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The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, L / l

Religious Pluralism and Truth: From Theology to a Hermeneutical Dialogy

Carl A. Raschke
That primal being, God in human form, is real in this process, which shows the separation of the divine Idea and its reunion, and for the first time its completion as truth This is the whole of history -Hegel Zwischen uns sei Wahrheit Goethe

I o other issue has summoned reflection for theologians and philosophers of religion in recent years more than the diversity of "truth-claims" among the religious traditions of the world The genesis of the challenge lies in the impact of the history of religions and the sociocultural investigation of religious phenomena upon the traditional theological enterprise, which has been spurred to relinquish many of its former magisterial prerogatives in appraising the truth-content of its assertions from the standpoint of Christian exclusivism Indeed, the entry of what used to be known as "philosophical theology" into the venture of "religious studies" as an omnibus academic discipline has cast suspicion on all attempts at resolving epistemological quandaries concerning "divine" matters without the leavening at least of what has popularly come to be called "interfaith dialogue " The acknowledgment of religious pluralism as a cultural and historical fact has deepened into a more sophisticated interest in

Carl A Raschke is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Denver He is the author of five books, including The Alchemy of the Word (Scholars Press, 1979) and The Interruption of Eternity (1980) He is also co-editor of the AAR Academy Series


Carl A Raschke

the various metaphysical and semantic conflicts spawned from traditional statements about the character of God, the nature of man, and the path of salvation Yet the encounter with religious pluralism, coupled with the search for a method to work through its cognitive dilemmas, has so far resulted only in profiling the major muddles and ambiguities. As Raimundo Panikkar has observed "The present day problem of pluralism stems from a genuine experience of disorientation and chaos, and not from any merely theoretical problematic" (200) The "pluralistic problem" outdistances the venerable philosophical preoccupation with the hen kai pan It is a uniquely historical conundrum arising from the global melding of civilizations and meaningsystems, which in turn has inflicted lesions, doubts, and dissonances in what were hitherto parochially self-validating and monolithic "plausibility structures" evolved during ages of cultural isolation / I / Religious pluralism looms as a more formidable task than theological pluralism, which has been a perennial disturbance in all traditions, chiefly because it provokes tortured assessments of the "truth" and significance of foundational faithassumptions A Protestant and a Catholic, or a Barthian and a process theologian, can still concur on the priority of the Chalcedoman formula in their thinking, but they face an arduous task in negotiating any such preliminary consensus with a Moslem According to Panikkar, "a pluralistic problem arises when we do not agree regarding the very essence of what we are discussing" (220) Or, as the historian of religion R C. Zaehner has framed the difficulty, "the difference between the modern age and all preceding ages is that there is no longer any religious or even cultural norm in which man can feel at home" (1974 4). Homelessness is a more severe predicament than a house divided. Heterodoxy signals dissension; pluralism courts the peril of fragmentation. Several general strategies for grappling with religious pluralism have been essayed, although none have proven altogether satisfactory. Some of these gambits are analogous to older philosophical positions; some are distinctly contemporary. The first approach is what we might term pistic phenomenalism Pistic phenomenalism, which finds friends among analytic philosophers and historians of religion chary of too much "theorizing," attends to the creedal, doctrinal, and mythosymbolic data that can be adduced taxonomically as the central empirical features of religious "traditions." Pistic phenomenalism seeks to factor out these elements and show isomorphic differences and comparisons that may yield an intelligible content for evaluation In this connection it is pistic phenomenalism which has couched the question of religious diversity in terms of competing "truth-claims," although it is assuredly open to debate whether religious language consists in "claims" after the fashion of hypotheses or descriptive propositions / 2 / Nonetheless, such a phenomenalism invariably ends up suspending final judgment on the veracity of the cognitive isolates

