Greggs, Tom (University of Chicago Press, 2008-01)
Although he criticized Barth under the enigmatic phrase “positivism of revelation,” Bonhoeffer saw Barth’s criticism of religion as “his really great merit.” In the present age in which inter-faith dialogue has become more pressing than it has perhaps ever before been, theology can at times engage in two conversations that are not only separate but at worst self‐contradictory: in its discussions with secular society, theology can engage in critical discussions about religion, drinking deeply from the well of criticism offered by the likes of Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Durkheim, and Marx; yet, in its discussions in inter‐faith settings, the danger can arise that these critiques are thrown out altogether or at least lie in abeyance.
This article discusses Origen's belief that the the plurality of names and titles of Christ demonstrates that one should recognise that the full diversity of the world must be taken seriously within God's plan of salvation: the universality of the One who will be "all in all" is not such that it destroys particularity; rather it is a universality which is brought about through a recognition of God's willingness to be involved in the various particularities of creation through the person and work of his Son. The article seeks to outline Origen's teaching on the many titles (or epinoiai) of Christ in Scripture, and then apply this teaching to contemporary theological concerns.
In a novel approach, Dr Greggs asserted that far from a foe to be combated, Dawkins’ thought was of significant benefit to theology in order to help theology recognise its true and proper object – the study of God. Comparing the use of Dawkins to the benefits theology found from engaging with Feuerbach, the lecture pointed to the need for Christian theology to carefully differentiate differing forms of knowledge, and for theology to understand its genuine role. Dr Greggs then went on to consider how theology must not (like Dawkins) confuse God with religion, and how Dawkins’ work mirrors much of 20th and 21st century theology in wishing to get rid of the deus ex machina or the ‘god of the gaps’. Where Greggs discovered a problem with Dawkins’ account, however, was with regards to its anti-pluralist intolerance, and the potential (a)theopolitical dimensions to his thinking.”
In an age in which religion is a burning issue in the geo-political sphere, the need for peoples of different religions to engage in inter-faith dialogue may seem clear; what is less clear is whether there is legitimacy for and imperative to members of individual faith communities to engage with the religious other on the exclusive grounds of their individual faith. This article thus seeks to advocate that theology done in the service of individual faiths needs as a priority to engage in legitimizing and necessitating dialogue with the religious other as the religious other. The article considers the grounds on which exclusivist religious people can undertake inter-faith dialogue. Looking to the need to attend to particularity and the genuine otherness of the religious other, the article advocates that faiths should begin to understand what it is internal to their traditions that makes inter-faith dialogue a necessity for intense and particular religious self-identity. Members of faith communities need to be legitimated on terms internal to their community and by leaders of their community to engage in dialogue with the other: they need to know not only how to engage with the other but also why to engage with the other. Considering the particular tradition of Christianity, the article attends to these themes by seeking hints from scripture and Christ regarding why a Christian should engage with the religious other in order to be more intensely Christian.
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