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Shaking the Fundamentals

Religious Plurality and Ecumenical Movement

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Jan van Lin

The issue central to this study can be considered one of the most pressing facing the World Council of Churches today and in the decades to come, and is much greater than that which confronted the International Mission Council in the years 1910 to1938. The question answered in this study is: what significance can the theology of religions, as it developed between 1910 (Edinburgh) and 1938 (Tambaram), have for present-day endeavours to develop a more common understanding and vision within the ecumenical movement as regards the theological problem of religious plurality? This significance becomes clear in the conclusions and suggestions in the final chapter. One of these conclusions is that classic Trinitarian theology and Pneumatology will be incapable of drawing the theology of religions out of the present impasse as long as traditional Christological models continue to exist within them. A commemoration of the Edinburgh meeting will undoubtedly be organized in 2010; and in view of this commemoration Dr van Lin suggests considering the possibility of starting a process of reflection on the World Council of Churches' theology of religions, similar to those on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, and Towards the Common Expression of the Apostolic Faith Today. Given the fact that the study of religious plurality shakes the ecumenical movement to its foundations, within the foreseeable futures serious thought has to be given to placing the study of the theology of religions on the agenda of Faith and Order within the World Council of Churches.

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

Religious Experience Revisited

Expressing the Inexpressible?

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Edited by Thomas Hardtke, Ulrich Schmiedel and Tobias Tan

Religious Experience Revisited explores a dilemma which has haunted the study of religion since William James. Is religion rooted in experiences? Is religion rooted in expressions? How are experiences and expressions related? The contributors to this international and interdisciplinary compilation explore the possibilities and the impossibilities of a hermeneutics of religion. Combining theology and philosophy with biblical, cultural, historical and literary studies, they examine how religious experiences and religious expressions have been entangled in the past and in the present. These entanglements call for interdisciplinary conversations in which those who study experiences and those who study expressions can learn from each other in order to carve out important and instructive spaces for the study of religion.

The Absence of God

Exploring the Christian Tradition in a Situation of Mourning

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Piet Zuidgeest

This volume deals with the meaning of the Christian tradition to individuals, particularly in a situation of mourning.
The author formulates the relation of the tradition with the individual as a communicative (interpersonal and intrapersonal) conception of tradition. The meaning of the tradition is described in terms of a hermeneutic-narrative interpretation of classical texts. A practicum is presented as a form of guidance in mourning. The empirical exploration shows that the theme of the absence of God (presented in texts of the Psalms) has an important meaning. These texts give believers in grief the opportunity to cope with their loss.

Twenty-First Century Theologies of Religions

Retrospection and Future Prospects

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Edited by Elizabeth Harris, Paul Hedges and Shanthikumar Hettiarachchi

Within Christian theology, debates on the theology of religions have intensified over the last thirty or so years. This volume surveys the field and maps future directions in this expanding and important area of research. Both established experts and new voices address typological debates, comparative theology, multiple religious belonging or identity, and how dialogue between different religious traditions affects our understanding of these issues. Different perspectives and traditions are represented, and, while focusing upon debates in Christian theology, voices and perspectives from a range of religious traditions are also included. This volume is an essential tool for research students and established scholars working within the theology of religions and interreligious studies.

Contributors are: Graham Adams, Tony Bayfield, Abraham Velez de Cea, Gavin D’Costa, Reuven Firestone, Ray Gaston, Elizabeth Harris, Paul Hedges, Shanthikumar Hettiarachchi, Haifaa Jawad, Kristin Beise Kiblinger, Paul F. Knitter, Oddbjørn Leirvik, Marianne Moyaert, Mark Owen, Alan Race, Sigrid Rettenbacher, Perry Schmidt-Leukel, Leonard Swidler, Philip Whitehead, Janet Williams, Ulrich Winkler.

