Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries between Religions

Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries between Religions

Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries between Religions

Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries between Religions

Synopsis

This volume offers an in-depth study of key themes common to the Hindu and Christian religious traditions. It redefines how we think about Hinduism, comparative study, and Christian theology. This book offers a bold new look at how traditions encounter one another, and how good comparisons are to be made. Redefining theology as an interreligious, comparative, dialogical, and confessional practice open to all people, it invites not only Hindus and Christians, but also theologians from all religious traditions, to enter into conversation with one another.

Excerpt

It seems that I began work on this book before I knew it. in 1993 I spent a week in Aḻvār Tiru Nagarī, the home of Saṭakōpaṉ, a great Hindu saint from eighth-century South India who wrote beautiful and powerful poetry in honor of Lord Nārāyaṇa. It was the time of the winter festival in honor of Saṭakōpaṉ, and I joined in the daytime and nighttime events celebrated in the great temple there. Perhaps because I had been studying his great Tiruvāymoḻi for several years and because I had been so graciously received in Āḻvār Tiru Nagarī by Annaviar Srinivasan, a priest in the temple, I felt as much at home as I ever had in India. To be in the temple, with the saint's people and before Nārāyaṇa, who he had praised, was a holy moment. But I also saw clearly that I was not a Hindu and could not be one. It had to do with the color of my skin, my everfaltering Tamil, my Irish Catholic upbringing in New York City, and my longer years of study of Christian philosophy and theology. It also had to do with the deeper commitments of my heart, since I had always tried to be one of those who simply “left everything and followed Him” (Luke 5). One does not lightly trade such commitments for new ones.

I had reached a boundary, faced with a powerful, beautiful, and compelling religious encounter with a Hindu God in the living context of a Hindu tradition, and this offered me great consolation. I did not see a way to go forward, yet neither did I wish simply to walk away from it. in retrospect, I can see that part of my concern was professional too. Some comparative work really gives theologians something to think about. I knew that some of my theological colleagues back in America had no use for comparative study and felt comfortably at home within the walls of their own Christian theology. I also wanted to find a way to say why it is good—and compelling—for believing theologians to persist in thinking at that edge where faiths encounter one another.

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