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Religious Tolerance And Pluralism Essay

1635 words - 7 pages

Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Langdon Gilkey are religious theorists who both propose theories of pluralist religious dialogue. Their theories turn out to be quite similar, with Cohn-Sherbok’s proposal actually fitting into one of the categories Gilkey proposes. Like many other theories of religious pluralism, their ideas tend to conflict with established religious ideas and may not be feasible for actual use in interfaith conversation. However, Gilkey finally concludes that in order to figure out a pluralist model for religious dialogue, it must first be observed in practice, rather than putting forth proposals that are conflicted in reflection. In the end, the best step towards religious pluralism ...view middle of the document...

If God’s concern is for all of humankind, the revelation of God’s Will would not have been to just one group, disregarding the rest of humanity (Cohn-Sherbok, 124). In explaining this inconsistency, Cohn-Sherbok compares liberal Jewish thinkers who saw the inherent value in other religions while believing they possessed the “fullest divine disclosure”, to scientists who previously sponsored a view in which the earth is the center of the universe (Cohn-Sherbok, 124-125).
In more recent times, however, with the increased contact between religions now impossible to ignore, these beliefs are harder to support. As the final step to pluralism, Cohn-Sherbok proposes a “Copernican revolution” in the understanding of humanity’s religious experience (Cohn-Sherbok, 125). This change would put the Divine as the centerpiece of the world’s religions, rather than Judaism. This would require a shuffling from a Judeo-centric notion of religious history to the divine-centric perspective. From this starting point, each of the world’s religions would be comprehended as each community’s response to the same Divine Reality (Cohn-Sherbok, 125). Cohn-Sherbok explains this comparing each religious tradition to a path up a mountain, all of them with the same goal of reaching the Divine, floating above the peak. Each path is different in response to cultural and symbolic variations, and at times they may intersect or run parallel to another religion. But in the end the Divine reality sought after is unattainable by these many paths, as it is the ultimate—unknowable and incomprehensible (Cohn-Sherbok, 125). “On this view there is one ultimate Reality behind all religious expressions.” (Cohn-Sherbok, 125)
This pluralist model of religious conception, Cohn-Sherbok argues, provides a better understanding of the differences between religious systems as well as a better platform from which to base interreligious dialogue (Cohn-Sherbok, 125). Rather than assuming that Judaism is the center of Divine attention, Jewish inclusivists are able to engage with members of other traditions in a conversation in which they bother share a portion of the larger truth that is not longer static. “This new pluralistic model further reflects our current understanding of the world in which no truth is viewed as unchanging.” (Cohn-Sherbok, 126) This new idea of relational truth is constantly being developed and changed by religious interaction. The importance of relational truth is that it allows for each religion to have its own version that isn’t true in the universal sense, but is true “only for those who subscribe to it.” (Cohn-Sherbok, 126)
Even so, Cohn-Sherbok’s pluralist model is far from perfect. The idea of ‘many paths up one mountain’ is contrary to the fact that the Jewish belief that they are God’s chosen people, which has always been a central feature of their religion. He answers this by saying that the belief that God has chosen a certain people is just the manifestation of the...

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