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On the Possibility of a Creative and Inspiring Pluralism of Religions

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Pluralism of religions is not a timeless phenomenon. Religion itself has changed and developed in the history of mankind. As shown by Wilfred Cantwell Smith in his book on The Meaning and End of Religion, varieties of religious experiences and pluralism of religions also are restyled and remodeled according to time and place. In this communication I want to elaborate on this theme in a double way. First I want to make some remarks about pluralism of religions from personal experiences in Indonesia and the Netherlands, especially in encounters with Muslims. In the second part I want to draw some conclusions on the topic from a broader historical perspective, viewing pluralism as a universally changing and fluctuating fact. In the first part some general problems of interreligious dialogue are described ending up in a rather pessimistic estimation of the possibilities of this dialogue, with further goals than peaceful coexistence. In the second part I hope to show the inevitability of this dialogue. In my conclusion I will try to delineate a way out of this dilemma with the perspective of a creative and inspiring pluralism.


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