Dialogues and Conflicts among Religious People

Addressing the Relevance of Interreligious Dialogue to the Common Public

by Kizito Chinedu Nweke (Author)
©2017 Thesis 360 Pages


Dialogues and conflicts have become related topics. With all the resources, academic, financial and religious, interreligious dialogue is yet to achieve the expectations of peace among religious people. Searching through the works of many thinkers, from Plato, Rousseau, Buber and Bohm through de Chardin, von Balthasar, Rahner and Daniélou to Tracy, Jeanrond and Moyaert, this study discovers the missing link between interreligious dialogues and its practicability in the public, and proffers solutions.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Abbreviations
  • General Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Limitations
  • Structural Resumé
  • Chapter One. Dialogue: A General Overview
  • 1.1 The Concept of Dialogue
  • 1.1.1 Problem-Formulation and Solving-Dimension
  • 1.1.2 Interactive-Dimension
  • 1.1.3 Synthesis-Dimension
  • 1.2 Nature and Metamorphosis of Dialogue
  • 1.2.1 Relational-communicative Phase
  • 1.2.2 Philosophical Phase
  • 1.2.3 Public relational Phase
  • 1.2.4 One-way conversationalist Phase
  • 1.3 Selected historical References to Dialogue
  • 1.3.1 Plato’s distinctive Relevance to Dialogues
  • 1.3.2 Rousseau’s distinctive Relevance to Dialogue
  • 1.3.3 Buber’s distinctive Relevance to Dialogue
  • 1.3.4 Bohm’s distinctive Relevance to Dialogue
  • 1.4 Purposes of Dialogue
  • 1.4.1 Dialogue as a Goal in itself
  • 1.4.2 Dialogue for Unity
  • 1.4.3 Dialogue for Communication
  • 1.4.4 Dialogue for Globalisation
  • Chapter Two. On Interreligious Dialogue
  • 2.1 The Question of interreligious Dialogue
  • 2.1.1 What is Religion
  • 2.1.2 Different Concepts of Religion
  • Judaism
  • Islam
  • Buddhism
  • 2.1.3 Dialogue among Religions
  • Ontological Category
  • Structural Category
  • Exterior Category
  • 2.2 Addressing Interreligious Dialogue from a Christian (Catholic) Perspective
  • 2.2.1 Clarification of Terminologies
  • 2.2.2 Meaning of interreligious Dialogue from a Christian Perspective
  • Interreligious Dialogue as Enhancement of human and religious Integrity
  • Interreligious Dialogue as Incorporation of Multi-Religions
  • Interreligious Dialogues as Hermeneutics of Religions
  • Interreligious Dialogue as a Forum of Evangelisation and/or Conversion
  • Synthesising the Meanings of Interreligious Dialogue
  • Religious Difference
  • Non-Religious Difference
  • Interreligious Dialogue and the Academia
  • The ultimate Aim of interreligious Dialogue
  • 2.3 Developments of interreligious Dialogue in Christianity
  • 2.3.1 The Crusade Saga
  • 2.3.2 The Revolutions of the Reformation
  • 2.3.3 The Effects of Colonisation
  • 2.3.4 The 11th-September-2001 World Trade Centre Attack
  • 2.4 The Challenges of interreligious Dialogue in Christianity
  • 2.4.1 The inner Crisis of Christianity: Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Ur von Balthasar, Karl Rahner and Jean Cardinal Danielou
  • 2.4.2 Popes on interreligious Dialogue: John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis
  • 2.4.3 Tolerance of Paradox
  • 2.4.4 Imbalance of the dialogic Power
  • 2.5 Different Perspectives of interreligious Dialogue
  • 2.5.1 Exculsivism
  • 2.5.2 Inclusivism
  • 2.5.3 Pluralism
  • 2.5.4 Transformationalism
  • 2.6 Interreligious Dialogue Clarified
  • 2.6.1 Interreligious Dialogue for Christians
  • Distinctiveness of Christianity
  • 2.6.2 Inadequacy of interreligious Dialogue
  • Chapter Three. The Common Public: Religious and Non-Religious
  • 3.1 Understanding the Public
