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The New Universalism: Foundations for a Global Theology.

The author of this book currently holds a teaching appointment at the theological faculty in Lucerne, Switzerland. Much of the contents had previously appeared in German publications, a fact that may account for the highly abstract language commonly used.

The book is intended to set philosophical foundations for a new theology of religions. This the author attempts to do with in-depth analyses--much too long and unduly repetitive, although correct--of the thought of Paul Tillich, Raimundo Panikkar, and the later Ludwig Wittgenstein. Krieger distills and expands their thought into the following conclusions: The present dilemma posed for Christian theology by the plurality of religions in the world is that, for fair-minded persons, each has as much right as any other to answer the basic questions of human existence. A solution must therefore begin with the opening and crossing of mental boundaries. This specifically means withdrawal from absolutization of previous beliefs (as verbal constructs). By connecting this approach with the thought/practice of Mohandas K. Gandhi, specifically the pragmatics of nonviolence, Krieger affirms the possibility of continuity, of remaining faithful to the essence of one's beliefs and yet open to their possible correction and "recreation" through a deep common accord and universal discourse.

Krieger's methodology, however, is in the final analysis more religious than philosophical. He redefines philosophy as intercultural hermeneutics and insists that the intercultural understanding properly implied in its work is essentially related to transcendence and its language, as universal, is religious. Krieger would lead us toward a mentality/praxis that is primarily a search for truth but will produce a "new myth" that can encompass all parties in dialogue. The author's intent is noble, but a major weakness of the work is its lack of specifics, with reference either to transcendence or to religio-ethical quality. For criteria he seems solely dependent upon Gandhi's satyagraha.

Richard H. Drummond, former Presbyterian fraternal worker in Japan, is Professor of Ecumenical Mission and History of Religions, Emeritus, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.
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Author:Drummond, Richard H.
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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