Circling the ElephantA Comparative Theology of Religious Diversity

Circling the ElephantA Comparative Theology of Religious Diversity

John J. Thatamanil

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780823288526

Publisher: Fordham University Press


Christian theologians have, for some decades, affirmed that they have no monopoly on encounter with God or ultimate reality; other religions also have access to religious truth and transformation. If so, the time has come for Christians not just to learn about but also from their religious neighbors. Circling the Elephant affirms that the best way to move toward the mystery of divinity is to move toward the mystery of the neighbor. In this book, Thatamanil employs the ancient Indian allegory of the elephant and blindfolded men to argue for the integration of three, often-separated theological projects: theologies of religious diversity, comparative theology, and constructive theology. Circling the Elephant also offers an analysis of why we have fallen short in the past. Interreligious learning has been obstructed by problematic ideas about “religion” and “religions.” Thatamanil also notes troubling resonances between reified notions of “religion” and “race.” He contests these notions and offers a new theory of the religious that makes interreligious learning both possible and desirable. Christians have much to learn from their religious neighbors, even about such central features of Christian theology as Christ and Trinity. This book proposes a new theology of religious diversity, one that opens the door to true interreligious learning.