Beyond Religious Discord: The Divine Principle in Inter-Religious Perspective

Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 7, 2006 - Pages 9-22

The purpose of this paper is to discuss and analyze the Divine Principle (1998), that is, the thought of Sun Myung Moon, from an inter-religious perspective. It focuses on the Divine Principle’s theology of religions and on how the Divine Principle and Unification thought responds to and makes sense of the fact of religious pluralism. Religion today is often regarded as a negative factor. It is depicted as the relic of human infancy rather than as a mark of human maturity. Some, ranging from the Oxford Scientist Richard Dawkins on the one hand, to the Bangladeshi exile and writer Taslima Nasrin, on the other hand, think religion best abandoned. Dawkins considers religious faith to be “a type of mental illness” (Dawkins, 330) since it is capable of justifying anything, such as that a person “should die—on the cross, at the stake, skewered on a Crusader’s sword, shot in a Beirut street, or blown up in a bar in Belfast.” (Dawkins, 198) Nasrin, a medical doctor by training, suggests that humanity would be better served if all prayer halls were turned into schools, libraries or orphanages:

Let the bricks of temples, mosques, gurudawaras, churches, be burned in blind fire, and upon these heaps of destruction let lovely flower gardens grow … Let children’s schools and study halls grow … let prayer halls now be turned into hospitals … from now on let religion’s other name be humanity’ (Nasrin, 223).

Meanwhile, Harvard academic Samuel P Huntington famously predicted that the next conflict would be civilizational, not ideological, and suggested that the Muslim world together with a neo-Confucian alliance, would oppose the West.

Neither Dawkins, Nasrin nor Huntington can be said to view religion in a very positive light. Many point to such conflicts as Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Israel-Palestine and Pakistan-India as examples of religion being used to fuel animosity. While economic, nationalistic and ethnic issues are also significant root causes of all these conflicts, the religious element can not be ignored. Thus, some ask whether religion, because it is part of the problem, can actually also become part of the cure, or not. First, the paper will establish how the Divine Principle understands other religions in relation with itself, drawing on the three paradigms, exclusivist, inclusivist and pluralist as developed by Alan Race (1983). Second, it will analyze how the Divine Principle understands the future of religion as a positive or negative aspect of life, arguing that, according to the Divine Principle, religions have a harmonizing and bridge-building, not a divisive and polarizing, role to play. Finally, since the commitment to promoting inter-religious dialogue of the Unification movement under Sun Myung Moon’s leadership is in fact a matter of public record, the paper will briefly evaluate what has been achieved, if anything, as a result of this involvement.

 

The Three Paradigms

Alan Race developed the three paradigms as an analytical tool, or classification typology, for interpreting Christian contributions to theology of religions, understood here as theological reflection on inter-religious relations and on the questions raised for all people of faith living in today’s pluralist, post-modern world. He suggested that most Christian contributions can be described either as exclusivist, inclusivist or as pluralist. While originally applied to Christian thought, the three paradigms can be utilized to analyze the contributions or positions of scholars from other religious traditions. For example, Hugh Goddard, although with a note of caution, does so vis-à-vis Muslim theology of religions:

We… find that, to some extent, the categories of ‘exclusivist’, ‘inclusivist’ and ‘pluralist’ can also be applied to different Muslim writers, but these terms need to be used as cautiously in this context as they do with reference to contemporary Christian theology of religions. (Goddard, 158)

On the other hand, like all systems of classification, the paradigms have their limitations. This writer’s own former teacher, Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, famously suggested that his own position had elements of all three. (Newbigin, 182-83)[1] As this paper demonstrates, Unification thought may also resist easy classification in terms of the three paradigms but pluralism is probably the most appropriate category. Traditionally, Hendrik Kraemer, Karl Rahner and John Hick have been discussed as exemplars of each paradigm. This paper therefore uses these theologians to create discourse between the three paradigms and the Divine Principle.

