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From Darkness to Light

The Concept of Salvation in the Perspectives of Thomas Aquinas and Śankara

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Santosh Thomas Karingadayil

The question on salvation with its multifarious dimensions had always been a significant subject-matter of discussion from time immemorial. All the religious traditions attempt to formulate appropriate answers to the questions related to this, one of the most crucial issues in theological reflections. Still the concept remains wide open for further research. It is St. Paul who said that, «For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.» (1 Cor. 13:13) Salvation, as St. Paul conceives it, is a face to face vision of God in perfect knowledge merited through the person of Christ and through the gratuitous gift of grace. It is a passage from ignorance to truth, from darkness to light and from death to immortality (Br. Upa. I. iii. 27). From Darkness to Light aims at an enhanced understanding of the concept of salvation, comparing the theological and soteriological positions of Thomas Aquinas and Śankara. The author has made an admirable attempt in Comparative Theology, deciphering and clarifying all related concepts of salvation in both the thinkers.

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General Introduction 1

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1 General Introduction Religious experience has often been understood as the quest for, and an experience of, the ultimate reality. In this quest religions seem to be led by claims of uniqueness and universality; and each of them also claims that it offers the true way of salvation. But one of the things, in spite of certain fundamentalist tendencies, that characterizes today's world is religious pluralism. The breaking of cultural, racial, linguistic and geographical boundaries is on a scale the world has never previously seen. Today neither the West nor the East can any longer be closed within itself and regard their religion as the only valid way to salvation. It is in this world of religious pluralism, that one is called to theologize on religious experience. Theology is both a discourse about God and a search after truth, which needs accuracy of expression and interpretation as well as knowledge of the reliable sources believed in by all. In today's global society, theology - faith seeking understanding - is better understood as a scientific discipline which is interreligious, comparative, and dialogical. While theologians may differ on certain dogmas of faith, the common features of theology are agreed on by everyone. Believers in different traditions agree with one another about the nature of the world, the existence of God and the divine revelation. It is in this space that Comparative theology plays its role of promoting and furthering dialogue among religions. Comparative theology is a process of juxtaposition of something in...

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