Theological Ethics and Interreligious Relations: A Baptist Christian Perspective

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    This article offers a contribution to the ecumenical overview and exploration of issues in interreligious relations, and a theological and ecclesiological reflection upon these, that is self-consciously and explicitly from within a specific Christian confessional tradition – namely that of the Baptist tradition.

    Just as the early Baptists’ commitment to religious freedom and to an associated ecclesiology and scriptural hermeneutic challenged a totalizing religious vision of Christianity in which temporal structures were held to approximate to a divine blueprint, this article argues that such an approach presents an alternative to instrumentalization of religion in the service of politics or the state, or politics or the state in the service of religion. It emphasizes instead an understanding of the contribution to public life that service based on religious motivations can make, but as one contribution alongside others.

    The article argues that the patterns of Christendom were based on premises that are no longer pertinent to contemporary Church and society, but rooted in a context that has since been radically transformed by the twin impacts of secularization and religious plurality. In practical terms, this means it is necessary to find new ways of making a contribution to the wider society than those which rely upon the social, political, legal and constitutional institutionalization of position and role conferred by the inheritance of Christendom.

    This requires alternative theological and ecclesiological resources and it is the contention of this article that a Baptist theological and ecclesiological vision of the kind set out here can offer such resources because it makes a very basic methodological contribution that gives a far more prominent place to theological ethics than has hitherto been the case. It posits the context and content of the social and political (as well as specifically interreligious) relations of religious communities as an integral part of the central tasks of the Christian theology and practice. At the same time, rather than promoting a mere ‘adaptation’ of the Church to prevailing social trends, through its theologically rooted commitment to religious freedom it can provide an integrated theological basis for Christian attempts to engage with Europe’s ‘three dimensional’ socio-religious reality as the arena for contemporary Christian life and witness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)119-140
    Number of pages22
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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    • Theological ethics
    • Baptist ecclesiology

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Arts and Humanities(all)
    • Religious studies
    • Social Sciences(all)


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