Exclusivism

Hendrik Kraemer (1999-65) was a missionary in Indonesia (1922-36), then Professor of the History of Religions at his own alma mater, the University of Leiden (1937-48), and the first director of the WCC’s Ecumenical Institute at Bossy from 1948-1955. In 1938 he wrote the preparatory volume, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World, for the International Missionary Council’s Tambaram Conference. He was influenced by Karl Barth (1886-1968), whose dialectic or crisis theology reacted against the identification of Hitler’s ideology with divine revelation via nature, which deified “what is by nature relative and limited.” (Kraemer, 1938:117)[2] Kraemer also reacted against Re-thinking Missions, a laymen’s inquiry into the state of American Protestant missions after one hundred years, chaired by William Ernest Hocking (1873-66). Hocking advocated that service and collaboration with other faiths should replace conversion and competition. (Hocking, 1932:327) Christian faith could not be transmitted to others, said Hocking, because Christians are always journeying towards deeper faith. (1956:166) In response, Kraemer argued that the Christ-event (the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus) uniquely and exclusively represents God’s redeeming movement towards humanity (vertical revelation). All religions, including Christianity, represent futile human (horizontal) efforts to find God. Religions are a seeking for God; Revelation is that in which God finds humanity. “We have learnt,” wrote Kraemer, “that Christianity as a historical religion has to be distinguished very sharply from the Christian revelation.” (1939:13) The Christian religion is subject to corruption, Revelation is incorruptible. Thus, there is discontinuity between “God’s self-disclosure in Jesus Christ” (1939:1) and all religions, which are “the product of man’s great effort” (1938:285). Revelation, ultimately, stands over-and-against all religion, as it and it only represents a total apprehension of reality. (1938:117) Kraemer often cited John 14:6, Jesus’ saying that he is the way, the truth and the life, to support his view, which he described as ‘biblical realism.’

Kraemer believed that each religion has at its core a valid apprehension of the divine but argued that these possess no permanent value. Some exclusivists see the religions as of satanic origin, as tissues of falsehood actively opposing Christian truth. Christianity as religion has one advantage: it is self critical and knows that it can become corrupt. (1938:109, 145) Salvation is exclusively mediated through conscious and declared faith in Jesus and the church’s mission is not service or humanitarianism but the proclamation that “Jesus Christ is the sole legitimate Lord of all and that the failure to recognize this is the deepest religious error of mankind.” (437)

Typically, many Muslims subscribe to an exclusivist view, believing that acceptance of Islam is essential for salvation, arguing that the Jews and Christians and others whom the Qur’an refers to as having “nothing to fear on the day of Judgment” (Q 2:62) had lived before the time of Muhammad. (Esack, 1997:161-62)[3] Islam, in this view, supersedes all earlier religions. Many Buddhists believe that it is only when an individual is born into an environment where exposure to the Buddhist dharma occurs, with its correct teaching, that enlightenment can occur although they do not deny that enlightenment can take place independently of any formal contact with Buddhism as a system. Theistic belief, though, is likely to hinder enlightenment. Exclusivism seems arrogant but those who advocate it say that being possessed by (or being in possession of truth) means that, in all humility, you are duty bound to share this with others, and that this is not arrogant. Many Christians link exclusivism with the Cross, arguing that if there was any other way by which humanity might be saved, Jesus’ death becomes a mockery, so “to remain quiet is treason to our fellow human beings.” (Newbigin, 1989:230)

Inclusivism

Karl Rahner (1904-1984) is recognized by many as the foremost Catholic theologian of the twentieth century. A Jesuit priest and a University teacher, he regarded ‘faith’ as God’s free gift and believed that ‘faith’ can reside in people’s hearts regardless of their external religious identity. His profoundest conviction was that God is a God of love, and he did not think that God’s love could be defeated by the “extremely limited stupidity and evil-mindedness of men.” (1966:124) “If one believes,” he wrote, “in the universal salvific purposes of God towards all men in Christ, it need not and really cannot be doubted that gratuitous influences of properly Christian supernatural grace are conceivable in the life of all men.” (125) Thus a non-Christian may have actually “experienced the grace of God” without knowing that this grace is being mediated through Jesus Christ. This is Rahner’s famous ‘anonymous Christian.’ Rahner did not advocate the end of missions, since “the individual who grasps Christ in a clearer, purer and more reflective way has, other things being equal, a still greater chance of salvation than someone who is merely an anonymous Christian.” (132) However, he believed that even without a ‘with-the-lips’ or verbal confession of faith in Jesus or a formal association with the Church, people of other faiths could attain salvation (Acts 4:12).

