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The Salvation of Non-Christians: Studies in the Theology of Religions*
In the light of the multi-religious and multi-faith worldly context wherein we live today, the questions of how the Christians view other religions and how they view God’s stance on other faiths become of a crucial importance and primary relevance. This course attempts, first, to introduce students to the main exclusivist, inclusivist, and pluralist trends of thought on other religions within the field of study called “theology of religions.” Second, it takes them more specifically into the question of the salvation of the non-Christians and explores with them a possible pneumatological-trinitarian hermeneutics of Christian soteriology that endeavors to exceed the theologically narrow, and seemingly inter-religiously controversial boundaries of Christocentric theology.
May 20, 22, 24, 29, and June 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, evenings, from 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
At the end of the course the students would:
- acquire knowledge of the basic components of the exclusivist, inclusivist and pluralist approaches in this field of study.
- analyze and perceive the core argument of every approach in the field
- would be exposed to parallel approaches to other religions in Islam and see how the trends of exclusivity, inclusivity and plurality find traces in a non-Christian thought
- would practice, by means of the presentations and the term papers, an attempt to present some theology of religions’ discourses to religious communities or lay audiences in an accessible and relevant manner.
I- Week One:
1) Monday, 20 May. 2013
Session (1): Introducing the Course (lecture)
Session (2): What is Theology of Religions (1) (lecture)
[R.R: V-M. Kӓrkkӓinen, Introduction to the Theology of Religions, pp. 17-29]
2) Thursday, 23 May. 2013
Session (3): What is Theology of Religions (2) (lecture)
[R.R: J. Dupuis, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism, pp. 1-23]
Session (4): Religious Plurality in the Bible (1) (lecture)
[R.R: V-M. Kӓrkkӓinen, Introduction to the Theology of Religions, pp. 33-51]
II- Week Two:
3) Monday, 28 May. 2013
Session (5): Religious Plurality in the Bible (2) (lecture)
[R.R: J. Dupuis, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism, pp. 29-52]
Session (6): A Brief Display of the Christian Idea of Salvation (lecture)
4) Thursday, 30 May. 2013
Session (7): Exclusivism (1): Early Church Fathers (presentation)
[R.R: Cyprian, Letters (1-81), in The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 51, Lt. 73]
Session (8): Exclusivism (2): St. Augustine (presentation)
[R.R: St. Augustine, Letters, in The Fathers of the Church, Lt. 102]
III- Week Three:
5) Monday, 3 June. 2013
Session (9): Exclusivism (3): Karl Barth (presentation)
[R.R: K. Barth, Church Dogmatics, I/2, pp. 283-285; 294-303; 308-309; 314-315; 323-328;344-359]
Session (10): Theology of religions Outside Christianity? Examples from Islam (lecture)
[R.R: J. Waardenburg, Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions, pp. 3-17]
6) Thursday, 6 June. 2013
Session (11): Inclusivism (1): The Second Vatican Council (presentation)
[R.R: Pope Paul VI, “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions,” and “Decrees on the Missionary Activity of the Church,” in The Teachings of the Second Vatican Council]
Session (12): Inclusivism (2): Karl Rahner (presentation)
[R.R: K. Rahner, “Anonymous Christian,” in Theological Investigations, Vol. 6, pp. 390-398; and Rahner, Foundations of Christians Faith, pp. 311-321]
IV- Week Four:
7) Monday, 10 June. 2013
Session (13): Inclusivism (3): Paul Tillich (presentation)
[R.R: P. Tillich, Christianity and the Encounter of the World Religions, pp. 27-51; and Tillich, The Future of Religions, pp. 80-94]
Session (14): Inclusivism (4): Clark Pinnock (presentation)
[R.R: C. Pinnock, A Widness in God’s Mercy, pp. 17-48, 149-184]
8) Thursday, 13 June. 2013
Session (15): Inclusivism Outside Christianity? Examples (presentation)
(6:00-7:15pm) from Islam
[R.R: al-Ṭabarī, The Book of Religion and Empire, A. Mingana (edi.), pp. 1-19, 162-169; and M. Ayoub, “Religious Pluralism in the Qur’an,” in Contemporary Approaches to the Qur’an and Sunna, pp. 39-53]
Session (16): Pluralism (1): John Hick (presentation)
[R.R: J. Hick, The Metaphor of God Incarnate, pp. 89-111, 134-139; and Hick, A Christian
Theology of Religions, pp. 11-30]
V- Week Five:
9) Monday, 17 June. 2013
Session (17): Pluralism (2): Raimundo Pannikkar (presentation)
[R.R: R. Pannikkar, “The Jordan, the Tiber and the Ganges: Three Kairological Moments of Christic Self-Consciousness,”in The Myth of Christian Uniqueness, J. Hick & P. Knitter (eds.), pp. 89-116]
Session (18): Plauralism (3): Paul Knitter (presentation)
[R.R: Knitter, No Other Name?, pp. 171-186, 197-203; and Knitter, Jesus and the Other Names, pp. 154-164]
10) Thursday, 20 June. 2013
Session (19): Toward a Pneumatico Trinitarian Theology of Religions: Assessment and Proposal (lecture)
Session (20): Trinitarian Inclusivism: Gavin D’Costa (presentation)
[R.R: D’Costa, TheMeeting of Religions and the Trinity, pp. 99-142; and D’Costa, “Christ, the Trinity and Religious Plurality,” in Christian Uniqueness Reconsidered, D’Costa (ed.), pp. 16-29]
VI- Week Six:
11) Monday, 24 June. 2013
Session (21): Pneumatic Inclusivism: Amos Yong (presentation)
[R.R: Yong, Beyond the Impasse, pp. 13-56; and Yong, The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh, pp. 81-120, 235-266]
Session (22): Pneuamtico-Trinitarian Inclusivism: Najeeb Awad (presentation)
