Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Theological Reflection across Religious Traditions: The Turn to Reflective Believing

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Theological Reflection across Religious Traditions: The Turn to Reflective Believing

Article excerpt

Theological Reflection across Religious Traditions: The Turn to Reflective Believing. By Edward Foley. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. xvii + 159 pp. $32.00 (paper).

Edward Foleys book represents an initial response to what he perceives to be a serious limitation in the classic methodology of theological reflection, when this is used in interfaith and secularized pastoral ministry contexts. It is the fruit of his relationships with students, chaplains, and other ministers of many faiths, seeking to reflect together on their experiences doing ministry with individuals of many faiths and none.

The text reflects Foleys own journey as an academic and theological practitioner. He is clear from the outset that this book discusses a work in process. He starts with an account of theological reflection framed in the classic Christian Whiteheadian style. Foley describes being prompted, by the interfaith context of his teaching ministry, to attempt to nuance that framework for use by those of other faiths. He goes on to reconsider the entire enterprise of Whiteheadian theological reflection, as a result of his discovery that for many faiths the category of "theology" itself is nonexistent or unhelpful.

What Foley tries to develop and articulate, therefore, is an alternative framework that enables reflective discourse about pastoral issues to be car- ried on between practitioners of varying faiths. He articulates the ways that all such frameworks are a form of "gatekeeping" (p. 7), and commits himself to create one in which the "toll" paid by participants of all faiths is as low as possible, in terms of what has to be either let go or taken on in order to participate in the process of reflection (p. 8). His awareness of religious diversity has expanded to include the unaffihated, with whom communities of faith are increasingly trying to find common ground for shared participation in enterprises for the common good. Even more interestingly, Foley describes his realization that many churchgoers are steeped in the "spiritual but not religious" identity that is such a cultural given today, and he raises concerns about the implications of this for preaching.

Above all, Foley is trying to take up a stance of greater humility when learning from and with practitioners of many faiths or of none. He uses Wittgenstein s model of language games to create an improvisatory, multimethod framework that he calls "reflective believing. …

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