This was also the view of Alfred George Hogg (1875-1954) who was Kraemer’s most vocal critic at Tambaram. Hogg argued passionately that there could be a finding, as well as a seeking, in other religions: “I have known and had fellowship with some for whom Christ was not absolute Lord and Savior, who held beliefs of the typically Hindu color, and yet who manifestly were no strangers to the life hid in God.” (1939:110) He pointed to Gandhi as a true man of God. (112) The standard criticism of inclusivism is that it represents a type of Christian imperialism, asserting that all those who are saved are saved through Christ, not because of any real merit or value or presence of the divine within the faith they actually profess.

Some Hindus advocate an inclusivist theology of religions. Vivekananda (1863-1902), speaking at the Parliament of World’s Religions at Chicago in 1893, cited Krishna’s words, “Even those who worship other God’s with love [bhakta] and sacrifice to them, fulfilled with faith, do really worship me.” (Bhagavad-Gita 9:23)[4] Vivekananda taught that the Hindu should not become Christian or vice-versa but “assimilate the Spirit of the others and yet preserve their individuality and grow according to his own law.”[5] Nonetheless, at the highest level, truth is not a personal Isvara (deity) but “above and beyond labels” and Vedanta (non-theistic Hinduism) is best placed to become the “future religion of thinking humanity.” (Nehru, 1946:337) For the Christian inclusivist, John 14:6 means that wherever people walk towards God, Jesus is their guide whether they are conscious of this or not (thus they are anonymous Christians), that wherever people apprehend truth, that truth is Jesus, and wherever people live life fully as life ought to be lived, that is, in fellowship with God, Jesus mediates this life.

Pluralism

John Hick[6] (born 1922) was raised as an evangelical Christian, and had assumed that salvation derives from explicit Christian faith. However, moving to his teaching post in multi-cultural Birmingham in 1967, he began to question this assumption as he met and became friends with people from many faiths. In his 1973 book, God and the Universe of Faiths, he advocated a paradigm shift, from a Christo-centric to a theo-centric emphasis, one that moves Christ from the center to the circumference, positing that it is the Absolute, or the Real (Hick prefers to avoid using this term, ‘God’ as this is less inclusive) that occupies the centre. He compared this with the Copernican revolution, which moved the earth from the center. All religions revolve around the center, and represent culturally mediated responses. Hick does not claim that every religion is necessary equally efficient in enabling adherents to achieve their goal but he says it would be invidious to pass any type of judgment, since religions are culturally embedded. However, he does suggest that the degree to which a religion brings about individual transformation from self-centeredness to Other-centeredness (which can include transformation from selfishness to living for the sake of others, to use of phase coined by Sun Myung Moon) is a reasonable guide to their value and worth. Like Rahner, it was conviction of the love of God that caused Hick’s own paradigm shift. He wrote:

We as Christians that God is the God of universal love… That he wills the ultimate good and salvation of all… And yet we also know… that the large majority of the human race… have lived outside the borders of Christendom. Can we accept the conclusion that the God of love who seeks to save all mankind has nevertheless ordained that men must be saved in such as way that only a small minority can in fact receive this salvation? It is the weight of this moral contradiction that has driven Christian thinkers in modern times to explore other ways of understanding the human religious situation. (1973:122-3)

Pluralism privileges neither Christianity nor Christ nor any other religion and, to cite Hans Küng, not merely recognizes the existence of other religions “but their intrinsic equal value.” (1993:180) All paths lead, perhaps at different speed, up to the same mountaintop. Again, this has been characterized as a Hindu view, given that Hinduism embraces many different margas (ways or paths) but posits a single goal, mukti or moksa (liberation from the cycle of existence). This writer’s former teacher, Hasan Askari,[7] argues from a Muslim-Sufi perspective for a form of pluralism. He suggests that no religion reflects the Absolute absolutely, and that if it did it would become oppressive, totalitarian and dogmatic. He writes:

