By Hugh Nicholson
In theological discourse, argues Hugh Nicholson, the political is going "all the best way down." One by no means reaches a bedrock point of politically impartial spiritual proof, simply because all theological discourse - even the main elegant, edifying, and "spiritual"--is shot via with polemical components.
Liberal theologies, from the Christian achievement theology of the 19th century to the pluralist theology of the 20 th, have assumed that spiritual writings reach non secular fact and sublimity regardless of any polemical components they may include. via his research and comparability of the Christian mystical theologian Meister Eckhart and his Hindu counterpart ÍaSkara, Nicholson arrives at a really varied end. Polemical parts might actually represent the artistic resource of the expressive strength of non secular discourses. Wayne Proudfoot has argued that mystical discourses embrace a suite of ideas that repel any determinate knowing of the ineffable item or event they purport to explain. In Comparative Theology and the matter of spiritual Rivalry, Nicholson means that this precept of negation is attached, probably via a technique of abstraction and sublimation, with the necessity to distinguish oneself from one's intra- and/or inter-religious adversaries.
Nicholson proposes a brand new version of comparative theology that acknowledges and confronts probably the most pressing cultural and political problems with our time: particularly, the "return of the political" within the kind of anti-secular and fundamentalist pursuits all over the world. This version recognizes the ineradicable nature of an oppositional size of non secular discourse, whereas honoring or even advancing the liberal undertaking of curbing intolerance and prejudice within the sphere of religion.
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Building on Kathryn Tanner’s trenchant critique of this aspect of postliberalism in her book, Theories of Culture, I argue that postliberalism’s substantive concept of Christian identity represents yet another way of evading the ineluctability of the political in religion. The historical survey in chapter 2 sets the stage for the constructive task, undertaken in chapter 3, of developing a theoretical model of comparative theology that directly confronts the problem of the political. 55 In the ﬁrst part of the chapter, I argue that a political moment of exclusion is implicit in a relational understanding of Christian identity like Tanner’s.
He argues that the proper task of the history of religions, the understanding of other religions, is distinct from, though complementary to, that of theology, which he deﬁnes rather narrowly as “identifying its own confessional norms, . . ”19 And yet Wach’s conception of the history of religions as a hermeneutical discipline rests on presuppositions that his critics would immediately recognize as theological in nature. 22 The same basic criticism applies to the efforts of his disciple, Joseph Kitagawa, to draw a sharp distinction between a “humanistic” and a “theological” approach to the history of religions.
I thus deﬁne the political in terms of an adversarial relation between an “us” and a “them” that stops short of declaring the “them” an introduction 9 enemy. To anticipate the thesis of the ﬁrst part of this book, I shall argue that when the political is understood in this way, it is compatible with an acceptance of religious pluralism and a respect for religious others. This revised deﬁnition of the political rests on a different understanding of the basis of the inescapability thesis. Schmitt based his claim for the unavoidability of political antagonism on a pessimistic, Augustinian view of human nature.
Comparative theology and the problem of religious rivalry by Hugh Nicholson