Interfaith dialogue is based on the premise that there is more that unites than divides us. Epistemological humility, acceptance of religious plurality or the need for unity itself have all been presented as unifying pathways across disparate religious traditions. Despite such approaches, conceptual understandings of interfaith dialogue have not kept pace with practice. This theoretical paper argues that interfaith dialogical theory profits from a deep understanding of moral psychology and social learning theory. The former posits that a sense of ‘fairness’ and ‘universal care’ are aligned with religious acceptance. On the other hand, values of sanctity, loyalty and authority promote a sense of religious conservatism thereby hindering liberal ideals around plurality and acceptance. The latter suggests that it is first and foremost the exploration of difference, not similarity, which provides the tension to question our preconceived moral values and constructions and thereby move to more inclusive ones. Through contextualising these theories within the reflective spaces at the borders of interfaith dialogue, this paper suggests that bridging difference does not lie in making religious comparisons but rather in accepting religious ambiguity in pursuit of truth. The burgeoning area of comparative theology offers both theoretical and practical guidance for embracing religious diversity in a multi-religious world.
"Interfaith Dialogue and Comparative Theology: A Theoretical Approach to a Practical Dilemma,"
The Journal of Social Encounters:
Available at: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/social_encounters/vol3/iss1/8