As we bow to each other as soul beings, we bow before God who is both in us and above us. What can then prevent us from saying to each other that my soul and your soul is one soul, that our God and your God is one God? We shall then abolish fear, and then our greeting of peace will be a perfect greeting! (2004)

Co-witness and mutual mission, says Askari, should replace competition. The aim of exchange or encounter with the religious Other, then, is not to convert them to my faith (or to faith in Christ) but for each to witness to the Absolute as they perceive it. Both will thus journey vertically together towards greater understanding of truth, not horizontally towards either faith tradition. Pluralists generally share Hocking’s conviction that co-operation in humanitarian, social justice, social welfare and peace-making work is the common task to which all people of good faith are called. Muslims cite Q 5:48 to support this theology of religions:

To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah. it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute.

Many pluralists, as did Hocking, believe that a single world civilization will evolve, which will build on the best of all faiths and cultures. Hocking identified this coming world civilization with the Kingdom of God (1956:118) and believed that Christianity had a special role to play in assisting other faiths to re-conceive themselves in universal terms. (230; 277)

 

The Divine Principle and Religious Pluralism

The Divine Principle unambiguously affirms that the hand of God lies behind all religions. This is stated in several passages, including:

God sends prophets and saints to fallen humanity to found religions. He works to develop them through the original minds of those who seek the good. In this way, God builds up cultural spheres based upon religions. Although many cultural spheres have emerged in the course of history, with the passage of time most of them either merged or were absorbed by others. (98)

The Divine Principle identifies four religio-cultural spheres that have been of historical significance, which it views as providential, namely the East Asian sphere, the Hindu, the Islamic and the Christian spheres but comments that the ‘current trend has these four cultural spheres forming one global cultural sphere based on the Christian’. Sun Myung Moon has spoken of the leaders of the main religions of the world having reconciled their differences in the Spirit World. In terms of the three paradigms, the above understanding of the divine origin of religion can not be described as exclusivist. The Divine Principle does not regard religion as a purely human construct, as human seeking for God but posits a divine source and it certainly does not ascribe them a satanic origin. Salvation is not limited to followers of a single religion but the Spirit World is home to people from many faiths, so salvation is not the exclusive possession or gift of any one faith. This sounds like pluralism, since there is no claim that explicit faith in Christ is a pre-requisite for salvation. Like both Kraemer and Hick, the Divine Principle firmly locates religions within cultural milieu, which parts company from those who want to draw a clear demarcation between religion as universal and trans-cultural, and culture as localized and limited in scope.

Like Hocking, the Divine Principle sees religions and cultures merging into a single, unified world community, which for Sun Myung Moon will be the Kingdom of heaven on earth. Does the special role predicted for Christianity, then, represent an exclusivist type claim? Hocking did not envisage people converting to Christianity in the conventional sense, nor did Rahner believe in the absolute necessity of conversion, although it is perhaps desirable. Neither Hocking nor Sun Myung Moon envisions their coming world civilization as Christian per se; rather, it will include the richness and insights, the intellectual and cultural achievements of all peoples. Perhaps closer to claiming some exclusive role is the predicted key place that Korea may play. The Divine Principle argues that the fruits of all civilizations will bear fruit in Korea. There is a need for a Messiah who will transcend religious difference, and that person will be Korean because Korea has been a melting-pot of religion and culture. Korean, too, is likely to be the new lingua franca of the unified world, the restored pre-Babel lingua Adamica. The Divine Principle posits that humanity progresses along the providential path when societies and individuals move from exclusive loyalty to the local or to the tribe or to the nation towards an inclusive, universal loyalty to the whole of humanity. Yet this can also be described as inclusivist, since all that is true will be gathered up and included in the Kingdom of Heaven.

