My Journey as a Religious Pluralist: A Christian Theology of Religions Reclaimed by Alan Race

My Journey as a Religious Pluralist: A Christian Theology of Religions Reclaimed – Alan Race
Published by: Eugene, Oregon: Resource Publications, 2021

Review by: The Rev’d Dr. Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar
Global Theologian with USPG & Associate Tutor at Ripon College, Cuddesdon

Few theologians have approached the many questions and challenges that religious plurality poses for Christian theologies of religions with such honesty and depth as Alan Race. Never the one to dodge difficult questions, Race has both problematised as well as probed, with passion and profundity, a wide-range of themes and questions that are concomitant to Christian understanding and engagement with other religions. This particular collection of essays brings some of Race’s contributions stretching across thirty years in a ‘loose systematic format’ all bound together (literally) by Race’s conviction that “time can occasionally play tricks, such that earlier arguments when revisited later in the day can seem as fresh as when they were first formulated” (p.xx).

Divided into four helpful parts the book begins with a section on ‘Critical Foundations’. The section highlights the inevitability of a hermeneutical posture that is marked by both inventiveness and  tentativeness for Christian faith to embrace ‘a dialogical future’ in constructive interaction with historical change. The second of the two essays in this section deconstructs the idea of tradition as a fixed marker of identity, lifting up the multiply-constituted nature of human identities. Race’s observation that “we have historically in Christian tradition not so much a fugue with a strong recurring theme as a medley of variations, perhaps even enigma variations”(p.30) is a telling reminder of the empirical untenability of dominant notions of tradition as ‘fixed’. The critical potential of such deconstruction in a global context where ‘rigid’ notions  of identity are invoked to add venom  to virulent, and often violent, nationalisms cannot be undermined.

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