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Teaching Religion, Teaching Truth

Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives

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Edited By Jeff Astley, Leslie J. Francis, Mandy Robbins and Mualla Selçuk

Religious educators today are called upon to enable young people to develop as fully-rounded human beings in a multicultural and multifaith world. It is no longer sufficient to teach about the history of religions: religion is not relegated to the past. It is no longer sufficient to teach about the observable outward phenomena of religions: religion is not restricted to practices, artefacts, and buildings observable in the outside world. It is also necessary to take seriously what religions believe about themselves, and what religions believe about other religions.
Seen from the inside, religions deal in the currency of truth. For the religions themselves, truth matters. Truth-claims can lead to harmony and peace, but they may also engender discord and violence. What ultimately counts is how one set of truth-claims confronts or embraces the truths claimed by other, different voices. Therefore those who teach religion cannot avoid dealing with the theology of religions.
In this collection of original essays, religious educators shaped by both Christian and Islamic worldviews discuss the problems and opportunities that now face educators and believers alike, as they are confronted by the challenge of teaching religion and teaching truth. The discussion nurtured at the sixteenth conference of the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values is here developed further, to stimulate wider reflection and shape good local practice.

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Introduction 1

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Introduction This volume represents perspectives on the ‘theology of religions’, and therefore on religious truth, in the context of various forms of religious education. The essays are written from a wide variety of standpoints: theo- retical and empirical; Catholic Christian, Protestant Christian, and Muslim; Turkish, Western European, American, and Australian. Catholic and Protestant studies The first five essays address issues at the interface between religious educa- tion and the theology of religions from Roman Catholic and Protestant perspectives. In chapter 1, Gloria Durka writes from the standpoint of Roman Catholicism. She considers the demographic shift in the religious scene in the United States, before exploring the impact of this on Catholic identity. The dif ferent theologies of religions circulating within the Catholic Church are sympathetically reviewed and their main themes critically explored. Durka then addresses the question, ‘What can Roman Catholicism con- tribute to religious education such that the fashioning of a theology of religions might be enhanced?’ In chapter 2, Friedrich Schweitzer analyses from a Protestant perspec- tive both the notion of ‘principled pluralism’, a central goal for religious education, and theology’s contribution to religious education. Principled pluralism is an attitude that avoids relativism as well as fundamentalism, and is based on personal autonomy and on shared forms of life guided by tolerance, respect, dialogue, and solidarity. Many take it for granted that this kind of pluralism cannot be supported by a type of religious education 2 Introduction that takes theology as one of its starting points. On...

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