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In Search of the Divine: Some Unexpected Consequences of Interfaith Dialogue

In Search of the Divine: Some Unexpected Consequences of Interfaith Dialogue
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Edited book , Index , Notes
$22.95 (17.21)
The God series books were based on a group of meetings that brought together over 100 scholars from around the world to pursue various aspects of a contemporary discussion of God. The participants were drawn from all parts of the our world and from virtually every religious tradition. Here Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Confucianists, members of African religions, and many others meet each other face to face. Moreover, the participants come from a wide range of disciplines and from cultures East and West, North and South.

Easy generalizations about people in other traditions–or in other strands of one’s own tradition–are quickly seen to be inadequate to the living reality. And as a result participants set in motion in their own lives dynamics and processes that will bear fruit in unpredictable ways. The vast majority of participants found this to be an event of great significance for them.

There was no attempt made to impose a certain outcome on these deliberations, nor was it assumed that there was some easy unity that underlied all the multiplicity present to the discussions. Nevertheless, what emerged was a heightened awareness of the beliefs and views of others and one’s own, and a determination to pursue lines of development.

The volumes in the God: The Contemporary Discussion Series are indicative of the continued pursuit and represent “stepping stones” designed to broaden the forum of the discussions. Many of the essays presented also reflect the influence of the encounter on each individual contributor. A unique experience herein awaits the student of religion or philosophy, the seeker of knowledge of the Ultimate, the teacher of spiritual discipline, or anyone interested in the emerging confluence of the religious traditions of the world.

In Search of the Divine: Some Unexpected Consequences of Interfaith Dialogue

“This work gives an Illuminating view into interreligious dialogue on a most important topic. It reflects the present stage of interreligious dialogue and moves this forward.”–Dr. Ewert H. Cousins, Fordham University

The ten essays by representatives of six major religions presented here serve two primary purposes. First, the unifying theme of both the conference and the papers addresses the nature of the person and the Divine in the various religions of the world. While neither the term “person” nor “Divine” is indigenous to some of die traditions represented in this volume, the exploration of how various religious traditions describe, delimit, and discuss the human predicament as related to what is considered Eternal or Divine established the parameters of the papers.

The second issue, which arose inadvertently during the conference’s discussions and constitutes the main thrust of the book’s Introduction, can be stated in the question, “On what common ground can interfaith dialogue take place and what are the pitfalls of such dialogues?” While the discussions among the participants were congenial, thoughtful, and provocative, a frequent collision of assumptions occurred. Namely, there were those whose papers and comments reflected the assumption that “common ground” should be found at a refined level of religious experience, while others argued that theological or religious propositions should be the final
arbiters which determine what is universal to all faiths. Still others were convinced by the discussion that common ground may not exist between the various world faiths.

Fortunately, it is the reader who benefits from this important discussion. A great deal of information is presented about the way in which various religions of the world understand the person and the Divine in their scriptures, and the reader will also find that there are discernable differences between the way a person within a faith outlines his or her scripture’s notion of person and Divine.

Table of Contents
Inside the Mind of the Infinite: Dialogue and Understanding in Interfaith Encounters
PART ONE: The Ultimate Conceived in Personal Terms
1. Man and God Bound in Love: A Vaisnava Approach
2. Allah and Man in Islam
3. The Loving God Who Reveals Himself in History: A Protestant Christian Perspective
4. God and Man in the Tamil Saiva Siddhanta
PART TWO: The Ultimate Conceived in Nonpersonal Terms
5. The Image of the Divine and Person in Zoharic Kabbalah
6. God in the Gathas
7. The Person, the Absolute, and Ultimate Self-Transformation in the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana (Ta-sheng Ch’i-hsin-lun)
8. The Distinction Between the Conception of the Creator of the Universe and the Savior in Tibetan Buddhism
9. God as Dhamma in Theravada Buddhist Literature

LARRY D. SHINN, formerly Professor of History of Religion at Oberlin College, is currently Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Bucknell University.

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IJWP 27:2, June 2010, pdf

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