  • 3.1.1 Who and where is the Public
  • 3.1.2 Kinds of Public
  • Homogenous Public
  • Heterogeneous Public
  • 3.1.3 Reciprocity of the Public
  • 3.2 Status quo of interreligious Dialogue in the Public
  • 3.2.1 The State of interreligious Dialogue Today
  • The proliferated Developments in structured interreligious Dialogues
  • Urgency of Peace
  • The Esteem of interreligious Dialogue as a Discipline
  • The academic Benefits
  • 3.2.2 The practical Incongruities and Tendencies of Intolerance
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Nigeria
  • 3.3 Differences in cultural Backgrounds towards interreligious Relationship
  • 3.3.1 The Western World and ‘Irreligiosity’: Germany as a Case Point
  • New-age Spiritualities/ Esoteric Spirituality
  • Effects of the Western Public to interreligious Dialogue
  • 3.3.2 African Religious World: Igbo Culture as a Case Point
  • Religious Syncretism
  • Effects of African Public to Interreligious Dialogue
  • 3.4 The public and interreligious Dialogue
  • 3.4.1 Relevance of interreligious Dialogue to the Public
  • Concerns over the Relevance of Religion
  • Conquering religious Disparities and Conflicts
  • Provision of spiritual Satisfaction and Enrichment of Knowledge
  • The Principle of Unification as a Solution
  • Socio-political Usages of Cultural Heritage
  • Esteemed social, cultural and academic Significance
  • 3.4.2 Social Theories of Religiousity
  • Religion-Market Model
  • Secularisation Hypothesis
  • Difficult-Dependent Model
  • 3.4.3 Interreligious Dialogue and public Ethics
  • 3.4.4 Effects of religious Disharmony to non-religious People
  • Chapter Four. The Tension of Practicability between interreligious Dialogue and the Public
  • 4.1 Practicability of interreligious Dialogue
  • 4.1.1 Phases of interreligious Dialogue
  • Among Religions
  • Between Religion and the Public
  • 4.1.2 The Search and Review of the missing Link between interreligious Dialogue and the Public
  • 4.2 Tensive dialogic Issues in public religious Relationship
  • 4.2.1 Novelty in Life
  • 4.2.2 Patriotism
  • 4.2.3 Spontaneity
  • 4.2.4 Common Ground
  • 4.2.5 The Case of Westernisation and Proselytism
  • 4.3 Current Challenges to the Practicalisation of interreligious Dialogue
  • 4.3.1 Religious Plurality and cultural Diversity
  • 4.3.2 Official Christian interreligious Teachings
  • 4.3.3 Religious Ignorance in interreligious Relationships
  • 4.3.4 Religious Education and its Methodology
  • 4.3.5 Religious Supremacy/Centralism
  • 4.3.6 Evangelism/Evangelisation
  • The Case of the New-Evangelisation in interreligious Relationship
  • 4.3.7 New Perspective of Intolerance
  • Chapter Five. The Imperative of Practicability: The Model of Mutual Enrichment and other Solutions
  • 5.1 Success and Failures
  • 5.1.1 Tracy’s interreligious Dialogue of the ‘Impossible’
  • 5.1.2 Jeanrond’s Hermeneutics of Love
  • 5.1.3 Moyaert’s interreligious Hospitality
  • 5.2 Historical Insights
  • 5.2.1 Biblical Context
  • The Creation Account
  • The Tower of Babel
  • The Pentecost
  • 5.3 Search for Solutions
  • 5.3.1 The Notion of interreligious Dialogue as a Solution
  • Interreligious Dialogue as a Public Value
  • The Place of Religion in interreligious Dialogue
  • 5.3.2 The Notion of Truth as a Solution
  • 5.3.3 The Notion of Peace as a Solution
  • Peace in ‘Irreligiosity’! A confronting Irony
  • Religiosity or ‘Irreligiosity’ – A Guarantor of Peace?
  • 5.4 Structural Solutions
  • 5.4.1 Model of mutual Enrichment
  • The Reduction of Religions
  • 5.4.2 Model of Prevention as a Solution
  • 5.4.3 Model of Communication as a Solution
  • General Conclusion
  • Bibliography

