Hugh Nicholson's Comparative theology and the problem of religious rivalry PDF

By Hugh Nicholson

ISBN-10: 019977286X

ISBN-13: 9780199772865

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

Liberal theologies, from the Christian achievement theology of the 19th century to the pluralist theology of the 20th, have assumed that spiritual writings reach non secular fact and sublimity regardless of any polemical components they may include. via his research and comparability of the Christian mystical theologian Meister Eckhart and his Hindu counterpart ÍaSkara, Nicholson arrives at a really various end. Polemical components may perhaps in truth represent the inventive resource of the expressive strength of non secular discourses. Wayne Proudfoot has argued that mystical discourses include a suite of ideas 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 attached, might be via a means 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 some of the most pressing cultural and political problems with our time: particularly, the "return of the political" within the type of anti-secular and fundamentalist events around the globe. This version recognizes the ineradicable nature of an oppositional size of non secular discourse, whereas honoring or even advancing the liberal undertaking of curbing intolerance and prejudice within the sphere of religion.

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29 This thesis regarding the inescapability of the political forms the basis of Schmitt’s critique of liberalism. For Schmitt, the defining feature of liberal thought is its attempt to neutralize and “depoliticize” social relations. Schmitt reads the history of Western modernity as a series of unsuccessful attempts to realize a conflict-free region of human interaction. 32 Schmitt’s thesis regarding the inescapability of the political brings the problematic at the heart of pluralist theologies clearly into focus.

45 But it does call into question the Enlightenment’s strategy for realizing that aim, namely, that of isolating a putative essence of religion from its political excrescences. Applying some of the basic insights of political theorists like William Connolly and Chantal Mouffe who pursue a postmodern critique of classic liberalism in the context of a commitment to a pluralistic and democratic society,46 I propose a change in strategy that reconciles an acknowledgment of the ineluctability of “us” versus “them” contrasts in the sphere of religion with a commitment to the principles of religious pluralism and interreligious respect.

Comparative theology challenges this tendency of scholars of religion to project a theological other, a tendency which, paradoxically, has blinded the discipline of comparative religion to its own normative—and often implicitly theological— presuppositions. 54 It is by clearly recognizing and developing comparison as a method of “critical self-consciousness,” I argue, that the new comparative theology can avoid the pitfalls of its late nineteenth-century namesake. Chapter 2 extends the foregoing analysis of the history of interreligious theology to the modern theological tradition as a whole.

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Comparative theology and the problem of religious rivalry by Hugh Nicholson


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