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which it treats, because it is not equipped to advance any interpretations or discernments that penetrate beyond the prima facie significations of the concepts it examines The best appraisal it can muster is to flesh out particular kinds of praxis as well as belief-functions that illumine the larger religious Lebensform, as Wittgenstein employed the expression These belief-functions constitute what Ninian Smart typifies as "different sorts of religious experience which recur in different traditions, though not universally" (Hick.55)./3/ In order for these recurring "experiences" or belief-functions to be true in some definitive sense, they would have to emanate from a "common core" of understanding, which Smart does not think exists After posing the problem of religious truth, pistic phenomenalism succeeds only in circumventing it And thus it does no more than subtly elaborate the dodge pronounced by John Hick, namely, "that it is not appropriate to speak of a religion as being true or false, any more than it is to speak of a civilization as being true or false" (1973:124) The second stance toward religious pluralism we shall dub fideistic personalism. Fideistic personalism by and large bespeaks the well-known course adopted by Wilfred Cantwell Smith Smith's fideistic personalism stands in opposition to pistic phenomenalism / 4 / Smith argues that the arena for reconciling rival religious representations of truth is not the study of "beliefs," but the appreciation of "faith " / 5 / The point of departure for Smith's fideism is his avowal that "fundamentally one has to do not with religions, but with religious persons" (1964 138) Faith is the orientation of the person in his "inner life" toward the realm of "transcendence." It refers to a "personal and inner quality in the life of some men in relation to which overt observables are for those men religiously significant" (1964 155). Smith separates faith from "cumulative tradition," which comprises the sum of "overt observables" and which furnishes the subject matter for pistic phenomenalists An inventory of the items of cumulative tradition may be instrumental in phenomenological inquiry, but it does not forge a context for grappling with "truth." For "truth" is apprehended sola fide Truth stands in immediate relation with the personal faith posture, and cannot be adjudged according to public criteria / 6 / It belongs to man's evolving "self-consciousness," which in its religious instances is opened to what is originary and ultimate / 7 / Although Smith has not given serious thought to how his "personalist" (the word is his own) method might entail an actual ontology wherein the meaning of the locution "religious truth" might make eminent sense, his implication is that "faith" serves as the standard of verification for the symbols and concepts of tradition which in turn reach toward the "transcendent " Thus the semantic discrepancies between different "traditional" formulations of the faith-encounter are resolved through what he calls "imaginative" involvement in the lives of religious persons, whose habits of worship converge on a singular, yet ineffable, object of both reference and reverence The only trouble is that Smith does not really explain how this convergence


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might take place, and thus his fideistic "personalism" amounts, in fact, to a subjective atomism whose unitary principle itself is an article of faith. The third way is what we shall designate as transcendental esotericism Transcendental esotericism is an attitude toward pluralism native to the Hindu mentality, but it has of late been refined and philosophically honed in the writings of Frithjof Schuon and Huston Smith, the latter borrowing from the former Transcendental esotericism strives to overcome the diversity of religious truths by viewing them as intimations of, or emanations from, a single, supersensible reality. This reality Schuon refers to as the "esoteric" dimension of religion Huston Smith labels it the "primordial tradition " According to Schuon, all sacred phenomena express a "transcendental unity" that is obscured by adverting to their exoteric particularities For "the exoteric or theological point of view, instead of embracing a truth in its entirety, selects one aspect only as a matter of expediency and gives it an exclusive and absolute value" (1975a 119) / 8 / The esoteric unity of religious representations derives from the fact that there is, for Schuon, an "Absolute Reality" which is glimpsed relatively through the "veil of appearances " The route of access to such a Reality is not "faith," as it is for W C. Smith, but "intelligence," which probes beyond the profusion of forms and knows "truth" in its stark luminescence Since all religious symbols are inklings of this divine eminence, each is "truthful" in the measure it reflects the Ultimate. Huston Smith goes a step further in postulating a "primordial tradition," subsisting behind the effloresence of historical religions and confuting the sensate and positivist dogmas of modern science Smith seems to say straightforwardly that all religious perceptions and insinuations of the ganz anders are themselves ciphers of this tradition which is atemporal and has been summarily "forgotten" down through the ages (145) The historical religions, therefore, in varying degrees can be seen as declensions of primordial insight. The unity of religious knowledge must be secured by traversing the road back to origins. "The wave of the future will be a return to the past," although the "past" does not necessarily signify a juncture in time "For the issue does not really concern time at all; truth of the kind that is timeless" (146). Temporality is the fragmenting prism; the transcendence of time is the precondition for reunion. While transcendental esotericism has the advantage of a stated ontology that can work to smooth discrepancies between religious ideologies, it is in essence not a "solution" to the dilemma at all Instead, it asserts its own independent metaphysical claims and is tantamount to a second-order "theology" in the more capacious sense of the word Both Schuon and Huston Smith have enunciated their own versions of classic monism, embellished with Vedantist, Neoplatonic, and Advaitist notions Huston Smith's own identification of a "primordial tradition" smacks very much of theosophy. In this respect transcendental esotericism is a bogus procedure for mediation; for it commends gnosis in place of fides, and it tacitly favors contemplative over