← XIV | XV →

List of Abbreviations

← XVI | XVII →

General Introduction

It was D’Costa who categorically made the claim on interreligious dialogue that “it is difficult to think of a more important question facing Christianity in the twenty-first century.”1 The veracity of this statement is not dismissive, and its authenticity is equally evident even from the twentieth century. Consequently, a considerable academic effort, financial supports, political campaigns, cultural promotions, economic endeavours, etc. have all been deployed in the sphere of dialogue, and especially interreligious dialogue. Apparently, no other human sphere has been so incessantly and violently incriminated in the squabbles of detrimental heights like religion. Somehow, dialogue, as opposed to nationalism and regionalism, or other hitherto means of relationship among human beings, has attracted the conviction of the era. The reasons for this are complex, as they are multiple. The simplest summary would be that if arguments, wars and ideologies that sustain nationalistic or religious exclusivism and absolutism have only encouraged tensive relationships, then another system has to be used.

After all, dialogues are a common feature of life everywhere. The media are full of dialogues, often staged, on all kinds of issues. Especially in the public sphere, it seems that dialogues not only serve to negotiate options in a search for compromise, but are cathartic and apotropaeic rituals. To verbalise something, to enter into a conversation can be of more than mere symbolic significance; it can ritually signify the acceptance of a position or more generally, of the other party.2

This entails that the ‘isms’ that have raised the individualistic and nationalistic identities to prestige must be replaced by other ‘isms’ that propose tolerance, equity (also as sameness), inclusivity, pluralism, etc. This incontestable fact would extend its relevance to religion. If peace is to be achieved, the causes of wars have to be addressed. It became accepted that religion is a structure that has sustained rivalries even to violent and fatal ends. Religious wars and religiously affiliated wars seem to be paramount ← XVII | XVIII → in each era. In other words, whatever means that would be applied as effective means of achieving peace, should pore on religion, as a matter of pertinence. Interreligious dialogue hence becomes topical, even lucrative. The academia appropriates it, politics promote it, and economies demand it. It has become a phenomenon where any sphere of humanities can infuse its peculiar expectations.

Notwithstanding the almost rampant occurrences of interreligious dialogues, peace has eluded the world. It would appear even, that religious rivalry and acrimony have not even lessened. This raises the question of why, despite all efforts in the means of interreligious dialogue, has humanity not experienced unity and peace. This is the research question of this work, coined thus: Why is there a missing link between interreligious dialogue and the public? In response to this question, this work identifies what the missing link is and reveals why it has constituted many challenges to interreligious dialogue and the public.

Interreligious dialogue has not been practicably successful for a number of reasons. One of these is the basic understanding of religion by institutes who demand interreligious dialogue. Through its failures in procuring peace for the world, religion has been boycotted on what the structures of interreligious dialogue should be. It could equally be that, if religion laid the constructs for interreligious dialogue there would be no achievement of peace. Nonetheless, the decisive considerations of secular spheres for interreligious dialogue have contributed to the failures. For one, the presumption that every war that is affiliated with a religion has religious roots has been disastrous. Religion is rarely alone. It is a paramount part of a culture. So whether in good or bad, it carries the history, society, politics, economy, orientation of a public. When there is conflict, it is the most paramount of the culture that embodies it. Hence, religion has always been implicated in rivalries. To pretermit this factor and indulge in a solely religious solution to such conflicts would be discreditable. Perhaps, this might be the reason why many believe that religious wars never end.

Religion is different from other human disciplines, not just in its applications but in its very nature and ontology. The subject of religion, most religions, for example, is not ephemeral, tangible and fallible. It is spiritual, eternal and infallible. It is not always subject to intellectual or academic, much less scientific evaluations. It is mostly within the sphere ← XVIII | XIX → of belief and emotional intelligence. If interreligious dialogue loses sight of this and decides to address religious problems like any other scientific discipline, then the problems would not be properly resolved. This work argues that the awareness and considerations of these, among many other factors, would have provided practicable solutions to the disarray in the religious and non-religious world. This work exposes, therefore, the problems why interreligious dialogue has not been effective, and proposes that through proper articulated system or model, like the model of mutual enrichment presented in the work, religion can structure dialogue from its own ambience and principles.

Dialogue thus moves into the centre of theology and of theological processes, it becomes constitutive for Christian self-understanding which considers truth not as (its sole) possession, which restricts the search for truth not to its own tradition but regards itself as depending on the questions and answers of people of other religious convictions. Dialogue becomes indispensable for one’s own self-understanding.3

In the course of the research, it became evident that it is not enough to identify and divulge the problems, but equally to proffer solutions. The solutions, however, must be practicable. Any effective interreligious dialogue must have the aim of practicability in the public. It is in the public that the effects of peace and unity are concretised. Hence the topic of the work: Dialogues and Conflicts of Religions: Addressing the Practicability of Interreligious Dialogue to the Common Public. Through this topic, the nature of this work is presented. It is a dialectical work, exemplifying that which it is treating: Dialogue. There exist two poles of studies here. One is interreligious dialogue. The other is the common public. Through a synthetic analysis and a necessary objective of practicability, both poles become not just united but interdependent in this work, signifying the goodness in unity, and the benefits of mutual enrichment. However, it is not every encounter that is tagged interreligious dialogue that is automatically practicable or effective in the public. In fact, this work is proposing that an interreligious dialogue can be successful without being practicable. Yet, the aim here remains to achieve a practicable interreligious dialogue. ← XIX | XX →

