The Third Copernican Revolution:
"Transparent Dialogue and Relational Theology" — Unity and Diversity and The Development of a Global Vision of God's Relationality

By Christopher Jones

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #20
Louhelen Bahá'í School: Michigan, USA
October 9–12, 1998
(see list of papers from #20)

    This paper is in two parts. The first part is a reflection on praxis and seeks to examine elements of inter-religious dialogue from a Bahá'í perspective. It focuses on both practical and theoretical insights gained while completing a theology degree as a Bahá'í in a completely Christian environment.

    It is proposed that opening ones self to the "other" in authentic and genuine dialogue acts as a radical catalyst which matures and deepens not only our own empathy and understanding of another tradition, but greatly deepens the understanding of our own traditions. It is proposed that this is at the heart of facilitating "unity in diversity in the context of both inter-religious and multicultural" challenges.

    The characteristics indicative of the nature of such a catalytic form of genuine and authentic dialogue will be discussed.

    The second part of this paper represents a potentially radical reappraisal of pluralism and the kernel of a new paradigm of theological consultation between the worlds religions.

    It is proposed that currently, Bahá'í scholarship is much too parochial and self-reflective. It will be argued that a radical shift is necessary for the authentic development of Bahá'í theology.

    It will be briefly illustrated how each religions theology (or theologies) is contextual. Primarily focusing on how each revelation's theology" is partly an moderation and correction of the extremes of the current state of theological development of its time. Using Bahá'í hermeneutics it will be illustrated that each religions theology has a unique truthful perspective about the relationality of God's Being which must be earnestly sought out in consultation, particularly in this stage of religious evolution, in order for a holistic global theology to come of age.

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