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revealed religion. It deals as unfairly with the Western traditions as Christian scholars are frequently accused of doing with the Oriental faiths The fourth response to religious pluralism is what Panikkar has named dialogical dialogue. Panikkar apparently has coined such a pleonasm in order to discriminate his method from the familiar and sometimes fatuous appeal to simple "dialogue" between religious viewpoints In its more conventional settings interreligious dialogue congenitally becomes a mere admixture of parallel monologues, as in psychological encounter groups where the participants do not really talk to each other so much as publicize their own premises, affects, and defenses while using the discussion to clarify their individual attitudes. At the same time, Panikkar wants to preclude dialogue from becoming "dialectic"a tug-of-war between faith-postures that leads to the triumph of one perspective over the other at a higher level of definition (I suspect that such is the outcome when process theologians start "dialoguing" with Hindus and Buddhists). Panikkar calls for "dialogical tension" rather than "dialectical conflict " The tension ingredient in "dialogical dialogue" stems from the affirmation of difference, yet is safeguarded from lapsing into combative wrangling by virtue of the interlocutor's recognition of a common "center " This center is not articulated theological consensus, but one which "transcends the understanding of it by any particular member or even by the totality of the members at any given moment" (219). It coincides (though Panikkar himself does not make such a connection) with what Martin Heidegger would dub the "unthought" frontier of discourse. Such a frontier serves as a negative limit of any assertion, while in the same vein all interchanges are grounded in the faithful avowal of its presence Its apophantic character is what makes dialogue "into" truth possible. For, according to Panikkar, it is not the crystallization of a "pluralistic worldview" that conciliates the disjecta membra of pluralism. "We are pluralistic by believing that none of us possesses the philosophers' stone, the key to the secret of the world" (225). Panikkar's emphasis on the "dialogical" remedies many of the defects in the other three approaches, inasmuch as it stops short of smuggling in any metaphysical presuppositions while still managing to expound a principle of critical mediation. Nonetheless, Panikkar's program is more a profession of intent than a deliberate method. For his "dialogical dialogue" remains simply dialoguei.e., an indeterminate conversation between adherents of different faithsat the rudimentary level The danger of "dialogue" for its own sake is that it does not come to terms forthrightly with the aporia of religious pluralism itselfthe conflict of grammars and semantic valencies within the divergent "languages" of the sacred. Even Panikkar's implicit recourse to the Heideggerian ontology of unthought presence is only a proximate gesture, since even Heidegger allows for an "appropriate" manner of articulating what is inarticulate or of "saying" what has heretofore remained "unsaid " Panikkar's "dialogical dialogue," although it sweeps the ground for


Carl A Raschke

reconciliation, is bereft of any will to interpretation. And it succumbs to the paralysis of many scholarly trustees of the world's religious traditions, who succeed in preserving the integrity of classic forms, symbols, and meanings at the expense of any hermeneutical revisioning of their semantic implications, which is vital if those engaged with pluralism are to move beyond feint and posturing. Partisans of interreligious dialogue have rightly perceived that pluralism cannot be addressed by depending on any patent or ersatz theology. Yet in their renunciation of all theological or "speculative" starting points, they have been left to sojourn in the wilderness of religious historicism. Religious histoncism is that methodology which takes the stock of empirical representations compiled from the great traditions as transparent material for reflection Using historico-critical, comparative, and phenomenological methods, it endeavors to structure and thematize this material in such a way that essential relationships and broader significations can be adduced from the data at its disposal. By the same token, religious historicism self-consciously refrains from any universal or high-level generalizations concerning what might lie behind the available representations It refuses to develop its own semantics of interpretation and prefers instead to let the figurae of the traditions "speak for themselves." Any such semantic redescription of the symbols other than as a system of morphological rubrics is considered an improper exercise in "theology." For instance, such a religious historicism would immediately resist talk about common "incarnational" motifs in Christianity and Mahayana Buddhism, inasmuch as it would consign such language to a study of Christianity And it would be obliged to bracket all contentions about the "divine" reality that might be evident in both the images of the Christ and of the Boddhisattva Religious historicism will not admit of any tertium comparationis

