Legitimizing and necessitating inter-faith dialogue: the dynamics of inter-faith for individual faith communities

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In an age in which religion is a burning issue in the geopolitical sphere, the need for peoples of different religions to engage in inter-faith dialogue may seem clear; what is less clear is whether there is legitimacy for and an imperative to members of individual faith communities to engage with the religious other on the exclusive grounds of their individual faith. This article thus seeks to advocate that theology done in the service of individual faiths needs, as a priority, to engage in legitimizing and necessitating dialogue with the religious other as the religious other. The article considers the grounds on which exclusivist religious people can undertake inter-faith dialogue. In looking to the need to attend to particularity and the genuine otherness of the religious other, the article advocates that faiths should begin to understand what is internal to their traditions that makes inter-faith dialogue a necessity for intense and particular religious self-identity. Members of faith communities need to be legitimated on terms internal to their community and by leaders of their community to engage in dialogue with the other: they need to know not only how to engage with the other but also why they engage with the other. In considering the particular tradition of Christianity, the article attends to these themes by seeking hints from Scripture and Christ that a Christian should engage with the religious other in order to be more intensely Christian.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-211
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Public Theology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • scriptural reasoning
  • inter-faith
  • pluralism
  • particularity
  • exclusivism


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