Date of Submission
My thesis is a practical contribution towards interreligious relations. Religious plurality is a major challenge facing church and society at the beginning of the third millennium.
In Chapter One I set the context of developments and crises in the twentieth century, and propose that Bernard Lonergan's theological method provides a way to engage the complex issues involved in interreligious relations. Because he offers a cognitional theory and an epistemology that are empirically grounded in the believing subject, Lonergan's approach is firmly and securely rooted and yet is open to the concrete reality of the religious other.
In Chapter Two I summarise and refine elements of Lonergan's analysis of the dynamics of consciousness and propose that they form a ""common ground"" on which believers from different religions might meet. I extend that to the construction and mediation of meaning in Chapter Three, and to religious meaning in Chapter Four. In particular, I use these dynamics to distinguish between 'spirituality' and 'religion'. I conclude that spirituality forms the 'common horizon' in which believers from different religions might meet.
In Chapter Five I show how these same dynamics underlie the structural relations between different religions, the personal relations built by dialogue between believers from different religions, and a theology of religious plurality.
In Chapter Six I show how familiarity with these dynamics enlightens our understanding of selected core themes in Christian theology. My innovative treatment of aspects of Trinitarian theology, in particular the divine missions, will underpin my argument for Christian involvement in interreligious relations.
In Chapter Seven I show how Christian revelation sheds light on the dynamics of human consciousness.;Since these dynamics come to a particular personal clarity and intensity in Christian revelation, and since these dynamics underlie and constitute each of the religions and the relations between them as treated in the previous chapters, I conclude that Christians have a particular responsibility in interreligious relations, and sketch some preliminary indications of that responsibility.
My thesis reassures Christians that quite traditional Christian doctrines, when appropriated in accord with contemporary appreciation of human subjectivity, become motive forces for engaging with and being genuinely open to learning from the religious other, while remaining authentic to their own tradition, and challenging the other to similar authenticity. By doing so they model the method of interreligious relations. Their example will encourage others to appropriate their religious traditions in a similar, critical way and also to engage with others creatively and responsibly. Thus believers from different religions can better collaborate with each other in transforming the world in accord with God's holy desire for human and planetary flourishing.
School of Theology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
McInerney, P. J. (2009). Modelling the method: a Lonergan approach to Christian responsibility in interreligious relations (Doctoral thesis, Australian Catholic University). Retrieved from http://researchbank.acu.edu.au/theses/266