Religion, in its various forms, has always exercised an extraordinary hold over the popular imagination. Now more than ever it is a topic worthy of serious scholarly study and theological reflection.
London offers unique opportunities for such study. In London are to be found representatives of nearly all the major schools of all the great religious traditions – Buddhists and Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, Baha’is and Zoroastrians, and, of course, any number of Christian churches and denominations. Many are long-established; others are made up of immigrants adjusting to life in a diaspora.
Where have these communities come from? What questions are they asking and what are the pressures they face? What are the historical and cultural shifts which have formed this complex multi-faith world? And how are Christians to understand and relate to people from so many different faith traditions?
Teaching is based on a series of two-hour weekly seminars. Each session is designed to address questions raised by the phenomenon of religious plurality in the modern world. There are also opportunities for more in-depth study through activities run by the College’s Centre for Christianity in Interreligious Dialogue and for practical experience of inter-faith relations through visits to places of worship.
Core Module: Religions in the Modern World
The course begins with a survey of the major dimensions of inter-religious engagement in the modern world with particular attention to the interface between religion and politics. Topics covered include:
-Revivalism and fundamentalism
-Secularisation and globalisation
-Spirituality and religion
-The Shoah and the legacy of anti-semitism
-Religions and the state
-Religion and the ‘clash of civilisations’
Either - Islamic Pathway
The Islamic Tradition in the Modern World
and Muslim-Christian Relations in the Modern World
The first module concentrates on the main religious themes in contemporary Islam, the second on issues whish arise from the engagement between Islam and Christianity. Among the topics covered:
-Modern trends in Islam – reform and revival
-The response of Islam to other faiths
-The prophetic role of Muhammad
-The significance of the figures of Jesus and Mary
-The significance of the Bible and Qur'an
-Problems and possibilities for the future
Or - Indian Pathway
Indian Religions – history and culture
and The Christian Encounter with Asia
The first module consists of a survey of the many dimensions of the Indian religious traditions, while the second takes up a range of theological issues which attend the dialogue with Christianity – especially:
-The construction of ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Buddhism’
-The textual tradition and forms of religious practice
-Hindu theology – Åšankara and Ramanuja
-Ashrams, mysticism and spirituality
-The Dalit movement and liberation theology
-The silence of the Buddha and the question of God
Final Core Module: Christianity in Dialogue
A more in depth discussion of major theological issues which inter-religious encounter raises for Christianity, particularly the context set by the relationship between Judaism and Christianity for inter-religious relations.
-Religious pluralism and the emergence of a theology of religions
-The Jewish matrix for Christian theology
-Church and Mission – proclamation, dialogue, inculturation
-Salvation and ‘the other’
-Christ and pluralism
-Spirit and Trinity