Religious Pluralism and Interreligious Theology

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Interreligious dialogue has encouraged many theologians in all major religious traditions to consider whether other religions may offer a different but nevertheless genuine and valid path of salvation or liberation. Perry Schmidt- Leukel, in this extended version of his 2015 Gifford Lectures, argues that this position—often called "religious pluralism"—must be developed within particular insights supplied by each of the major traditions.

Although severe barriers to religious pluralism exist within each tradition, he shows nevertheless that possibilities for a pluralist understanding exist in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese religions. Interreligious theology, he argues, carries the promise of being the theology of the future.

Perry Schmidt-Leukel is Professor of Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology, University of Münster, and Director of the Institute for Religious Studies and Interfaith Theology. He has published a dozen books in German and English, most recently, Transformation by Integration: How Inter-faith Encounter Changes Christianity (Hymns Ancient & Modern, 2009) and God Beyond Boundaries (Waxmann Verlag, 2017). This book combines his 2015 Gifford Lectures at the University of Glasgow and lectures delivered in 2014 at Zhejiang University in China.

Book Details

Religious Pluralism and Interreligious Theology
The Gifford Lectures—An Extended Edition
Perry Schmidt-Leukel
Clearly written, well researched, and logically argued.
This book by one of today's leading religious pluralists injects new energy into discussions about the meaning of diversity and how to interpret it in imaginative ways. It is the most important book on the scene at the present time.
For those who are new to the field of interreligious studies and interfaith theology, this text is a good introduction to key thinkers from a variety of traditions. It is also a handy text for any who are looking for a succinct overview of some of the field's leading voices.
This book is the most significant contribution to date to have emerged out of debates in theology of religions and comparative theology over the last couple of decades.
"Scholars of interreligious studies will find this an important text with which to engage, while other scholars will find it a fine survey of current debates and a significant restatement of pluralist arguments which take notice of criticisms and debates since Hick. It is highly recommended whichever side of the debate one is on."
Provides an extensive record of the great advances made by interreligious scholarship over the past decades (the list of works referred to by the author is 30 pages long). To the work that has already been done, Schmidt-Leukel adds his own penetrating scholarship and brilliant insights to argue, clearly and convincingly, that increased knowledge of and respect for other religious traditions can enrich and even purify one’s understanding of and commitment to one’s own religious tradition.
Perry Schmidt-Leukel’s lucid accounts of the seeds of pluralist perspectives in various religious traditions and of recent developments in the study of religious plurality are timely and compelling. His fractal theory of religious diversity offers a promising framework for engaging the acute challenges now confronting our global community.
As Perry Schmidt-Leukel argues, the religious communities of the world are facing the possibility, and the necessity, of abandoning claims of superiority in order to engage in mutual learning and collaboration for the well-being of all. He makes a powerful and lucid case that this "pluralist option" can be taken with academic integrity, religious fidelity, and ethical responsibility. His voice needs to be heard within the English-speaking conversation on theologies of religions and comparative theology.
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