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Buddhist-Christian Studies 22 (2002) 239-241

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Book Review

Religionen im Gesprach (Rig 6):
Hoffnungszeichen Globaler Gemeinschaft

Religionen im Gesprach (Rig 6): Hoffnungszeichen Globaler Gemeinschaft. Edited by Reinhard Kirste, Paul Schwarzenau, and Udo Tworuschka. Hg. Zimmermann Druck + Verlag Balve, 2000. 576 pp.

Religionen im Gesprachis the sixth volume of a yearbook on interreligious issues and dialogue that appears every second fall and is edited on behalf of INTR°A, an interreligious institute in Nachrodt, Germany (to be found on the Internet under <http://>). The international advisory board consists of twenty well-known theologians and philosophers from all over the world who represent several of the world's religions—Hassan Askari, Matthew Fox, John Hick, Jonathan Magoneth, Annemarie Schimmel—to name just a few. Since 1989, the institute has worked toward mutual understanding between religions.

Yearbook number 6 is entitled "Religionen im Gesprach (RIG 6): Hoffnungszeichen Globaler Gemeinschaft, that is, "Religions in Dialogue (vol. 6): Signs of Hope for the Global Community." As the editors note in their preface, this challenge of interreligious dialogue is particularly pressing in the time of a new millennium, and is aptly discussed under the theme of "signs of hope." The volume includes thematic sections that trace historical issues and the praxis and theory of interreligious encounter, along with reports from ongoing situations of dialogue and reviews of recently published books in the field. The review that follows treats each major section of the book in turn.

I. Fundamental Issues on Interreligious Dialogue

The first part of the volume opens with a contribution by Udo Tworuschka, Professor for Religious Science in the theological faculty of Jena University, followed by contributions from Perry Schmidt-Leukel, Professor for Religious Science at Glasgow University and Ravindra Dave, former director at the UNESCO Institute for Education in Hamburg; all three essays address the question of pluralism in a time of growing globalization. Tworuschka begins by differentiating religious science and theology. [End Page 239] Knowing its limits, religious science cannot answer the question of whether there are several gods or only one God, or indeed, whether something holy or divine exists at all. As an empirical discipline, religious science deals with human beings in all times and places, who conceive of and speak about gods and divine beings with symbols, texts, music, rites, and concepts. From this vantage point, Tworuschka explores different language games concerning the doctrinal claim that there is only one God, and further, deals with different meanings of the expressions "belief" and "faith" in different religions. He concludes by sharing the dissatisfaction felt by himself and many of his colleagues with what he calls a bloodless, imaginary, average God who emerges in the context of much pluralistic theology. In the next essay, Schmidt-Leukel explains what he understands by a theology of religion, and then suggests a formal scheme to divide the possible positions within such a theology of religion. He then sets forth what he sees as the primary models for a Christian theology of religion. Schmidt-Leukel himself prefers the pluralist position because its basis is a metaphysically adequate definition of God and a realistic Christology and because it represents a plausible antithesis to the atheist suggestion that the plurality of religions is only a plurality of error and betrayal. The essay by Ravindra Dave reflects upon interreligious dialogues, interreligious understanding, and religious relationships mainly in terms of the encounter of Far Eastern religious thoughts and Western ways of thought. Following Gandhi, he suggests that since the one truth may well be interpreted differently by different interpreters, different interpretations are a necessity, and therefore the following points are also necessary: (1) if one tries to understand another religion, one develops a better understanding of one's own; (2) if one changes one's attitude toward another religion, one decides for the attitude of tolerance; and (3) one becomes a better follower of one's own religion through encountering another. Religious encounter has to be practiced, not only in conversation with others, but also in changing one's...