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[T]here are several different ways in which people of different religions may relate to each other. Diana Eck is one of the scholars who have observed that there are three responses to contact between religions.
One is exclusivism: “Ours is the only true way.” Eck and others have noted that deep personal commitment to one’s faith is a foundation of religious life and also the first essential step in interfaith dialogue.
Baha'i IconEck sees the second response to interfaith contact as inclusivismThis may take the form of trying to create a single world religion, such as Baha’i. Or it may appear as the belief that our religion is spacious enough to encompass all the others, that it supersedes all previous religions, as Islam said it was the culmination of all monotheistic traditions. In this approach, the inclusivists do not see other ways as a threat. Some Sikhs, for instance, understand their religion as actively promoting interfaith appreciation and thus propose that their holy scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, could serve as a roadmap to harmony among people of all religions, without denying the right of each religion to exist as a respected tradition.
The third way Eck discerns is pluralism: to hold one’s own faith and at the same time ask people of other faiths about their path, about how they want to be understood. Uniformity and agreement are not the goals — the goal is to collaborate, to combine our differing strengths for the common good. From this point of view, for effective pluralistic dialogue, people must have an openness to the possibility of discovering sacred truth in other religions. (Living Religions, 504-5)
Diana Eck's Pluralism Project
Reflection Paper Icon
Diana Eck speaks of three responses to religious diversity: exclusivism,” “inclusivism,” and “pluralism.” Identify the response that most closely approximates your own perspective on religious diversity and then explain at least one way that the course has helped you develop your perspective on the issue.
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All religions meditate on the Source. And yet, strangely, religion is one of our greatest divides. If the Source be the same, as indeed it must be, all of us and all religions meditate on the same Source.
(Wangari Maathai: Living Religions, 507)
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