A Dialogue of Religions

A Dialogue of Religions

A Dialogue of Religions

A Dialogue of Religions


This dialogue of living religions is relevant both to philosophical reflection and to the comparative study of religion. This is why.

There is a narrowness in modern theology and religious philosophy. Sometimes it is argued that reasoning cannot bring us to truth in religion, so that we have to fall back upon revelation. Revelation here is to be appropriated by faith-- a faith which sometimes looks as though it is quite hostile to reason. Such a standpoint makes theology dogmatic, and philosophy sterile.

Perhaps, however, theology ought to be dogmatic. Isn't that what it is meant to be? And perhaps too philosophy's ultimate and heartrending task is to show its own bankruptcy as a source of metaphysical truth.

Yet there is an obvious and shattering objection to the narrow appeal to revelation. Revelations are many. The Hindu theologian could use the same argument for faith in revelation as does the Christian. If revelations are many, how can we choose between them? Why make the Christian leap of faith, rather than the Muslim or Buddhist one? The case is like that of the Existentialist who cries 'Decide! Make a decision!': very edifying, but decide what? Pep talks have their place, but we want guidance as well. The ringing demand that we should believe is answered by the complaint that preachers preach different things. If there is revealed truth, we need to see the reasons for one formulation rather than another.

For this reason, philosophers of religion (that is, all men who think about religion) cannot ignore the comparative study of religions.

But it may be objected that the formulations do not matter: the ultimate truth in all religion is inexpressible. There is substance in this thought. But it is surprising how often those who say this go on to speak about religion, and in terms of the formulations of their own faith! Besides, though ultimately we . . .

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