Current Issue Article Abstracts

Winter 2021 Vol. 56.1

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Lynn White, Jr.’s Critical Analysis of Environmental Degradation in Relation to Faith Traditions: Is His “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” Still Relevant?*
Md. Abu Sayem

More than half a century ago, Lynn White, Jr., launched a debate that is still ongoing. It is difficult to bypass his critical views of monotheistic religious traditions to the present ecological crisis. This essay attempts to review some recent works by responding to White’s central thesis, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis,” which seemingly offers a negative judgment on a monotheistic religious approach to the environment. Being critical of White’s and his critics’ arguments, it seeks both to present an unbiased and neutral overview and to enrich the present discussions on environmental issues from faith perspectives.

Interreligious Dialogue as a Gateway to the Sustainable Development Goals: A Lebanese Case Study
Ziad Fahed, Anna Maria Daou

Much has been written on the importance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the creation of peace and of just and equitable societies; however, the role of religion in general and interreligious dialogue in particular in achieving those goals has not been extensively researched. For decades, religious actors’ and institutions’ role in conflict transformation, peacebuilding, and reconciliation has been overshadowed. This essay offers a critical analysis of the outcomes of interreligious dialogue and of its effect on the implementation of the goals through the work of the Sustainable Network of Religious Leaders in the North of Lebanon, which was launched by the Dialogue for Life and Reconciliation. The network worked extensively on matters related to gender equality and gender-based discrimination, inclusive societies, peace and justice, and creating partnerships for the goals. It pinpoints the successes, weaknesses, and challenges of this type of work and highlights the fact that it is only through comprehensive partnerships that the goals will be achieved. Through the collection of both primary and secondary data, this research aims at opening new doors toward a practical understanding of the role of interreligious dialogue in development and a better empirical analysis of its effects.

A Social Capital Perspective on the Peace Work of Religious Women
Tale Steen-Johnsen

Women are often invisible when official religious peacebuilding efforts are effectuated. However, religious women, even though often not allowed into official religious peace initiatives, are still active peacebuilders. The religious peacebuilding efforts of men have been subject to academic discussions and theorization during past decades, while the peace work of religious women has frequently been empirically described but to a much lesser extent theorized. This essay seeks to contribute to theorizing the peace work of religious women to enable more conceptual discussions on how their contribution to peace can be understood. Drawing upon older and more recent empirical descriptions of religious peacebuilding efforts led by women, I suggest that we consider how religious norms, identities, and religious organization are utilized to strengthen and create social capital in these efforts. This is a valuable perspective when seeking to understand peacebuilding efforts by religious women.

The Reconstruction of the Concept of Religion in the Baha’i Writings
Nader Saiedi

The writings of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith, provide a fundamental reconstruction of the concept of religion. In this new spiritual orientation, religion is perceived as a dialogue between God and humanity. This dialogical approach emphasizes the historical nature of religion, offers a dialectical conception of the Word of God, reinterprets the concept of the Day of Resurrection, provides a new and allegorical interpretation of various scriptures, argues for the harmony between religion and reason, and defines the true aim of all religions as the spiritualization of life, the liberation of humans from various forms of prejudice, and the promotion of unity and love in the world.

A Vision of the Destination: Theological Imagination, Ecumenism, and Social Transformation
Ikenna Paschal Okpaleke

“The eyes of the mind reach the destination before the legs get there,” so say African elders. This speaks of the power of imagining and envisioning of the world that serves everybody better. An ecumenical vision of a just and peaceful Africa attests to this common wisdom. In this sense, theological imagination remains relevant for any ecumenical vision that intends to bring about transformation in the African continent. This essay argues for the importance of theological imagination in advancing any transformative ecumenical program that targets the social sphere in Africa. The reflection on theological imagination in view of ecumenical transformation will then be tested in three social areas of engagement, namely, education, politics, and gender justice. It focuses on the context of Nigeria because of its peculiar turbulent sociopolitical environment and its challenging, but promising, ecumenical opportunity.

Imago Dei and the Tensions of Ethnic Identity
Wondimu Legesse Sonessa

According to the story of creation narrated in the Bible, all human beings are created in the image of God. As God’s image-bearers, all people need equal freedom, dignity, and justice. However, this core value of humanity is being neglected, and people are mistreating, exploiting, and killing others based on their ethnic origins. A country with a multiethnic society faces the worst challenge in this regard. This essay offers biblical and extrabiblical evidence for addressing the tensions between ethnicity and humanity in the image of God from a systematic theological standpoint, whereby attention is called to a harmonious and peaceful relationship between people of different ethnic heritages.

Meaning and Method in Comparative Theology by Catherine Cornille (review)
Mark Banas

Meeting Jewish Friends and Neighbours by Marcus Braybrooke (review)
John Gillman

Forgotten Origins: The Lost Jewish History of Jesus and Early Christianity by Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez (review)
Eugene Fisher

Without Ceasing to Be a Christian: A Catholic and Protestant Assess the Christological Contribution of Raimon Panikkar by Erik Ranstrom and Bob Robinson (review)
Jyri Komulainen