In 6 pages (double spaced) ANSWER THREE of the following FOUR questions (3 of 4), based on class readings, discussions, and lectures.
1. Religious pluralism is a central problem for contemporary theology. While world religions advance competing truth claims, there is a great need for tolerance and respect between them. In different ways, Swami Vivekananda and Leslie Newbigin both address issues of religious pluralism. Compare and contrast their approaches.
How do Newbigin and Vivekananda, respectively, talk about religious pluralism?
Where do they overlap, and what are the key differences?
What is your assessment? What are the key strengths and limitations of each approach? Which do you find more compelling?
2. James Cone and Delores Williams offer two different contextual theological visions; Delores Williams both builds upon and critiques James Cone’s Black theology of liberation. Compare and contrast their theological approaches to liberation.
What are the distinctive elements of each theological vision?
What are the key differences, and what are the practical implications of those differences?
Which do you find more compelling, and why?
3. Both Elizabeth Johnson and Kate Bowler offer critiques of traditional approaches to theodicy. Theodicy is the theological problem of reconciling belief in a good God with the presence of evil and/or suffering. More generally, many philosophies give an account explaining or justifying the existence of evil and/or suffering (e.g. Social Darwinism). How does Johnson and/or Bowler challenge these explanations?
Identify one theodicy you have seen offered in the world today, and briefly describe the argument in a general way.
Explore how Johnson and/or Bowler might critique this idea.
What is your assessment? What are the critical issues involved, and where does your chosen theodicy fall short? What would a more adequate response look like?
4. In different ways John Thatamanil and Gloria Anzaldúa both challenge how we think about religion and identity. Compare and contrast their approaches.
What are the key elements of each author’s challenge to religion as a category of identity?
What are points of connection/similarity, and what are key differences?
What is your assessment? What are key questions or problems raised by this comparison? Which do you find more compelling, and why?