By Hugh Nicholson

In theological discourse, argues Hugh Nicholson, the political is going "all the best way down." One by no means reaches a bedrock point of politically impartial spiritual evidence, simply because all theological discourse - even the main chic, edifying, and "spiritual"--is shot via with polemical parts.

Liberal theologies, from the Christian success theology of the 19th century to the pluralist theology of the 20 th, have assumed that non secular writings reach religious fact and sublimity regardless of any polemical components they may comprise. via his research and comparability of the Christian mystical theologian Meister Eckhart and his Hindu counterpart ÍaSkara, Nicholson arrives at a truly varied end. Polemical parts may well in reality represent the artistic resource of the expressive strength of spiritual discourses. Wayne Proudfoot has argued that mystical discourses include a collection of principles that repel any determinate figuring out of the ineffable item or adventure they purport to explain. In Comparative Theology and the matter of non secular Rivalry, Nicholson means that this precept of negation is hooked up, possibly via a strategy of abstraction and sublimation, with the necessity to distinguish oneself from one's intra- and/or inter-religious adversaries.

Nicholson proposes a brand new version of comparative theology that acknowledges and confronts probably the most pressing cultural and political problems with our time: specifically, the "return of the political" within the kind of anti-secular and fundamentalist routine worldwide. This version recognizes the ineradicable nature of an oppositional size of spiritual discourse, whereas honoring or even advancing the liberal undertaking of curbing intolerance and prejudice within the sphere of religion.

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In our critique of Smith, we saw that pluralist theologies, in their well-intentioned effort to overcome exclusionary, polemical relations in the realm of religion, often yield a situation in which religious exclusion is merely masked, not eliminated. The difference between the two situations has to do with acknowledgment: the second refuses to acknowledge the act of exclusion that the first acknowledges openly. We can thus regard these two situations—which we might term the polemical and the hegemonic, respectively—as representing two modalities of the political.

Clooney 22 theology and the political Publications on interreligious dialogue and comparative theology invariably begin by emphasizing the unprecedented newness of the contemporary theological situation. We are reminded that men and women of different faiths, particularly in urban centers in North America and Europe, now interact with each other on a personal level. Religious pluralism has become, to use Paul Knitter’s apt phrase, “a newly experienced reality” for many in today’s world. Theology, accordingly, is only just beginning to respond to this new situation of religious pluralism.

The current marginality of the interreligious dimension of Christian theology is curious when one considers that an awareness of the claims of meaning and truth of non-Christian religions has been an integral part of the hermeneutical situation of Christian theology in Western cultural contexts—to say nothing of non-Western ones—for quite some time. It is difficult to avoid the suspicion that the marginalization of the interreligious dimension of Christian theological reflection is a consequence of the view that the political dimension of religion is adventitious to an authentic core of faith, the fundamental presupposition of what I have been calling the two-dimensional conception of religion.

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