Resources for Pluralism in the Major Religions
This project is specifically about religious pluralism. It examines the resources of the major religious traditions for not merely tolerating but positively appreciating the factual diversity of religions. So far have been published: P. Schmidt-Leukel, Lloyd Ridgeon (eds.): Islam and Inter-Faith Relations, London 2007; P. Schmidt-Leukel (ed.): Buddhist Attitudes to Other Religions, St. Ottilien 2008, as well as numerous works on the pluralistic resources of Christiany (including: P. Schmidt-Leukel, Gott ohne Grenzen. Eine christliche und pluralistische Theologie der Religionen, Gütersloh 2005). The project is to be continued through further doctoral studies and conferences.
This is a major long-term project. It deals with the impact that processes of interreligious learning might have on the level of systematic theology: It is, as one of the pioneers of this line of research, W.C. Smith – founder of the Harvard Center of World Religions - once put it, the striving for a theology that is no longer the reflective expression of the faith of just a part of humanity but of the “faith of all of us”. This can be seen as the essential and forward moving thrust of “Intercultural Theology”. The more immediate objective of this project is to explore – on the basis of some pioneering work (W.C. Smith, Ninian Smart, John Hick, Keith Ward and, in Germany, Hans Martin Barth) as well as in cooperation with other researchers – how, in an initial step, Christian systematic theology can incorporate insights from other religious traditions.
In close cooperation with the European network of Buddhist-Christian Studies the Institute studies and participates in the dialog between Buddhists and Christians. Prof. Schmidt-Leukel is a founding member of the Network and is actively involved in the planning, organization and publication of the international biannual expert-conferences of the Network. The topic of the coming conference (June 2009) is: “Authority in Buddhism and Christianity”. For 2011 the plan is to hold a joint conference of the Network with the American Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies. So far, the conferences of the Network resulted in the following publications:
P. Schmidt-Leukel (ed.), Buddhist Perceptions of Jesus, St. Ottilien 2001; Christian Perceptions of the Buddha. Swedish Missiological Themes. Special Issue, 90/1 (2002); P. Schmidt-Leukel (ed.), Buddhism, Christianity and the Question of Creation, Aldershot 2006; J. D’Arcy May (ed.), Converging Ways? Conversion and Belonging in Buddhism and Christianity, St. Ottilien 2007; P. Schmidt-Leukel (ed.), Buddhist Attitudes to Other Religions, St. Ottilien 2008.
Expert-consultations on interdisciplinary issues in the science of religion / theology of religions
Together with Prof. Dr. Reinhold Bernhardt of the University of Basel/Switzerland expert-consultations on interdisciplinary issues in the science of religion / theology of religions have been held 2004 and in 2007 and are published as: R. Bernhardt, P. Schmidt-Leukel (Hg.), Kriterien interreligiöser Urteilsbildung, Zürich: TVZ 2005; R. Bernhardt, P. Schmidt-Leukel (Hg.), Multiple religiöse Identität, Zürich: TVZ 2008. Further consultations are projected .