II Nevertheless, the choice is not strictly one between a monopolistic theology and a "presuppositionless" historicism. There is another option, which does not conform straightaway to any of the more familiar treatments indicated so far Such a method is neither "theological" in the customary sense nor merely historical and comparative. It is what I shall designate as the hermeneutical path While hermeneutics has been borrowed as a reliable handmaiden to contemporary theological work and is frequently adapted in the exposition of particular traditions, it has rarely been essayed as an approach to religious pluralism itself. A suggestion for such an undertaking, of course, has already come from Mircea Eliade, who has proposed what he calls a "creative hermeneutics" of the symbolic elements in world religions / 9 / Yet Eliade's prospectus for such a hermeneutics is not sufficiently informed by careful philosophical considerations, and it is ill equipped to

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make the kinds of discriminating judgments that would be necessary to ferret out the cognitive substance of religious forms Eliade's hermeneutics remains too heavily freighted with histoncist and phenomenological considerations An authentic hermeneutics of religion in toto must consist in more than a structural exegesis of religious facts, it must penetrate beyond symbolic givens to lay bare the originary meanings that constitute ever fecund semantic potentials for interpretation In this respect such a hermeneutics seeks to bring to light not what is said, but remains unsaid in traditional religious protocols./10/ It does not succumb to an idolatry of the historical forms, but aims to give utterance to the dynamic essence of language out of which those forms crystallized In short, it labors to permit the "ancient runes" to speak with a message that has not been heard in the past Its circuit is the history of religions; its focus is a contemporary understanding not of symbols, but of truth. It does not stand at ease with any historico-critical feat of Verstehen, but only with Denken ("thinking") in Heidegger's sense Such an act of Denken is fundamentally the thinking of the "unthought," of bringing to presence as speech what has been previously concealed and dimly intimated in the multiplicity of religious representations / 1 1 / It is a thinking through neither of "God" in the theological context nor of "religions" in a historicist manner, but of what shows itself obliquely in these "objects" of formal inquirynamely, the divine. A hermeneutics of religions, therefore, performs a "theological" task, but not in the fashion routinely plied by theology as a discipline. We may recall Saint Thomas's account of theology as that "science" in which "all things are treated under the aspect of God, either because they are God Himself, or because they refer to God as to their beginning and end" (S th :1, 7) Theology per se is not hermeneutics, but a "science" which lends systematic coherence and conceptual clarity to the objective representation of the ultimatewhat in Western thought is called "God." Theology does not interpret so much as give an account Theology traffics with the pivotal symbolic forms of a tradition, but it does lend voice to the essential and originary meaningpotentials locked within those forms. It is bound by the syntactical constraints of traditional discourse Hence, it is possible to have a Buddhist theology which starts with the representation of Nirvana just as Judaeo-Christian theology homes on the "idea" of God But Buddhist and Christian theologies cannot be merged without sacrificing the supreme representation of one to that of the other A "theology" of world religions proves in the final verdict to be a contradictio in adiecto. On the other hand, a hermeneutics of religions has a definite theological dimension insofar as it takes as its subject matter theos, not in the classical sense of "God," but with regard to the archaic Greek meaning of the term as "divinity," that which "shines" or "reveals" itself from beyond the horizon of intelligible representations. A hermeneutics of religions serves to make manifest, rather than to presume fideistically, the dialogical "center" of interfaith communication which Panikkar posits. Such a