[R.R: Awad, “Theology of Religions, Universal Salvation and the Holy Spirit,” in Journal of Pentecostal Theology, 29(2011), pp. 252-271; and Awad, “Extra trinitate nulla Salus: A Comparison between the Trinitarian and the Christological Language in Scripture,” in Theological Review , 32, 2011, pp. 125-152]
12) Thursday, 27 June. 2013
Session (23): Salvation and the Spirit Outside Christianity? Examples from Islam (Yahya Michot)
- Session (24): Conclusion & Evaluation
Course Requirements and Assessment Expectations
1) Assigned readings’ preparation and active class participation: Students are required to read these texts as thoroughly and perceptively as they can and then to demonstrate an active class participation by coming to the sessions with questions or comments on them and the taught materials therein.2) Presentations: the students are required to prepare a presentation on one of the listed topics in the course’s outline. The instructor would ask the students to sign in for the required presentations during the first introductory session of the course. The presentation must be no more than 45 minutes long. The second 45 minutes or so of the session would be spent in open discussion between the presenter and the classmates over the texts’ contents and aspects related to their subjects. The students are free to use any audio-visual or material they find useful in performing their presentations. Every presenter must:
A- present the content of the readings perceptively and coherently and to make sure that every main argument in the texts have been given fair presentation before his/her class-mates.
B- give his/her own appraisal and point of view on the text’s subject and claims.
C- attend to the questions of the classmates in a way that would invite for further discussion.
3) Term Papers: students are expected to write 10- 12 pages-long papers (foot/endnotes, bibliography, outlines, are excluded). Every student is to imagine that he or she was invited to read an essay/give public lecture to a church/religious community or lay religious audiences on the theology of religious approach he or she made a presentation on. Every essay must:
A- introduce lucidly and correctly the field of study called ‘theology of religions’
B- present in a lucid and interesting way a specific theology of religions’ approach (i.e. of the scholar which the student already made the presentation on)
C- displays the importance/problematic influences of this approach and its relevance/irrelevance and validity/invalidity in today’s human religious life.
The students must submit their essays to the instructor at the last session of week Six
1- reading’s preparation and class
2- presentations: (35%)
3-Term Papers: (50%)
Students are graded using the A, B, C, or F system, with “+” and “–” markings allowed. For purposes of this course, these grades mean:
A Exceptional in several or most ways; completes all tasks, is creative and even original in content, and displays mastery of expression.
B Adequate in all basic ways; parts of the task are slighted, the content has minor weakness, and expression is competent yet not compelling.
C Inadequate in some ways; does not address significant tasks, shows weak or erroneous content, and expression sometimes obstructs understanding.
Auditors are welcome to participate in discussion and assignments to the degree they wish and should clarify their intent with the instructor, but their work will not be graded.
1) Attendance: Attendance in class is required. If you know you will be unable to attend a class session please inform the professor in advance. Missing two sessions will result in an automatic lowering of your final grade by 10%. Missing three or more sessions will result in automatic failure of the course.
2) Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the failure to give proper credit for the words or ideas of another person, whether published or unpublished, and is strictly prohibited. Credit will not be given for written work in this course containing plagiarism, and plagiarism may result in a failing grade for the entire course. Please consult the Plagiarism Policy on pp. 56-57 of the Hartford Seminary Catalogue 2011-2012, and/or contact the instructor with questions in this regard.
- Required Readings During the Course’s Sessions:
Parts of chapters or essays are going to be read, studied and presented by the students from these books during the sessions. The texts that are available in the library would be availed to the students on the course’s shelf in the library. Other texts that are not available in the library would be provided by the instructor in hard copies form, and they would also be placed on the course’s shelf in the library. The students are encouraged, before and during the course, to acquaint themselves with one of the following basic introductory texts on the subject. They texts are not required, yet highly recommended
D’Costa, Gavin. The Meeting of religions and the Trinity, Mayknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000.
Dupuis, Jacques, SJ. Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1997.
Hick, John. A Christian Theology of Religions: The Rainbow of Faiths, Louisville, Ken: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995.
Kärkkäinen, Veli-Matti. An Introduction to the Theology of Religion: Biblical, Historical and Contemporary Perspectives، Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press، 2003.
Knitter, Paul F. Introducing Theologies of Religions, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2005.
Sullivan, Francis A, S.J. Salvation Outside the Church? Tracing the History of the Catholic Response, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002.
Waardenburg, Jacques (ed.), Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions: A Historical Survey, New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.