In his speeches what Sun Myung Moon emphasizes is not that Korea’s role is set in stone, but that humanity needs must reconcile differences, destroy barriers between people, establish true families and societies centered on God, care for the environment and move beyond conflict to concord, beyond selfishness to selflessness, before our greed destroys our planet. Shouldering our co-responsibility with God for the correct ordering of creation cannot wait for petty rivalries to resolve themselves; the nation that leads the way will have the privilege of standing first. Thus, the lost balance and harmony (in deficit since the Fall) needs to be restored. Indemnity must be paid. The society that will inaugurate the kingdom of God will be one with ‘the highest level of civilization, one in which all civilizations which have developed through the vertical course of providential history will be restored horizontally under the leadership of God’. This harmonization may well be destined to take place in Korea (406) but this would hardly be for the exclusive benefit of anyone. It would be for the inclusive good of all. Sun Myung Moon believes that recognition of his role as True Parent and Messiah will hasten the Kingdom’s coming. However, his movement works with all people of good will to remove obstacles in the way of peace, thus he advocates and supports inter-inter-religious cooperation, along similar lines perhaps to Hocking’s call for humanitarian and social collaboration. Sun Myung Moon is especially committed to bringing the religious and the political spheres into harmony, and (like many Muslims) he is critical of their separation. Like Kraemer, he recognizes that religions do not always represent a positive influence, commenting that “religions have made strenuous efforts to deny life in this world in their quest for the life eternal.” (6) Ultimately, Moon is less interested in the ‘next life’ than he is in restoring the Kingdom of God on earth. He has pointed out that even Jesus is not yet in Heaven (which will be here on earth) but in Paradise.[8] The Divine Principle, however, represents a ‘new truth’ that many religious people will find difficult to accept: “They believe that the scriptures they have are already perfect and flawless. Certainly, truth itself is unique, eternal, immutable and absolute. Scriptures, however, are not the truth itself, but… are textbooks teaching the truth.” (7)

This passage singles Christians out as likely to find acceptance of the new truth problematic, but it could be argued that Muslims, for whom the Qur’an is wholly divine speech, may have greater difficulty. Many Christians admit a human element in the Bible, which witnesses to the truth that is above and beyond us all. On the other hand, Abdulkarim Soroush, the leading Iranian thinker, argues that while the Qur’an is divine and infallible, all readings of it are by definition human and therefore fallible. (2000:16) Arguably, the future single world civilization that the Divine Principle posits as the providential end of history goes beyond all existing religions, as all will be made new. In this sense, Christianity is not privileged, nor is the Unification movement itself, but plays its role alongside other religions as one of many stepping stones along the way. Perhaps, then, the Divine Principle, which affirms that God sent the prophets and founded the religions, is of necessity pluralist. Sun Myung Moon describes the Unification movement as a “new religious movement centering on Christianity” but does not say that it is identical with Christianity. The desired unification is not the smothering and removal of all differences but the abolition of the type of difference that divides, in favor of unity in diversity. This is the difference about which British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes, “Can we create a paradigm shift through which we come to realize that we are enlarged, not diminished, by difference…” Can we “recognize God’s image in someone who is not in my image? …If I cannot,” he warns, “then I have made God in my image instead of allowing him to remake me in his.” (2002:201).

 

The Unification Movement’s Role in Promoting Dialogue: A Brief Assessment

The Unification Movement has sponsored many inter-religious conferences, including the first Assembly of the World Religions in 1985 and the second Assembly in 1990 attended by this writer. It also sponsored the World Summit for Muslim Leaders in 2001. In 1999, Sun Myung Moon founded the Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), which in 2004 acquired special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In 2005, this body launched the Universal Peace Federation. In this writer’s experience, who has served on several World Council of Churches interfaith consultations, the Unification movement has done more than any other to bring people of different faiths together in dialogue, and to explore common values. Difference is never ignored, nor are problems such as violent conflicts fueled by religion but the aim is always to identify ways in which religion can play a positive, not a negative role. The Unification movement rejects the view that religion is so much part of the problem that it cannot also be part of the cure, contending that religion, like ideologies and nationalism, can be manipulated by people to perpetuate their own power, which may itself depend of seeing certain others as wrong, as evil or as enemies. More often than not, it is social injustice, discrimination and lack of opportunity that feeds conflict. What saddens this writer is that official religious bodies, such as the Vatican and the WCC, have stood at arms length from IIFWP although individuals involved in the WCC have participated, in personal capacities. Evaluation of the work that has been done is difficult, although the same is true for that of the WCC and Vatican. On the other hand, many friendships and alliances have been forged and the volume of publications produced by those involved seems indicative of a general movement in favor of dialogue, not dispute, co-operation not competition, although this is a subjective opinion.

