Interreligious Dialogue with respect to theological pluralism
Statistics show that most of the world’s population is affiliated with some type of religion, with Christianity and Islam encompassing slightly over 50% of the population. Though interreligious dialogue is beneficial in gaining a better understanding of another’s religion, is it possible to hold one’s religion as being the absolute truth while engaging in an open interreligious dialogue with another religion? Many spiritual people will tend to be theological exclusivists, because a lot of the religions are divided and differ in many ways from one another, but they must accept the values and beliefs of other people if they are to remain truly faithful to the conviction of their traditions. Interreligious dialogue in a broad sense is being in communication with someone of a different religion to increase the understanding of one’s own religion or tradition as well as others. Since half of the world’s population is either Christian or Muslim, we will take a look into the differences these religions shares. One of the main issues is developed in Klostermaiers book, In the Paradise of Krishna. It exemplifies some of the differences religions tend to hold, such as the discussion between Muslims and Christians on where the role of Jesus stands in Senestant 2
connection to God. Muslims agree that Jesus was an important figure and served a purpose as a great teacher of righteousness, but fail to see his true connection with God the Father. They claim that he is only a prophet sent by God but not equal to God. The position Klostermaier takes on Jesus, or ‘Son of Man’, is that he is the movement towards God in every being. He is what ultimately allows for us to have a relationship with God. The Son of Man only makes use of two basic distinctions: My Father on the one side --- everything else on the other. He doesn’t judge people based off of other people’s judgment or the rules set by man, rather he judges people based on their relation to the Father. Klostermaier also wants us to recognize that Christ is not an ‘avatara’. There were many people before Jesus’ time who were sent on this earth to save God’s people from particular calamities that were caused by mankind. Those people were very important because they were chosen by God to do his will. Noah’s obedience to God’s command to salvage humanity by building an arc to withstand the flood or Moses standing up to the Pharaoh and allowing his people to be set free are just a few instances of God’s sons who assisted in salvation. Saying Jesus is the ‘Only Son of God’ is putting a limitation on the abilities of God and not recognizing his full power. It also confuses the Muslim sect because of their belief that God sent many people throughout history who were a source of deliverance from any disaster that was occurring at the time. They are referred to as prophets therefore Jesus must also be a prophet and nothing more. Instead, he wants us to look at Christ as the movement to God Senestant 3
that will grant us ultimate salvation. He is the deciding factor that will determine whether we will enjoy eternity in the promise land or feel the wrath of God as we torment in hell. A second main issue in the book is dialoguing on a daily basis with familiar and unfamiliar religions. Before dialoguing with other people, it’s crucial to have a great understanding on your own religion. It’s very important to study and learn what your beliefs are founded upon, although it’s very time consuming and doesn’t aid in spiritual progress. While it is good to study and familiarize yourself with the religion you are currently practicing, it is also beneficial to converse with others about your religion as well. People tend to only see what’s on the surface because they are uneducated and misguided on certain areas and fail in attempting to delve deeper to find the true meaning of things. As you enter into dialogue with someone of an...
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