Graduate School of Theology
The question before us is the desirability of Buddhist-Christian dialogue in the work of (what Christians call) constructive theology. As a feminist theologian whose work is ever more deeply shaped by such a dialogue, my immediate answer is an unequivocal yes. This dialogue fits a general pattern over two thousand years in which theologians have drawn from the wisdom of other traditions or cultures to better understand the mysteries of human experience. Without neo-Platonism and Aristotle there could hardly have been anything we recognize as Christian theology. Without pre-Christian Irish religion, there would be no Saint Brigit or Celtic Christianity. Without phenomenology, process, and Marxist philosophy the greatest works of twentieth-century Christian thought would not exist. Christianity, like all religions, is a moving river changed by time and culture and nearly as interiorly diverse as its members. The dialogue with Buddhism might be seen as a contemporary example of Christianity's openness to exchange with other ways of thinking that broadens and deepens its best insights. It is perhaps analogous to Origen's reliance on neo-Platonism or Thomas Aquinas's inspiration by the rediscovery of Aristotle.
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