Jerry Imbong |

October 16, 2019
Political Science

Clearly, we are now living in a period in history characterized by many historians and sociologists as “postmodern”. One characteristic of this period in history is a greater awareness of the different religious traditions. In some places and periods we have been deeply aware of other religious traditions living and growing alongside our own. However, we have to admit that “this pluralistic consciousness has only fully emerged during the lifetime of people now living.” (Hick 1992: 7) Prior to our age, religions such as Hinduism, and Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, were generally seen as “strange and dark residues of paganism, utterly inferior to Christianity and proper targets of the churches’ missionary zeal.”1 Today, however, we have all become conscious, in varying degrees, that our Christian history is one of a number of variant streams of religious life, each with its own distinctive forms of experience, thought and spirituality. In a much greater degree, we are now more aware of our “neighbors” who belong to other great world faiths. Knowledge and information about these great religions can now be easily accessed. In big colleges and universities, we find ourselves listening to lectures on Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. Our libraries (and especially our local bookstores), on the other hand are well equipped with books about the sacred writings of great world religions. Travel opportunities have also multiplied and great number of people has spent time in India, Turkey, Egypt, Sri Lanka, and other non-Christian countries. As a result, more people have actually encountered people who actually belong to these major religions. Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus can now be encountered as “real” people in our day-to-day experiences. Such a tremendous awareness of religious pluralism is very pertinent in our time today. The question now is: how should we, as Christians Martin Buber: Interreligious Dialogue.. deal with this emerging consciousness with people of other faiths? Can we still claim that ours is “the only way”, one that possesses the “absolute Truth”? What would be the most appropriate approach to dialogue? How should we reach out to our brothers and sisters who belong to other faiths?

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