Much effort has been invested in the IIFWP’s Middle East Peace Initiative. This has sponsored numerous pilgrimages to Israel-Palestine, enabling its Ambassadors for Peace, who are drawn from many faiths, to learn first hand about the situation and what lies at its roots. MEPI has engaged in behind-the-scenes talks with senior politicians on both sides. It has also enabled Israelis and Palestinians to meet, to see beyond their demonized stereotypes of each other. Convinced that financial prosperity is a necessary building block for a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, MEPI is committed to economic empowerment. While the MEPI has not attracted the same level of publicity as has the Alexandria Process,[9] which has the official support of the Israeli government and of the Palestinian leadership (this is a religious parallel track to the political Road Map[10]) it is fully supportive of both the political and the religious tracks, and this writer argues that publicity is by itself no measure of success.

While it has yet to be seen whether MEPI is making a significant difference, and no judgment or evaluation can at this stage properly be made, one IIFWP-backed initiative has started to bear fruit. Speaking at the UN on September 22, 2002, Moon called for the establishing of “a council within the United Nations composed of representatives from various religions, parallel with the General Assembly.” “If there is one lofty task that the United Nations can perform for the sake of humankind, it would be to contribute to humanity's spiritual recovery on the foundation of God's true love,” he continued.[11] While this body has not yet materialized, as a direct result of the above proposal, two Resolutions promoting dialogue have been passed by the General Assembly, sponsored by the Government of the Philippines and other interested nations, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Tunisia and Bangladesh. The first resolution was passed on November, 8, 2004 and the second on November 3, 2005, when a co-sponsor said, as he tabled the resolution, “Cooperation and not the clash of civilizations [has] to be the international community’s collective endeavor. All religions and cultures [share] a collective set of beliefs and values. In an effort to promote those shared values and beliefs, Pakistan” tabled the resolution (there were 45 co-sponsors).

 

Conclusion

Arguably, religious people can believe that only their religion is from God and that other religions, even if partly of divine origin, are inadequate. Therefore, everyone must convert to their religion. Or, they can believe that all religions are from God, that all contain truth and that fellowship or at-one-ness with God can be realized from within any faith tradition. Those who hold the latter will probably believe that their mission or calling in God’s world is not to convert people but to co-operate with anyone who shares the same values. They will try to ensure that Abel-type people, whose lives and sacrifices are pleasing to God, dominate the world at the expense of Cain-types, whose lives and sacrifices displease God, to employ Divine Principle vocabulary. Doing God’s will, which is to break down barriers of hatred and division and building up the Kingdom of justice, peace and righteousness becomes more important for them than persuading people to accept particular beliefs, thus praxis takes priority over dogma (ortho-doxy). As Sun Myung Moon said in London on November 5, 2005, “Humankind should end the perverse cycle of sacrificing our children’s lives and squandering astronomical sums of money to fight wars,” since “the time has come for the countries of the world to pool their resources and advance toward the world of peace desired by God.” In inter-religious perspective, the Divine Principle is above all a call to common action in a pluralist world, not to acceptance of a single, narrow, limited, denominational set of beliefs about God. It is, though, this writer’s view that conversion can not be ruled out. As people work out their own salvation (Philippians 2:12) they will sometimes find the spiritual nourishment, or contentment they need in a religion other than the one in which they were raised, and some people who have never identified with any formal religion will benefit from doing so. Yet many of us will borrow from elsewhere while feeling quite comfortable remaining where we are, as much because of the comradeship of the community to which we belong or because we value the symbol and ritual associated with our tradition than because we could never be equally at home any where else.