Naming and Thinking God in Europe Today

Theology in Global Dialogue

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Edited by Norbert Hintersteiner

Is there a new need and place for God-talk in Europe? The present volume both confirms this and opens up new questions for discussion. It shows how different traditions of naming and thinking God in Europe draw on various theoretical and philosophical foundations that are in competition with one another in many ways. Due to socio-cultural, historical and political divides between Eastern and Western Europe, these theological traditions often suffer from isolation and mutual misunderstanding. Can the inherent tensions and conflicts be understood more adequately?
While exploring a variety of approaches in Europe on the topic, several authors also ask: How can God be named and thought in Europe, which finds itself in the midst of complex crosscultural and interreligious processes - particularly as immigration increases and peoples of non-Christian faith traditions name and think God in ways that differ from and sometimes conflict with Europe's dominant religion(s) and secular culture? What function and impact will traditional God-talk have in a globalizing Europe as religions such as Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism move into the foreground?
This volume not only reveals the broad spectrum of its topic but also documents the vivid seeking undertaken by a new generation of European theologians and scholars of religion who openly engage the question of how to live and believe in Europe today, facing complex global challenges.

Isaak von Ninive und seine Kephalaia Gnostika

Die Pneumatologie und ihr Kontext

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Nestor Kavvadas

Isaac of Nineveh (7th century AD), or Isaac the Syrian, was, among all the Syriac writers, the one to exert the greatest influence outside the Syriac-speaking world, becoming a highly venerated Father of Byzantine Orthodox spirituality and theology. In Isaak von Nineve und seine Kephalaia Gnostika, Nestor Kavvadas first draws out the frictions between East Syrian episcopacy and the anchorite mystical movement as represented by Isaac, in search of the historical context of Isaac’s teaching on the working of the Holy Spirit on the monk. Then, he draws out of Isaac’s writings, and especially the Kephalaia Gnostika, the underlying structure of Isaac’s thought on the working of the Holy Spirit, with the tension here between the here and now and the ‘New World’ that can be momentarily anticipated in the present world.

Isaak von Ninive (7. Jh. n.Chr.), oder Isaak der Syrer, war unter allen Syrischen Autoren derjenige, der den größten Einfluss außerhalb der syrischsprachigen Welt ausübte, indem er ein besonders verehrter Vater der byzantinischen orthodoxen Spiritualität und Theologie wurde. In Isaak von Ninive und seine Kephalaia Gnostika zeichnet Nestor Kavvadas zuerst die Reibungen zwischen dem ostsyrischen Episkopat und der v.a. durch Isaak vertretenen, anachoretischen mystischen Strömung nach, auf der Suche nach dem historischen Kontext der Lehre Isaaks vom Wirken des Heiligen Geistes auf den Mönch. Dann rekonstruiert er aus den Schriften Isaaks, insbesondere aus den Kephalaia Gnostika, die Isaaks Denken vom Wirken des Heiligen Geistes zugrundeliegende Struktur; leitend ist hier die Spannung zwischen dem „hier und jetzt“ und der „Neuen Welt“, die in dieser Welt augenblicklich antizipiert werden kann.

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A. van de Beek, Eduardus van der Borght and Bernardus Vermeulen

The idea of freedom of religion was developed in Europe in the 16th and 17th century in the context of religious diversity as an alternative for religious wars. The concept requires reconsideration in the current globalized culture: religious plurality has increased as has the awareness of the religious potential for social cohesion and for sectarian division and violence. In this volume, legal experts, sociologists, theologians, and philosophers clarify the historical development of the concept, and analyze the present situation in various countries with religious tensions. They propose possible models and solutions, and discuss the fundamental question of whether the Western model of human rights with its separation of religion and state and freedom of religion can be conceived as universal.

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Michael R. Trice

Interest in recent years in reconciliation and conflict transformation has witnessed a great deal of attention to building a future through forgiveness and preventative measures in order to impede egregious wrongdoing. This effort for a reconciled future is absent reflection on the nature of cruelty. Cruelty has always been apparent in massive acts of wrongdoing and yet is repeatedly concealed in our assessment of the acts themselves. This book is a theologically honest and deep-structure exploration of cruelty in its personal, communal and institutional encounters in human life. Drawing on Nietzsche's challenge of cruelty to the western tradition, the work offers a comprehensive study of how cruelty undermines care, trust, respect and justice – all those elements of human reciprocity that mark our lives as interdependent beings. The work concludes with a tightly written Epilogue on interpreting the theological meaning and accessibility of reconciliation today.