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Musings for a theology of dialogue: searching, encounter and conversation

Musings for a theology of dialogue: searching, encounter and conversation

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Location: Walker Room, Heythrop College

Welcome to the Michaelmas Term's Staff Research Seminar series.  This session will see Prof. Michael Barnes presenting a paper on  'Musings for a theology of dialogue: searching, encounter and conversation'.

The seminar will start at 4 pm with tea and coffee and the presentation will start at 4:30 pm.

Musings for a theology of dialogue: searching, encounter and conversation

This paper will focus around a distinction I have long found helpful and intriguing.  Is theology of religions a theology for dialogue or a theology of dialogue?  Is doing theology in a pluralist multi-religious context about clarifying principles of theological engagement or is it about properly theological attention to the experience of existing in what Buber might call ‘the between’?  The work of Jacques Dupuis fits into the former category while Raimon Panikkar is more at home in the latter.  Yet both are necessary, both are concerned with the credibility of the Church and the integrity of Christian faith.  If there is more to the theology of religions than dealing with a troublesome ‘other’, fitting the ‘non-Christian’ into a Christianity-centred scheme of things, then the retrieval of traditional wisdom has to sit alongside a richer understanding of the encounter - and what it might be saying about God.  In an obvious sense, dialogue is one more way of speaking about faith, a way often considered a form of mission appropriate for this period of post-Christendom.  And yet, to focus on the instrumental or even pastoral sense of dialogue risks missing the intrinsically theological connotations of the term.  What holds the two forms of theology of religions together is the Missio Dei, the Father’s sending of Word and Spirit for the creation and redemption of the world.  In this action of the triune God the Church glimpses a constant movement of reciprocity and interchange which flows over into the world of human experience, what Paul VI famously referred to as the ‘dialogue of salvation’ – colloquium salutis.  This paper begins with an open-ended trawl through a library and seeks to open up a conversation about conversation itself. 

Contact Name: Johannes Hoff
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