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Circling the ElephantA Comparative Theology of Religious Diversity$
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John J. Thatamanil

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823288526

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823288526.001.0001

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The Limits and Promise of Exclusivism and Inclusivism

The Limits and Promise of Exclusivism and Inclusivism

Assessing Major Options in Theologies of Religious Diversity

(p.41) 2 The Limits and Promise of Exclusivism and Inclusivism
Circling the Elephant

John J. Thatamanil

Fordham University Press

This chapter surveys major exclusivist and inclusivist theologies of religious diversity. The central question that the author brings to bear in assessing any theology of religious diversity is, “Does this theory make interreligious learning possible?” The author proposes four major criteria: 1) The difference without incommensurability criterion: does this theology of religious diversity affirm that traditions are genuinely different such that real learning is possible but not so different as to be incommensurable? 2) The truth criterion: does this theology of religious diversity affirm that at least some strands of other traditions grant access to religious truth? 3) The critical theory of religion criterion: does this theology of religious diversity offer a sophisticated theory of religion that makes interreligious learning possible? 4) The intrinsic religious interest criterion: can I be interested in another tradition’s own religious ends, while remaining a member of my own? The author shows that when theologies of religious diversity fail, they do so most often because of an inadequate theory of religion. The author also shows that, surprisingly, even some exclusivist leave room for interreligious learning.

Keywords:   Gavin D’Costa, exclusivism, Paul Griffiths, inclusivism, Gerald McDermott, religious truth, Daniel Strange, soteriology, theologies of religious diversity

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