Academic Programs 

Learning from Others: Sorting Out Your Theology in an Interfaith Environment (TH-690)
Summer 2004

The vast majority of religious people draw upon one religious tradition to shape their beliefs about life and practice. Yet theoretically many people believe that there is much insight and wisdom in other religious traditions.  In this course, we attempt to construct our theology consciously in conversation with other religious traditions.  Four major areas are explored: revelation, human nature, creation, and society.  In each case we will struggle with major thinkers in each tradition, looking with care at the underlying structure of belief, the differences and similarities across traditions, and whether or not this or that insight can be accommodated into our own personal theological project.   and 

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Monday, June 21 – Friday, June 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ian Markham
Professor of Theology and Ethics

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9500

Keith Ward
Adjunct Professor of Interfaith Theology and Regis Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford, England

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9500


  1. To reflect on the task of comparative theology and in particular determine whether it is legitimate exercise for a Christian.
  2. To explore a small number of case studies.
  3. To encourage students to take seriously the wisdom in other faith traditions when shaping their own personal theological project.

Learning outcomes

  1. To have a view on the legitimacy or otherwise of comparative theology
  2. To have an understanding of the views of a number of faith traditions on a small number of topics.
  3. To have thought through the implications of religious diversity for one’s own faith.


Keith Ward, The Case for Religion (Oxford: Oneworld 2004)

Ian Markham, A Theology of Engagement (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing 2003) chapters 1 & 3.

Pre-course exercise:

Five page doubled spaced book review of Keith Ward, The Case for Religion. 

Course breakdown:

Monday June 21:

Morning: Input session: Comparative Theology: what is it?  Is it OK for Christians to learn from those who are not saved through Christ?


Afternoon: Input session: Revelation: how do we know which book is the revelation from God?


Tuesday June 22:

Case Study 1: Learning from Science.

We start the process of learning from others by engaging with the scientific narrative.  What are the implications of the new physics for our worldview?

Wednesday June 23:

Case Study 2: Different views of society.

Some Muslims want an Islamic state; the BJP are arguing for Hindutva; others are committed to the separation of church and state.  How do we start a conversation around the crucial question of social organization?

Afternoon: Discussion of the book reviews.

Thursday June 24:

Case Study 3: Different views of life after death.

Reincarnation, rebirth, heaven, hell, or nothing.  Which is it?

Friday June 25:

Putting it all together.  Do you just end up muddled and confused at the end of the process?



  • One 5-page doubled space book review of Keith Ward’s In defense of religion.  (To be handed in on Wednesday June 23)
  • One 15-page research paper which takes one issue from a range of different vantage points.  Possibilities include: science, life after death, society, women, nature of God, nature of revelation, views of personhood, ethical issues, and religious organization. (To be handed in on August 10)


Sample bibliography

Burrell, David B.  Knowing the Unknowable God. Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas, (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press 1986).

Burrell, David.  ‘Aquinas and Islamic and Jewish thinkers’ in Norman Kretzmann and Eleonore Stump  (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1993).

Gandhi, M. K.  An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, trans., Mahadev Desai, (Boston, Beacon Press, 1957.)

Iqbal, Allah Muhammad. The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam  (Lahore: Institute of Islamic Culture 1999)

Larson, Gerald James.  India’s Agony Over Religion, (Delhi, Oxford University Press 1997).

Lipner, Julius.  Hindus. Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, (London, Routledge, 1994).

Lochhead, David.  The Dialogical Imperative, (Maryknoll New York, Obris books, 1988).

Nursi, Bediuzzaman Said. Volume 1 to 4 of  the Risale-I Nur Collection (Istanbul: Sözler Nesriyat, Ticaret ve Sanayi, A. S. 1992).

Percy, Martyn. Salt of the Earth. Resilience in a secular age (London: Sheffield Academic Press 2002).

Ward, Keith.  Images of Eternity. Concepts of God in Five Religious Traditions, (London, Darton, Longman and Todd, 1987).

Ward, Keith. Rational Theology and the Creativity of God, (Oxford: Blackwell 1982)

Ward, Keith. A Vision to Pursue, (London: SCM Press 1991).

Ward, Keith.  Divine Action (London: Collins 1990)

Ward, Keith. Religion and Revelation (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1994).

Ward, Keith.  Religion and Creation  (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996).

Ward, Keith.  Religion and Human Nature  (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1998)

Ward, Keith.  Concepts of God (Oxford: Oneworld Press 1998)

Ward, Keith.  Christianity: a Short Introduction  (Oneworld Press 2000)

Ward, Keith.  Religion and Community  (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2000)  

Ward, Keith.  God: A Guide to the Perplexed  (Oxford: Oneworld 2003)


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500