Religious Unity Towards the Challenge of Religious Diversity

By Anne-Sophie Lamine

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #28
London School of Economics: London, England
July 14–16, 2000
(see list of papers from #28)

    Although the principle of religious unity is one of the central themes of the Bahá'í religion, few works have been carried out in order to contribute to develop a Bahá'í theology of religions, which would both develop this concept together with the concept of progressive revelation with a respectful and responsible view of other religions.

    In this contribution, these two Bahá'í concepts and the related writings will be questioned by practical experiences and theoretical reflections on interfaith dialogue, as well as the cultural and theological context.

    In a world of religious diversity, can we consider that a given religion is better than the preceding one in time? Is this vision of time and progress acceptable? Doesn't a kind of progressive revelation also occur within each revelation? Does the recognition of a further religion necessarily imply conversion to it?

    As to the principle of religious unity, it was certainly quite challenging to assert it as 'Abdu'l-Bahá did, at a time when it seemed so difficult to conceive, but to assert it now sounds more new age than thought-provoking. If one considers, respects, and even rejoices in the richness of religious diversity, isn't this concept more a mystical principle than an evidence?

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