Postcolonial Theology of Religions: Particularity and Pluralism in World Christianity

By Hesslein, Kayko Driedger | Anglican Theological Review, Winter 2016 | Go to article overview

Postcolonial Theology of Religions: Particularity and Pluralism in World Christianity


Hesslein, Kayko Driedger, Anglican Theological Review


Postcolonial Theology of Religions: Particularity and Pluralism in World Christianity. By Jenny Daggers. New York: Routledge, 2013.,x + 236 pp. $44.95 (paper).

Postcolonial critique has been constructively applied to an increasing number of theological areas in the past few decades, with great success. This volume by Jenny Daggers is a timely contribution, as her book is one of the first to critique and offer a reconstruction of Christian theologies of religion from a postcolonial framework. Whether one immersed in the Eurocentric theological tradition can be successful in constructing such a work remains to be seen.

Daggers seeks to develop a particularist Christian theology of religions founded on feminist and Asian Christian interpretations of postcolonial theology that remains within the orthodox realm as defined by its adherence to trinitarianism. This is no simple goal. Her book arises from a desire to resist the Eurocentric roots of theologies of religious pluralism, which guides her summary and critique of the last six hundred years of Christian engagement with other religions. To construct a new approach that acknowledges the particularity and equality of every religion while still remaining firmly grounded within mainstream theology, she appeals to Asian liberation theologians. These theologians, both male and female, serve to prove that EuroAmerican Christians may "borrow" understandings of religious co-existence from non-Christians without either succumbing to colonialism or abandoning orthodox Christian theology.

The contributions of this book rest in Daggers's introductory critical survey of modern attempts at theologies of religious pluralism and in her argument that a comparative religion methodology is most productive for avoiding colonialism and for valuing the particularity of each religion. She also offers a survey of male and female Asian and Asian-American perspectives on Christianity's co-existence with other religions that is missing from contemporary Euro-American theological endeavors.

Unfortunately, Daggers s work falls short of its postcolonial goal on several fronts. First, she does not engage the deeper problems of interreligious dialogue or theologies of religious pluralism: namely, the barrier that soteriology erects when differences are finally recognized. The Christian soteriological claim that Christ saves the world, or even that the realm of God is globally healing and restorative, must be evaluated as a colonial claim on theologies of religious pluralism. Daggers's failure to address soteriology, assuming it rather under the umbrella of trinitarian theology, means that her proposal contains remnants of unrecognized colonial overtones, as when she uncritically adopts Mark S. Heim's proposal that all religions ultimately find their commonality in a "single divine ultimate reality" that is implicitly, if not explicitly, triune (p. …

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