John Thatamanil to lecture at Luther March 13

March 5, 2012         

John Thatamanil, associate professor of theology and world religions at Union Theological Seminary, New York, will present "The Hospitality of Receiving: Gandhi, King, and Interreligious Learning" at Luther College Tuesday, March 13 at 7 p.m. in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall.

Thatamanil's lecture is open to the public with no charge for admission.

Thatamanil will discuss questions Christian theologians have been struggling with for some time: What are we to make of the religious traditions of our neighbors and of religious diversity? Is religious diversity a problem to be solved or a promise to receive?

He will explain how some theologians affirm that the Christian faith alone is true and all other traditions false (exclusivism), while others maintain that the Christian tradition is the fullness of truth of which only a ray is to be found elsewhere (inclusivism), and still others that all religious traditions are on par because all are equally redemptive (pluralism).

Thatamanil will move beyond this threefold typology in which Christians seek to determine whether other religions traditions possess truth, arguing instead that we must move toward interreligious receptivity – the capacity to learn from a tradition other than our own. He will argue that this should be a decisive criterion by which we measure the viability and integrity of any future Christian theology that hopes to embody the virtue of hospitality. He will demonstrate how two pivotal twentieth-century religious thinkers, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., excelled at interreligious receptivity.

Thatamanil has taught a wide variety of courses in the areas of comparative theology, theologies of religious pluralism, Hindu-Christian dialogue, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, the theology of Paul Tillich, process theology, and Eastern Orthodox theology and spirituality.

He is the author of "The Immanent Divine: God, Creation, and the Human Predicament. An East-West Conversation" (Fortress Press, 2006) and is currently at work on a second book based on recent literature on the Western construction/invention of "religion."

Thatamanil is a past-president of the North American Paul Tillich Society and is chair of the American Academy of Religion's Theological Education Steering Committee.
Thatamanil's lecture is sponsored by the Luther Center for Ethics and Public Life.