether the churches should stick to monogamy or make room for polygamy? These examples entail serious questions for the churches. In what does the unity of the worldwide church consist and how strong is its witness if various contexts yield different interpretations of the gospel? Is cross-cultural understanding in the church possible?
Is the World's Day of Women's Prayer perhaps a better example of cross-cultural sharing and unity, women listening to women from parts of the world other than their own, praying together, sharing songs and, if needed, money, and thereby demonstrating one faith, one gospel, one God. And to take another completely different case, was apartheid not a cruel form of contextualization, a parody of the gospel of liberation, a negation of the gospel that calls for and makes possible the breaking down of existing walls of separation between people of different races, colours, nations and genders? The contributors to the work in hand do not merely present case studies of attempts to bring the gospel into rapport with diverse cultural and human situations but also discuss the pro's and con's of the examples of contextualization they describe.
The papers included in the present work are the fruit of a study project which forms part of the larger long-standing and ongoing program of theological reflection undertaken by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. With its fascinating cases studies and thorough discussions of the problems and issues involved in contextualization, this volume will be recognized as an important textbook for academic courses in intercultural theology, ecumenical studies and theological hermeneutics.
Contributors: Marcella Althaus-Reid, Russell Botman, Heup Young Kim, Christine Lienemann-Perrin, Mercy Amba Oduyoye, Joseph Small, M. Thomas Thangaraj, Hendrik M. Vroom, and Choo-Lak Yeow

Religions View Religions

Explorations in Pursuit of Understanding

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Edited by Jerald D. Gort, Henry Jansen and Hendrik M. Vroom

Because religion is so central to the lives and experience of the vast majority of people throughout the world, it figures very prominently in a variety of ways in interhuman relations. Unfortunately, ‘religion’ often appears to be one of the potent sources of mistrust, discord and strife between and among individuals, groups and cultures. What frequently lies at the root of such suspicion and dissension is general ignorance concerning the religious other, a lack of knowledge about his or her beliefs, aspirations and views of the good and morally honorable life. And even if people have some factual knowledge about other religions, they regularly display little understanding of them and their adherents. Learning both to know and understand people of other faiths and their religions is absolutely requisite to the realization of paradigms of coherent and intelligent ‘convivance,’ that is, living together in sensible, peaceable and cooperative harmony.
An effective agency for fostering such knowledge and understanding is the discipline of theology of religions, which examines how religions have and ought to view other religions. And it is particularly the practice of comparative theology of religions which bears the most promise in this regard. The present symposium consists of precisely this kind of comparative exercise and may be viewed as an important contribution to the development of a new project which endeavors to enlarge the horizon and broaden the focus and reflection of theology of religions as that has been gradually developed during the last few decades, a new enterprise, in other words, which seeks to universalize and mutualize theology-of-religions discourse.
One of the important things this volume shows is that the views religions have of other religions differ from one another in very substantial ways, which is explained by the fact that they derive from diverging paradigms of faith, belief and ritual and specific cultural and social contexts. This textbook demonstrates how strongly different Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto and Confucian views are from those of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, which latter in turn also exhibit considerable differences among themselves. These differences are greater than people immersed in their own cultures often realize or expect. It is becoming ever more clear that ignorance of or disinclination to acknowledge or refusal to accept these real differences constitute major root causes of serious conflicts in the world.
The essays in this book, written by representatives of the major world religions, offer descriptive and/or prescriptive appraisals of other religions in general or one other religion in particular from the perspective of the religion of the author concerned. It is hoped that this unique exercise in intercultural theology of religions will generate insights and new forms of understanding which can be used by religious leaders and other educators to help correct the disposition toward religious haughtiness, insularity and communalism and the dangerous leanings toward interreligious suspicion, antipathy and animosity which are all too often evident in our contemporary societies.

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Daniel Dubuisson

In the history of Western culture, theology, and science, a strict dichotomy exists between religion and magic: religion as the intellectually and morally superior one – magic as the primitive, superstitious, demonic other.
The present work aims to break with this tradition, and traces the origin of this dichotomy as well as its many purposes. Whose powers does it serve? Which interests and ideological stakes does it conceal?
Moreover, the author proposes a new epistemological framework for the study of magisms as well as their “rehumanisation”, and argues for a rehabilitation of their studies.