 

References

Askari, Hasan, 2004. “From Inter-religious Dialogue to Religious Humanism,” Interreligious Insight, Jan 2004 (http://www.interreligiousinsight.org/ January2004/Jan04Askari.html)

Dawkins, Richard. 1989. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Esack, Farid. 1997. The Qur’an, Liberation and Pluralism. Oxford: Oneworld.

Exposition of the Divine Principle. 1996. New York: HSA-UWC.

Goddard, Hugh. 2000. A History of Christian-Muslim Relations (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000)

Hick, John. 1973. God and the Universe of Faiths. London: Macmillan.

Hocking, William Ernest. 1932. Re-thinking Missions. New York: Harper.

Hocking, William Ernest, 1956. The Coming World Civilization. New York, Harper.

Hogg, Alfred George. 1939. “The Christian Attitude to Non-Christian Faith,” The Authority of the Faith. London, International Missionary Council and Oxford University Press, 102-125.

Huntington, Samuel P. 1993. “The Class of Civilizations,” Foreign Affairs 72/3: 22-28.

Kraemer, Hendrik. 1938. The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications.

Kramer. Hendrik. 1939. “Continuity or Discontinuity,” The Authority of the Faith. London: International Missionary Council and Oxford University Press, 1-23.

Küng, Hans. 1993. Christianity and World Religions: Paths to Dialogue. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.

Nasrin, Taslima. 1997. Shame: A Novel (Lajja). Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Nehru, Jawaharlal. 1946. The Discovery of India. Calcutta: Signet Press.

Newbigin, Lesslie, 1989. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. London: SPCK.

Race, Alan. 1993. Christians and Religious Pluralism: Patterns in the Christian Theology of Religions. Second edition. London: SCM.

Rahner, Karl. 1966. “Christianity and the Non-Christian Religions,” Theological Investigations, Vol. 5. New York: Seabury Press, 115-131.

Sacks, Jonathan, 2002. The Dignity of Difference: Avoiding the Clash of Civilizations. New York: Continuum.

Soroush, Abdulkarim, 2000. Reason, Freedom and Democracy in Islam. Oxford: Oxford, University Press.

 

Notes

[1] Newbigin defended exclusivism, though he did not deny the possibility of the salvation of the non-Christian, since salvation is in God’s hands, not ours. He was this writer’s missiology teacher at the Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham 1978-9. Later, between 1983 and 1992 we served together on a number of ecumenical committees within the structure of the Birmingham Council of Christian Churches.

[2] For references to Barth, see Kraemer, 1938:115-6, 118, 120, 131-2, 313.

[3] Esack, whose Ph.D. is from Birmingham, is a leading progressive Muslim who advocates religious pluralism and calls for common action on behalf of the oppressed. This writer has known him since the mid 1980’s.

[4] Available online at www.caip.rutgers.edu/~kanth/jwz/mbm/sv/address1.html

[5] Concluding speech, Chicago, Sept 27, 1893, available online at www.caip.rutgers. edu/~kanth/jwz/mbm/sv/address6.html

[6] This writer has several times attended Professor Hick’s lectures and also served on a committee with him, the advisory board of the International Interfaith Centre, Oxford, UK for several years.

[7] Professor Hasan Askari was one of this writer’s teachers 1978-79 at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian Muslim Relations. Then part of the Selly Oak Colleges, the Centre is now within the University of Birmingham and its current director is an IIFWP Ambassador for Peace.

[8] Sun Myung Moon, “God’s Fatherland and One World,” United Nations, Sept. 22, 2002

[9] The first Alexandria Declaration was published in 2001. See text at www.anglicannifcon.org/Alexand-Declaration.htm. The initiative is supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury and involves senior Orthodox bishops and Muslim ulama.

[10] The Road Map, published in May 2003, is “a performance-based road map to a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (see http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/am/publish/article_982.shtml) and is sponsored by the USA, the UN, the EU and the Russian Federation.

[11] Speech at the UN, Sept. 22, 2002.