Common Ground: Islam, Christianity, and Religious Pluralism

Common Ground: Islam, Christianity, and Religious Pluralism

Common Ground: Islam, Christianity, and Religious Pluralism

Common Ground: Islam, Christianity, and Religious Pluralism

Synopsis

Christian-Muslim interaction is a reality today in all corners of the globe, but while many celebrate the commonality of these traditions, significant differences remain. If these religions cannot be easily reconciled, can we perhaps view them through a single albeit refractive lens? This is the approach Paul Heck takes in Common Ground: To undertake a study of religious pluralism as a theological and social reality, and to approach the two religions in tandem as part of a broader discussion on the nature of the good society.

Rather than compare Christianity and Islam as two species of faith, religious pluralism offers a prism through which a society as a whole -- secular and religious alike -- can consider its core beliefs and values. Christianity and Islam are not merely identities that designate particular communities, but reference points that all can comprehend and discuss knowledgeably. This analysis of how Islam and Christianity understand theology, ethics, and politics -- specifically democracy and human rights -- offers a way for that discussion to move forward.

Excerpt

In 2007 a group of Muslims presented the Christian world with a message titled "A Common Word between Us and You." This message, an expression of interreligious solidarity at a time of religious tension, spoke of a shared Christian-Muslim commitment to love of God and love of neighbor. Since then a number of meetings have been convened to discuss the document, which has received encouragement at the highest levels of religious authority and political power. There has also been caution, including a call to recognize the basic differences as well as the commonalities.

It is not surprising to find common ground between Christianity and Islam, which, along with Judaism, look to Abraham as proto-monotheist, friend of God, and father of the covenant between God and his people. At the same time religions make unique claims. Indeed, the very concept of religion may differ from one tradition to another. The common ground will always be contested. This is something for believers to take up in forging their own sense of religious purpose in today's highly pluralistic world. Unique claims will be affirmed, but there is also space to include others under the umbrella of a single truth. The 2000 declaration of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, promulgated under the prefecture of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, invites theologians of the Church "to explore if and in what ways the historical and positive elements of … [other] religions may fall within the divine plan of salvation." Indeed, article 841 of the Catholic Catechism states that God's plan of . . .

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