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How Is Religious Dialogue Possible? Reflections on the Methodology of Comparative Religion

China Social Science Review

No.2, 2020

 

How Is Religious Dialogue Possible? Reflections on the Methodology of Comparative Religion

(Abstract)

 

Feng Zilian

 

The comparative religion proposed by Max Müller attempted to make an impartial and truly scientific comparison of different religions that would allow studies of religion to throw off the fetters of Western theology and become a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary and comprehensive modern discipline. After nearly a century and a half of vigorous development, comparative religion has moved on to the practice of religious dialogue, giving rise to different views of dialogue such as exclusivism, syncretism and pluralism. To a certain extent, comparative theology is still rooted in the specific position of certain religious traditions which use opening and commitment to enlist other religions as resources to enrich and update their own religious traditions. The original intention of the comparative study of religions was not only to ensure the objectivity and neutrality of religious comparisons, but also maintain appreciation and respect for different religious traditions by introducing modern scientific concepts.