How can it be successful but not practicable? There are two phases of interreligious dialogue. The first phase is the dialogue among religions. The second phase is the dialogue between religion and the public. The public consists of the civil, political and religious aspects of a culture. In other words, the second phase of interreligious dialogue occurs between the religious aspect and other aspects of a culture, which is the public. It is here that interreligious dialogue can be effectively practicable. In the first phase, which is very important because without it there would not be the religious aspect of the second phase, interreligious dialogue can be successful. Mere coming together is already a success because not every person or institute or even issue is dialogical or capable of dialogue. However, practicability exists when this religious success is in dialogue with the political and civil aspect of the public. It is in the concatenation of these three aspects that the problem of the missing link between interreligious dialogue and the public would be solved, because politics, civil and religious dimensions of the society recognise each other and are interdependent for the good of the public.

How then can this second phase be realised? This can be realised by the application of the solutions this work present, especially the model of mutual enrichment. In this model, the problem of ‘possessing the other’, which is a major hindrance towards effective interreligious dialogue is resolved. To realise a complete interreligious dialogue, the dialogic partners would have to access the other in his own values and religious structures. It is in the perception of the other from his own religious structures and values that respect and understanding are possible. Mutual enrichment uses the definition of dialogue in this work: interreligious dialogue is a form of relationship which occurs between partners of equal considerations, for mutual benefits of understanding and respect. The underlined words form the foundation on which the solutions are structured.

1 D’Costa, G., Christianity and World Religions, John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, 2009, p. X.

2 Klinkhammer, G., “The Dialogos Project”, in: Wieße, W., et al., (Eds.), Religions and Dialogue, Waxmann, New York, 2014, p. 76.

3 Ibid. p. 119.

← XX | XXI →


This work is foremost a research work. The research is for proper information on such a topical but bogus issue. It was impossible to confine a work of such depth and magnitude to one methodology. It was sometimes narrative, or evaluative, and other times comparative and prescriptive. Its research method was principally analytic. Particularly in its research aspect, documents, books, addresses, lectures and interviews were all analysed and incorporated to provide both a qualitative and quantitative work. Every method it applied was within the contextualisation of its effective presentation. The first chapter was very informative. It presented a wide range of dialogic understanding and dimensions. It was particularly argumentative. This was in the bid to distill from the multifarious concepts of dialogue, the one that would be pertinent to the work. Then it was evaluative and narrative too, especially when it presented the dialogical perspectives of some philosophers. The second chapter was very descriptive in its information and equally evaluative, especially in its treatment of the development and the challenges of interreligious dialogue in Christianity. It was also specifically comparative. Treating interreligious dialogue, unavoidable comparisons of some religions presented themselves. Chapter three was mainly descriptive. It exposed the vastness of research in this work. Chapter four and chapter five were evaluative and prescriptive. In presenting the challenges of interreligious dialogue the methodology of evaluation is supported by the tone of dismay and discomfort. In suggesting solutions, the prescriptive method of writing is accompanied with a tone of hope. Important to note too is that the gender choice of the work, expressed especially in the pronouns, is masculine. This choice does not imply any subordination of the feminine gender to the masculine gender. ← XXI | XXII →



The first point to be conscious of in this work is the density of information that was crammed in the first chapter. This could be too much for some people, or even discouraging for some others, especially when this information is all about dialogue in general and not interreligious dialogue per se. Secondly, this work did not address other religions in comprehensive and deep ways. It only treated them to the extent that they were relevant to Christianity. Also, the nitty-gritty of interreligious dialogue among religions was not immensely explicated. Since the concern of this work was on how to realise a practicable interreligious dialogue in the public, it did not dwell deep and long on the dialogues among religions. It is only in the solutions, that the importance of dialogue among religions was properly addressed and presented.

This work does not assume any claim of absolutism. It does not provide answers to everything and cannot be a finished response to the problem of practicability. Therefore it is open to constructive criticisms. More still, it should be an incentive, a spur for further studies on this issue. The model of mutual enrichment that is proposed in this work is yet to be developed, and is even less applied. This academic endeavour can be fruitful for all if it is supported. ← XXIII | XXIV →

← XXIV | XXV →

Structural Resumé

The five chapters of this work are structured to one aim: Discovering the missing link and proffering a solution to the realisation of a practicable interreligious dialogue. Chapter one exposes the complexities of dialogue. Since the concept of dialogue is as versatile as there are intentions to be achieved through dialogue or participants of dialogue, this work would have to create a working definition of its own. That would have to be later in the work. With different theorists, ancient and modern, this work is able to construe the multifarious concepts of dialogue and actually applies them towards a positive usage. Undeniable is the relevance of dialogue to this world. It equally explains that the momentousness of dialogue is not something peculiar to this era, but rather man, as far as he can remember, has always been a dialogic being. He engages in dialogue with his family, otherwise called traditional dialogue. Or he engages in dialogue with other groups and people for various intentions, ranging from economic interdependence to security reasons; otherwise called disciplined dialogue. What exists now as dialogue is the technically structured dialogic way of thought and encounter which has evolved through the years alongside dialogic theorists and social reforms. Equally, the concept of dialogue is concretised within three dimensions namely; the problem-formulation and solving-dimension, interactive-dimension, and the synthesis-dimension of both. In other words, all the dialogic encounters of man fall in, more or less, one of these dimensions, which are self-explanatory.

