Comparative Theology and the Problem of Religious Rivalry

Hardcover | April 22, 2011

byHugh Nicholson

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In theological discourse, argues Hugh Nicholson, the political goes "all the way down." One never reaches a bedrock level of politically neutral religious facts, because all theological discourse - even the most sublime, edifying, and "spiritual" - is shot through with polemical elements. Liberal theologies, from the Christian fulfillment theology of the nineteenth century to the pluralist theology of the twentieth, have assumed that religious writings attain spiritual truth and sublimity despite any polemical elements they might contain. Through his analysis and comparison of theChristian mystical theologian Meister Eckhart and his Hindu counterpart IaSkara, Nicholson arrives at a very different conclusion. Polemical elements may in fact constitute the creative source of the expressive power of religious discourses. Wayne Proudfoot has argued that mystical discourses embodya set of rules that repel any determinate understanding of the ineffable object or experience they purport to describe. In Comparative Theology and the Problem of Religious Rivalry, Nicholson suggests that this principle of negation is connected, perhaps through a process of abstraction andsublimation, with the need to distinguish oneself from one's intra- and/or inter-religious adversaries.Nicholson proposes a new model of comparative theology that recognizes and confronts one of the most urgent cultural and political issues of our time: namely, the "return of the political" in the form of anti-secular and fundamentalist movements around the world. This model acknowledges theineradicable nature of an oppositional dimension of religious discourse, while honoring and even advancing the liberal project of curtailing intolerance and prejudice in the sphere of religion.

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In theological discourse, argues Hugh Nicholson, the political goes "all the way down." One never reaches a bedrock level of politically neutral religious facts, because all theological discourse - even the most sublime, edifying, and "spiritual" - is shot through with polemical elements. Liberal theologies, from the Christian fulfillm...

Hugh Nicholson is Assistant Professor of Theology at Loyola University Chicago. He has published on a wide range of topics in the study of theology and religion, including method in comparative theology, the relation between theology and the study of religion, and selected topics in classical Indian philosophy.

other books by Hugh Nicholson

Format:HardcoverDimensions:344 pages, 6.5 × 9.29 × 1.18 inPublished:April 22, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019977286X

ISBN - 13:9780199772865

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart I: Theology and the Political1. The Reunification of Theology and Comparison in the New Comparative Theology2. The Modern Quest to Depoliticize Theology3. From Apologetics to Comparison: Towards a Dialectical Model of Comparative TheologyPart II: Mysticism East and West Revisited4. Mysticism East and West as Christian Apologetic5. God and the God beyond God in Eckhart and IaSkara6. From Acosmism to Dialectic: IaSkara and Eckhart on the Ontological Status of the Phenomenal World7. Liberative Knowledge as ''Living without a Why''Conclusion