Jacques DUPUIS, Christianity And The Religions: From Confrontation to Dialogue. New York: Orbis Books, 2001. pp. 276. $30.00 pb. ISBN 1-57075-440-3.
Reviewed by Michael J. TKACIK, Providence College, Providence, RI 02918

In the Introduction of his book, Jacques Dupuis, S.J. articulates the operating principles which guide this fine work as he recognizes the ever increasing interconnectedness of all persons, an interconnectedness which demands that we allow "others" to present themselves to us as they are, not view them according to inappropriate prejudices and biases that tend to characterize our traditions (2, 6). Such a stance of openness necessitates an inductive approach to theology as well as humility (9): ...the divine mystery and the mystery of God's design for humankind are beyond any theological systematization; at every stage and in every situation, our knowledge and comprehension of that mystery remain limited, partial, and provisional (13). These principles enable one to embrace an ecumenical spirit open to other religious traditions as vehicles of divine revelation and "gestures of salvation" (14).

The book begins with an assessment of Jesus' universal inclusion of all persons into God's saving plan (22). Jesus did not seek to establish one religion at the cost of all others, but to accentuate the Reign of God which embraced all persons, and was frequently manifest in persons outside of the Jewish and Christian faith communities (24, 28). Conventional religious boundaries disintegrate vis-a- vis Jesus' teaching of the Reign of God (29). Treatment of traditional theologies follows as Fr. Dupuis moves toward consideration of Vatican II and a model of inclusive pluralism which recognizes the unfolding of salvation history within the histories of all peoples for, God has spoken to the whole of humankind, because he has offered his salvation to all its members. Revelation is universal, as is the offer of salvation (115).

As the book arrives at the crux of the issue the role of Christ in God's universal plan of salvation history there is a willingness to embrace the activity of God in the prayer, covenants and religious experiences of other traditions (100, 116, 122), qualified via the Christian perspective that all religious experiences of God's self disclosure must be interpreted vis-a-vis God's full manifestation in Christ (116, 123). Openness to the activity of God's Word, Wisdom and Spirit in other faith traditions, prior to Christ and extending beyond Christianity after Christ (69, 124, 128, 156, 181, 186, 190, 256), is tempered by assertions regarding the "fullness" of revelation in Christ (71, 129, 189, 256-258). However, the work does much to accentuate the integrity, legitimacy and authenticity of other faith traditions via asserting their autonomous and independent credibility and by rooting their veracity in the activity of God Who has sowed the seeds of His Word/Logos throughout the entire history of humanity, again, prior to and after the Incarnation. Although this Word of God is none other than the Word that assumed flesh in the person of Jesus, the revelation of Jesus does not constitute an obstacle to God's self-revelation in other religious traditions (132, 140). The universal action of the Word and the historical event of Jesus Christ are neither identified nor separated (156)... However, although Jesus does not exhaust the revelatory and salvific power of God's Word, the assertion that the Incarnation is the most profound and unique manifestation of the Word in history is maintained (158) this despite the recognition that the Word of God remains beyond whatever can be manifested and revealed in the person of Jesus, for the Word can never be exhausted by or totally contained in any single historical manifestation (159, 186, 189-190).

The book concludes with further discussion regarding Jesus as the "one mediator" of God's saving plan and other religious traditions as participating in this mediation. Particularly illuminating is the assessment of the question as it is considered in the midst of the Indian and Asian contexts. Here we discover episcopal and theological voices marked by the humility and ecumenical principles introduced in the book moving one to ever greater appreciation for the revelatory and salvific import of other religious traditions in their own right (183-185). This vision is one truly marked by an inductive approach and open experience of the "other." One can only hope that such appreciation will inspire greater interreligious dialogue and prayer called for by the author. Perhaps then a humility marked by a recognition that the divine mystery is infinitely diverse and manifold, revealed in a plethora of ways (mutually edifying and enriching), inexhaustible by any single tradition, with each tradition, in itself, salvific for it extends from and is an expression of God's will for the salvation of all, will emerge.


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