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Finding a Lutheran Theology of Religions: Ecclesial Traditions and Interfaith Dialogue
Mary Christine Lohr
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The question of who is participating in today’s debate around theologies of other religions is important. Religious difference and the many ways of dealing with it are issues in political, social and theological initiatives. The reality of religious plurality in daily life leaves some Christians wondering about the best way to relate to non-Christian neighbors. In light of this, a series of questions emerges about who is shaping conversations with people of other faiths and what priorities they reflect. A Lutheran voice is lacking in this debate. Despite this, there has been a wide response from other Christian traditions. In some cases denominations have raised questions of religious pluralism as a theological issue, while elsewhere individual theologians have contributed to the debate. The project that follows will examine such contributions from three ecclesial traditions (Roman Catholic, Evangelical and Protestant) and individual theologians in order to chart some common concerns in the theology of religions debate. In an effort to highlight a tradition-constituted approach to the other, connections will also be made between individuals’ positions and their ecclesial traditions. This thesis will also propose a distinctively Lutheran theology of religions first by using the works of Martin Luther to introduce the Lutheran history of engagement with non-Christians. Then, Lutheran statements and resources, partnerships and institutions will be examined to discover the ways in which the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America engages non-Christians. Finally, this project will propose crucial elements for a specifically Lutheran theology of religions. These elements will be put in conversation with individual Lutheran theologians who have made contributions to the debate. Ultimately a theology of kinship will emerge. Using distinctively Lutheran themes, this theology recognizes a connection between all people and calls Lutherans to live in kinship with the religious other.
PhD in Theology