The Religions

We are living in an era of a rediscovery of the religions. Not just ‘a religion’ but the plurality of the religions. Here in Ireland we are now living in a culture which has become more diverse from a religious and cultural perspective. On my own street I pass each day Muslims, mostly young immigrant men from North Africa. Ten years ago the street presented a wholly monocultural and monofaith appearance. The engagement with Islam has been forced upon us. But it is also welcome challenge to our own somewhat sterile Christian faith.

The new encounter with the world religions, and Islam in particular, brings with it new questions. We grew up in an era when we believed that Christianity was THE religion, in fact, if one were a Catholic, one accepted as a defining doctrine of faith that Christianity is the singular and complete divine revelation to the world. It is difficult for us to get our heads around this.

That is why it is refreshing when one comes across a Christian writer and theologian who bring some light to bear on the question of where Christianity fits with the panoply of the world religions. Just this morning, for example, I read the following passage in Cynthia Bourgeault’s in The Wisdom Jesus: “If you were to imagine the great world religions like the colors of a rainbow, each one witnessing in a particular way to some essential aspect of the divine fullness, Christianity would unquestionably hold down the corner of incarnation – by which I mean the vision of God in full solidarity with the created wolrd, fully at home within the conditions of finitude, so that form itself poses no impediment to divinity.”

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