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Does Copernicus Help? Reflections for a Christian Theology of Religions

  • J. J. Lipner (a1)

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I want to consider in this paper a question that is looming large in the theology of most world religions, not least in the Christian tradition. The following discussion will be confined to the Christian standpoint, though I hope mutatis mutandis the main points will be seen to apply to other religious perspectives as well. Specifically then, this question can be ex–pressed in two ways. We may ask, (i) in the context of the contemporary dialogue situation, how is the committed Christian to regard the adherents of non–Christian religions? and (ii) what status do these alien belief–systems have with respect to the Christian faith–response? Both forms of the issue are often discussed it seems to me without due attention being given to an important distinction between them. So, at the outset, it will be useful to make one or two observations about this. First of all, it is inevitable, I think, that an evaluational factor is implied by both formulations. We are pondering a basically Christian assessment of religious traditions that are non–Christian, and any solution suggested which eventually eliminates a one-sided overall perspective will apparently put us in a dilemma. For, on the one hand, a Christian theology of religions will be expected to produce a Christian (and therefore evaluational) result; on the other hand, a finally nonevaluational solution seems unable to be called a Christian view of things at all. In the event of such a ‘neutral theology’ as the latter resulting (by no means a purely speculative question as we shall see), is the dilemma that becomes apparent a genuine one, or can it be resolved by a more stringent analysis of the relevant issues?

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page 245 note 1 Macmillan, , 1973.

page 245 note 2 Op. cit. p. 121.

page 245 note 3 ibid.

page 245 note 4 ibid.

page 246 note 1 London, 1956.

page 246 note 2 Op. cit. pp. 17–18.

page 248 note 1 God and the Universe of Faiths p. 122.

page 248 note 2 Theological Investigations, vol. 2 (London ed., 1963), pp. 1–88.

page 248 note 3 Op. cit. pp. 40–1.

page 248 note 4 Op. cit. p. 41.

page 249 note 1 God and the Universe of Faiths, p. 122.

page 250 note 1 Op. cit. pp. 120–1.

page 250 note 2 In appropriate contexts this model may well apply to other religious viewpoints; op. cit. Pp. 131–2.

page 250 note 3 Op. Cit, p. 122.

page 250 note 4 ibid.

page 250 note 5 Op. cit. p. 127.

page 251 note 1 Op. Cit. p. 131.

page 251 note 2 Mentor Books (1964 ed.), p. 116.

page 251 note 3 Op. Cit. p. 132.

page 253 note 1 Op. Cit. p. 124.

page 254 note 1 See op. cit. p. 133.

page 254 note 2 Cf. op. cit. p. 132; also see his ‘The Reconstruction of Christian Belief, 2' in Theology (Sept. 1970), Pp. 399 f.

page 254 note 3 God and the Universe of Faiths, p. 132.

page 254 note 4 ibid.

page 255 note 1 ibid.

page 255 note 2 Op. cit. p. 141.

page 255 note 3 See chs. 1 and 2 of God and the Universe of Faiths.

page 256 note 1 Op. Cit. p. 125.

page 256 note 2 ibid.

page 257 note 1 Cf. e.g. Towards a Theology of Religions, by Schiette, H. R. (London ed. 1965), and Abhishiktananda‘s, SwamiGuru and Disciple (London, SPCK, 1974).

page 258 note 1 Taken from the Presidential Address, ‘Jesus, Incarnation and the World Religions’ to the Society for the Study of Theology, 1976.

page 258 note 2 Ps. 137, v. 4(RSV).

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