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Sharing Lights on the Way to God

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


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.

Religions View Religions

Explorations in Pursuit of Understanding


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.

"I am just a Sukuma"

Globalization and Identity Construction in Northwest Tanzania


Frans Wijsen and Ralph Tanner

Ampere A. Tseng

Sūtra (地藏菩薩本愿經), and the Mahayana Brahmajāla Sūtra . More details on these vegetarian pledges can be found in a study presented by Tseng (2017: 99, 100). Moreover, various vegetarian feasts are conducted at a wide range of Buddhist celebrations, dharma assemblies, and other occasions. These include


Hisakazu Inagaki and J. Nelson Jennings

Philosophical Theology and East-West Dialogue is a unique philosophical and theological analysis of certain key interactions between Eastern and Western thinkers. The book on the one hand contrasts general traits of Eastern, Buddhist thought and Western, Greek thought. However, in doing so it focuses on influential philosophers and theologians who manifest particular instances of wider issues. The result is a careful examination of basic questions that offers both broad implications and concrete specificity in its approach.
The book itself is an instance of East-West dialogue. Independently of each other both authors had previously engaged in serious cross-cultural studies. The Japanese Inagaki had researched Western science and philosophy, then written in Japanese comparative studies of Japanese thought. The North American Jennings had researched Japanese theology. They brought these backgrounds together, dialoguing with each other until the present study emerged.
Several creative Japanese thinkers, as well as important Westerners, are taken up. The study follows the lead of many Eastern impulses, but it also critically utilizes Western methods. Contemporary thinking on religious plurality is carefully examined. This new study is a must for those interested in philosophy and theology in general, and East-West interaction in particular.


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


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

'Mission is a must'

Intercultural theology and the mission of the Church


Edited by Frans Wijsen and Peter J.A. Nissen

Russell C. Powell

which, if the journey is made well, will be surpassed on the endless path toward unattained but attainable selves. Hence Emerson’s moralism, which Cavell considers a species of perfectionism, “requires that we become ashamed in a particular way of ourselves, of our present stance” (1990: 16), Cavell

Cross-Cultural Comparisons between the Mughal Tomb Garden of Taj Mahal in Agra (India) and the Dry Landscape Garden of the Ryoan-Ji Zen Monastery in Kyoto (Japan)

An Analysis of Cultural and Religious Layers of Meaning in Two Cases of Classical Garden Landscape Architecture

Lourens Minnema

nomads, emphasized this particular trait of the nomadic spirit and made of Nature in Islam a vast garden in which the handiwork of the invisible gardener is ever present.” The Qurʾan often calls nature a ‘book of nature’ that is to be read as full of ‘verses’ or ‘signs’ (the same word ayat ), of