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 proof, simply because all theological discourse - even the main elegant, edifying, and "spiritual"--is shot via with polemical components.
Liberal theologies, from the Christian achievement theology of the 19th century to the pluralist theology of the 20th, have assumed that non secular writings reach religious fact and sublimity regardless of any polemical parts 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 various end. Polemical parts could in truth represent the inventive resource of the expressive strength of non secular discourses. Wayne Proudfoot has argued that mystical discourses embrace a suite of ideas that repel any determinate knowing of the ineffable item or event they purport to explain. In Comparative Theology and the matter of spiritual Rivalry, Nicholson means that this precept of negation is attached, probably 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 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 hobbies all over the world. This version recognizes the ineradicable nature of an oppositional measurement 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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Extra resources for Comparative theology and the problem of religious rivalry
That comparative theology should yield basically the same results as the older apologetic theology should come as no surprise when we recognize, following J. Z. ’ ”40 As I shall argue in more detail in the next chapter, the distinction between universal religions and national religions can trace its genealogy directly to the Enlightenment project of dissociating an “essence” of religion from the principle of social antagonism. The privileged category of reunification of theology and comparison 31 universal religion corresponds to the essence of religion freed from its political excrescences.
He argues that the proper task of the history of religions, the understanding of other religions, is distinct from, though complementary to, that of theology, which he deﬁnes rather narrowly as “identifying its own confessional norms, . . ”19 And yet Wach’s conception of the history of religions as a hermeneutical discipline rests on presuppositions that his critics would immediately recognize as theological in nature. 22 The same basic criticism applies to the efforts of his disciple, Joseph Kitagawa, to draw a sharp distinction between a “humanistic” and a “theological” approach to the history of religions.
By thus discouraging a recognition of the speciﬁc claims of other religions despite—or, perhaps, precisely because of—the claim to include them, inclusivism and pluralism promote interreligious relations that can be aptly described as hegemonic. The new comparative theology is deﬁned by two features that inversely correspond, respectively, to the apriorism and the summitry of the theology of religions. The ﬁrst and most obvious of these is its empirical method. If there is one claim that deﬁnes the discipline of comparative theology, it is that a serious engagement with one or more other faiths is integral to contemporary interreligious theological reﬂection.