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hermeneutics does not consist strictu sensu in "dialogical dialogue," but in what I will call hermeneutical dialogy A hermeneutical dialogy transcends mere dialogue inasmuch as it is fundamentally a project of interpretative disclosure. It is not simply conversation, but an adventure with logos. It is the opening of dialogical speech to the event of presencing that activates religious language It is a clearing away of semantic space for the emergence of divine "truth" as aletheia (literally, "unconcealment") All hermeneutics constitutes an invitation to ontology. According to Richard R Palmer, hermeneutics "discloses something that was previously hidden; what was 'invisible' to one's eye is suddenly manifest and visible" (316) Just as the Greek deity Hermes was the messenger of the gods to men, so hermeneutics is a "mediation between worlds." On the semantic plane this mediation takes place between the ordinary referent of the religious expression and the yet unrealized possibility for meaning contained within it Hermeneutics taps into a deeper and richer reserve of significations than is granted through a conventional assessment of linguistic representations. It widens the parameters and integrates the different senses of what are always provisionally determined as divine showings. Hence, hermeneutics establishes a unitary and transcendental basis, without interposing metaphysical constructs, for the concert of religious truth-depositions As Ted Peters notes. "Because it is the concept of the divine in every culture that usually provides the foundational conceptuality in terms of which the rest of life is given its explanation, the study of the history of religious traditions presents itself as the most likely component within the wider field of history to provide the substance for theological reflection" (123) Peters's mistake, however, is that he sees hermeneutics as offering a "foundational conceptuality" instead of a fundamental ontology, and thereby seizes on the "divine" as a topic for theological investigation But the divine in its openness can never be shepherded by theology alone The province of such a radical hermeneutics is not theology, but dialogy. Whereas theology circumscribes the divine as a conceptual object for extended reflection, a hermeneutical dialogy cuts through all standard representations in order to speak of what remains ontologically prior to them. Although a so-called "cross-cultural" theology, if that is legitimate at all, can scarcely do more than mingle and assimilate the traditional connotations of religious symbols, a hermeneutical dialogy brings them into interpretative tension with each other, relaxes their iconic rigor, enhances their polysemic aptitude, and charts new dimensions of awareness whereby they can be gauged as tokens of an "unthought" reality, as manifestations of truth The notion of religious symbols as tokens of this order is akin to Karl Jaspers's account of "cyphers " According to Jaspers, cyphers are symbol-forms that lie "between the poles of universal, everywhere recurring types, and of historical forms" (62; Kane) They act as historical disclosures of truth in the ontological sense. They can only be apprehended in complement with what

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they manifest For "out of mere presentness speaks the hidden essence, the hidden essence makes the presentness comprehensible" (63). Together, they compose the "cypher-script of Being" Theology itself "never gets any further than an intellectual conception of the language of cyphers" (75). But "dialogy" succeeds through tension and mediation in rejoining the cyphers within a relational totality. That totality is the truth of divine fullness III Moreover, Jaspers makes the point that the image for such a reconciliation of cyphers, or what might be more properly characterized as the hermeneutical conjunction of religious symbols, is the Christian myth of incarnation. The myth of incarnation bespeaks not so much a metaphysical notion, nor a historical episode, but the ontological ground of all hermeneutical insight "That the distant God speaks in the cyphers of the world and of man and accomplishes His mediation, indicates a never-ending conceiving and realizing of man in the world and not that God has to become man in the flesh. Rightly, however, there is in the Christ myth the indication that everything human has in it the possibility of relatedness to God, God-nearness, and that the way to God goes through the world and through the reality of our historically to be determined human nature, and not by-passing the world" (77) Coincidentally, a similar thesis has been propounded by the historian of religion R C Zaehner, who over twenty years ago offered the provocative observation that "all the strands [of the varying religious traditions] . . . meet only in one place, and that is the religion of Jesus Christ" (1958:180). On first glance such an assertion gives the cloying impression of unabashed, theological imperialism; but Zaehner is not a "theologian" who begins with the presumption of sovereign Christianity and works backward to demonstrate how other traditions are flawed approximations of the one, unqualified vera religio Zaehner arrives at his conclusion through meticulous examination of the symbolic weight of non-Christian faiths Zaehner's prioritizing of the "myth of incarnation" rests on a hermeneutical inference. The myth, Zaehner declares, indicates for man "a restored union with God from whom he originated and to whom he must return" (1958:180). The goal of restored union at the incarnate level, adumbrated in the belief in resurrection, contrasts with the jiva-atman axis of mystical absorption, which comprises a regression ad initium. Thus "Jesus Christ fulfills not only the law and the prophets of Israel but also the Prophet of Iran and the sages of India" (1958. 184) Incarnation means not so much the telos of religious evolution, however, as it does the manifest logos of divine presence. It is not a theological doctrine, but a hermeneutical disposition that also informs, for instance, the avatar legends of Vaishnavite Hinduism As Charles Winquist has put it in this connection, "incarnation is the unfinished business of