The thought of referring to historical dialogic thinkers before forging ahead on this work is considered proper. This work selects a few, based on nothing other than relevant thoughts to the main objective; arriving at an analysis of the practicability of religious dialogue and discovering the missing link. It starts with Plato and sees in him someone who paved the way for dialogic encounters and till the contemporary time, exerts thoughtful influence in the world of disciplined dialogue and traditional dialogue. From Plato, it moves to Jean-Jacques Rousseau who showed through his writings and ended with his life, the absolutism of rationalism. Rousseau was convinced that fair judgment is only achievable through dialogue, not ← XXV | XXVI → absolutism. From Rousseau, the dialogical line moved to Martin Buber who moved further aside from his predecessors with the concept of the innate nature of dialogue to man. He posited that dialogue is not a way or means to a solution but the solution itself. The tension that exists between relation and ‘irrelation’, between acceptance and refusal, harmony and discord, is the very pivot of humanity. Man is a dialogic being and realises this in an ‘I-Thou’ or ‘I-It’ relationship. This perspective brought dialogue to the lime-light of world and religious politics. David Bohm widened the concept of dialogue further with his idea of the ‘whole’. For him, the universe is a unit, a whole, and man has dismembered it through cultural and religious structures. Dialogue is the way to realise this wholeness and stability in the world again.

The general overview of dialogue is supposed to be the disposition phase into the work. Nevertheless, it should, like every other aim in this work, relate to the research question; why is there a missing link between interreligious dialogue and its practicability by religious people in the plural societies? The relevance of the bogus general overview of dialogue is that one needs to explicate what dialogue in general means before it is narrowed down to interreligious dialogue. This work then concludes with the conceptual structure and working definition that dialogue is a form of relationship which occurs between partners of equal considerations, for mutual benefits of understanding and respect. With a general knowledge of dialogue, it would be right to proceed to interreligious dialogue, the next level of the work.

In Chapter two, the work moves from the complex topic of dialogue in general to interreligious dialogue. The question of interreligious dialogue is addressed, and comprehensively from a Christian (Catholic) perspective. It is only with a deeper knowledge of interreligious dialogue, that one can understand the intricacies of its relevance, applicability and practicability to the common public. It is a necessity of this work to be precise on interreligious dialogue from a Catholic Christian perspective, as the major focus of this work. In the effort to elucidate what interreligious dialogue means, it starts by addressing the three major Abrahamic religions, analysing their various perspectives of interreligious dialogue. The differences in religions are equally highlighted through the ontological, structural and exterior categorisation of religious constructs. With such basic knowledge ← XXVI | XXVII → of other religions, interreligious dialogue is then addressed from a Christian perspective. In the bid to analyse the meaning of interreligious dialogue, this work is lead to various facets in which people have conceived interreligious dialogue. In synthesising the meanings of interreligious dialogue, common factors that would define a process as interreligious dialogue are established. Further efforts are made to address the developments of interreligious dialogue and the challenges that have besieged it.

In synthesising the meanings of interreligious dialogue, the four various forms of dialogue are discovered: Dialogues of life, action, theological exchange and religious experience. What do they all have in common? What flags a religious encounter as a dialogue? This work argues that it could be religious differences. There are, however, non-religious differences that characterise a dialogue as interreligious. One can concur that not all interreligious dialogues are religious in its aim or structure. Yet, they are tagged as such. Intellectual reasons also pass for interreligious dialogues today. It is a progressive theological discipline, with lucrative and relevant future. Many who engage in interreligious dialogue or study it are involved for the intellectual benefits of it.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (February)
Model of mutual enrichment Truth, Peace vs Dialogue Ultimate aim of religion Dialogue and Identity Western ‚Irreligiousity' Practicability of interreligious dialogue
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 390 pp.

Biographical notes

Kizito Chinedu Nweke (Author)

Kizito Chinedu Nweke is a Roman Catholic priest. He studied Theology at the University of Würzburg, Germany.


Title: Dialogues and Conflicts among Religious People