How to Do Comparative Theology

By Francis X. Clooney; Klaus Von Stosch | Go to book overview

15 Theologizing for the
Yoga Community?:
COMMITMENT AND HYBRIDITY
IN COMPARATIVE THEOLOGY

Stephanie Corigliano

Comparative theology is a transformative academic pursuit. To name but a few examples, James Fredericks, Paul Knitter, Catherine Cornille, and Francis X. Clooney all argue in different ways that comparative theology is a study that begins with a theologian who is rooted in a particular faith tradition. In this way, the learning about and from another tradition, as Knitter describes, is an act of passing over, which necessarily entails a passing back, or return to one’s home tradition.1

This essay questions the idea that an explicit faith commitment is a necessary criterion for comparative theology. Conversely, I propose that for some, comparative theology is a way of exploring and even forming faith identity, thus faith commitments may be unclear or not “rooted” in a particular tradition at the beginning of a comparative exercise. As such, the comparative discussion might be navigated between three points, the two historical traditions (and associated texts) being compared and that of a modern community (religious, spiritual, or otherwise) or a particular question that arises from the con temporary context.2

This methodological approach may further the scope and impact of comparative theology by expanding the possibilities for who can do comparative theology. It also has implications for how it might be used in settings such as the classroom, where faith-identity is not a prerequisite for enrollment. Comparative theology can be a means for thoughtfully engaging more than one religious tradition in a way that relates to philosophical questions and the personal search for meaning and lifeunderstanding. Further, comparative theology is an effective method for studying New Religious Movements or New Spiritual Practices and contemporary expressions of religious faith.3 Thus, the criteria of commitment or the “rooted” position of faith may need to be re-examined in

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