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thinking" (104-5) Incarnation is "homecoming," not in the sense of a retreat to origins as transcendental esotericism would have it, but as a "re-collection of reality" that proceeds through interpretation of the sedimented layers of language and experience to expose the unthought "meaning of truth." Hence, hermeneutics as homecoming "carries us toward the future and not the past" (108). The hermeneutical dynamic leads not to the rarification of understanding but what Winquist labels the "embodiment of meaning" or "incarnate thinking." "Incarnate thinking" is another way of phrasing Heidegger's "thinking the unthought " It is not thinking about God, which is the pistic standpoint of theology, but thinking as event of divine manifestation On this score, incarnate or hermeneutical thinking transcends what Hegel described as the "representational" fixity of immediate faith It actualizes the process Hegel characterized in unfortunate metaphysical jargon as "Spirit" which "is infinite return into self, infinite subjectivity, not imagined but actual divinity, not the substantial but the present in-itself of the Father" (236) Incarnation concerns "revelation," not only in the historical mode, but in the plenary and ongoing disclosure of divine presence through the interpretative mediation of all representational contents, which at the eschatological moment show forth their infinite, but disguised essence Still, the thorough significance of "incarnational thinking" can only be grasped if we divest it of all vestigial theological implications For the end of hermeneutics, as we have said, is the truth discovered through dialogy For that reason incarnational thinking must incorporate the drift of dialogy, if it is not to be trammeled by the cryptic preconceptions of Christian theology How, then, can incarnational thinking as hermeneutical dialogy be applied as a legible praxis to the interpretation of myriad, discordant religious artifacts? We loiter at an impasse if we confine hermeneutics to the study of religious texts and canonical pronouncements, whether they are found in the impersonal depository of authorized faith or mouthed paraphrastically by devotees Hermeneutics of this kindwhich sets, in fact, the agenda for the discipline in conventional quartersadds up to nought but a nimble species of exegesis and is not amenable to the dialogical undertaking For the ipsissima verba of religion are not self-evident characters, but hieroglyphs of logos that continue to yield up the unspoken secrets of divine presencing. Genuine logos is not "grammatical" (i e , written down and encapsulated with idolatrous precision), but embodied, interpersonal It manifests itself not as a dialogue of traditions, but as a dialogue of witnesses to the holy. Dialogue, if performed with the hermeneutical attitude of openness and responsiveness to divine presence, becomes something more than an arbitration of opinions; it becomes "dialogy" in the sense of a mutual penetration of cognitive armor which leads to a bipolar manifestation of the ultimate mysterium For the "dialogical" is the embodiment, the incarnation, of logos It is the "Word

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made flesh " As Martin Buber suggests, the dialogical is appropriate "service to the logos " It empowers "the ever renewed event of the entrance of meaning into the living word" (104). The living word of dialogical relationnot between "faiths" as collective abstractions, but between the "faithful"is the sole truthbearer; it leaps across the boundaries of all "truth-claims," "faiths," and "traditions" to say what has been antecedently shrouded in the "unsaid." It does not point to the "convergence" of historical beliefs as much as their reciprocal quickening and fulfillment. In this regard hermeneutics goes beyond the bare Confucian idea of the "rectification of names." Hermeneutics is the proclamation of the advent of the Messiah. Such a hermeneutics, or hermeneutical dialogy, is at the opposite pole to transcendental esotericism. Whereas transcendental esotericism proceeds from a metaphysics of unity beyond diversity, hermeneutical dialogy is founded on the intuition of unity through diversity. The preposition "through" in this instance has a dynamic rather than a homeostatic import The unity is not conceived, but intimately signalled through the revelation of its guises. It exhibits the incarnational tension between manifest and unmanifest. To draw a Hindu parallel, we might say that its hermeneutical mode of turning toward the divine is not that of jnana, but of bhakti (not privileged "knowledge," but "devotion") /12/ Or as Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita exclaims "I see the gods in Thy body, O God" (XI, 15.56) But Arjuna is only speaking in a dialogical relation through the manifest forms of "God" with the revealing and concealing divine presence, which says: "I am the origin of all, / From me all comes forth" (X, 8:50) Of course, the noetic focus of devotion for the Bhagavad Gita is the God, whose name is Krishna In a genuine hermeneutical dialogy the divine "name" is more than that of a "God" above the other "gods " And the divine itself does not simply manifest itself in the gods of other "faiths," but in the event of presencing that arises in interpersonal co-respondence between the faithful Belief demands the adjudication of theological representations, which counts minimally as "dialogue." Faithfulness, shorn of its pistic attachments, opens itself to the unceasing activity of divine disclosure, which is hermeneutical dialogy In the words of Thoreau, "if a man have faith, he will co-operate with equal faith everywhere " This "co-operative" faithfulness is what makes the difference between resonance and cacophony.

/I/ The well-known discussion of religious pluralism and its erosion of what Peter Berger terms "plausibility structures" is found in Berger chapter 6 /2/ See Raschke, 1974 79-116 /3/ More recently, Smart has begun to talk not about "experiences" within a tradition but about a "Focus" (1973)


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/4/ See Smith's critique of analytical philosophy of religion (1977 31ff ) See also Smart's critique of Smith (1974 57f ) /5/ Smith insists that the habit of conceiving religious forms primarily as "beliefs" is "the modern West's most massive reductionism" (1979 147) /6/ Consider Smith's comment "Faith is a saying 'Yes'' to truth" (1979 163) /!/ See Smith's argument (1976158-80) /8/ Schuon's actual epistemology is worked out in (1975b) /9/ Mircea Eliade's accounts of hermeneutical method in the history of religions occur throughout his more recent writings See, among others, his discussion of hermeneutics (1969 chapter 6) /10/ See my own discussion of "radical hermeneutics" (1979 chapter 5) /ll/ Heidegger's remarks about the true meaning of "thinking" as directed toward the "unthought" appear throughout his postwar writings See especially Heidegger 1968. /12/ See R C Zaehner's central distinction between the esoteric way of religious insightpresent in Buddhism, the Upanishads, and the Sankhya systemwhich is "to imitate God in his eternity" and the incarnational attitudeevinced in Christianity and the Bhagavad Citawhich is "to imitate him in his totality" (1980 133)

Berger, Peter 1969 Bhagavad Cita, The 1964 Buber, Martin 1965 Ehade, Mircea 1969 Hegel, G W F 1965 Heidegger, Martin 1968 Hick, John 1973 The Sacred Canopy Garden City, NY Doubleday Trans Franklin Edgerton NY Harper & Row The Knowledge of Man Trans Maurice Friedman NY' Harper & Row The Quest. History and Meaning in Religion Chicago University of Chicago Press The Christian Religion Trans Peter C Hodgson Missoula, MT Scholars Press What Is Called Thinking? NY Harper & Row Philosophy of Religion Englewood Cliffs, NJ Prentice Hall

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1974 Jaspers, Karl 1959 Kane, John F 1980 Kliever, Lonnie D 1979 Palmer, Richard E 1975 Panikkar, Raimundo 1979 Peters, Ted 1978 Raschke, Carl 1974 1979 Schuon, Fnthjof 1975a 1975b Smart, Ninian 1973 1974 Smith, Huston 1976 Smith, Wilfred Cantwell 1964 1976 1977


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"Meaning and Saying in Religion Beyond Language Games " Harvard Theological Review 67 The Alchemy of the Word AAR Studies in Religion, 20. Missoula, MT. Scholars Press The Transcendent Unity of Religions Trans Peter Townsend New York- Harper & Row. Logic and Transcendence. Trans. Peter Townsend New York Harper & Row The Phenomenon of Religion New York. Herder and Herder "Truth and Religions " In Hick. 1974 Forgotten Truth New York Harper & Row The Meaning and End of Religion New York New American Library Religious Diversity New York Harper & Row. Belief and History Charlottesville. University of Virginia Press

48 1979 Thomas Aquinas S th Winquist, Charles 1978

Carl A. Raschke Faith and Belief Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press Summa theologica Homecoming. Interpretation, Transformation and Individuation AAR Studies in Religion, 18. Missoula, MT. Scholars Press The Comparison of Religion Boston Beacon Press Concordant Discord Oxford- Clarendon Press "Religious Truth " In Hick 1974

Zaehner, R C 1958 1970 1974