The Search for Pluralism in the Writings of Said Nursi and John Courtney Murray: Prophetic Pluralism in Islam and Roman Catholicism
21 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2013 Last revised: 21 Sep 2013
Date Written: September 19, 2013
Pluralism and development are concepts that often produce confusion and, for some, fear. Every tradition must develop since even settled truths need to adjust to fit new facts and contexts. Understanding this and the means of interpretation used to explain such applications can go a long way to approach change in ways that honour tradition and the nature of human communities. Pluralism and diversity, properly understood, need not threaten religious associations that believe their tradition has the fullest insights about truth. This paper examines the search for pluralism in the writings of two people -- one Muslim and the other Roman Catholic -- Said Nursi (1877-1960) and John Courtney Murray S.J. (1904-1967). The paper also touches briefly on contemporary Jewish writings on pluralism. The goal of the analysis is to show, first, that developments of the understanding of pluralism within Roman Catholicism were slow and controversial and that the man who took a prophetic stance in relation to that work, John Courtney Murray, suffered for it with exclusion and censorship before his ideas became central to foundational documents of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty. Second, within Islam, Said Nursi develops an understanding of pluralism by taking a prophetic stance that led, in his case, to close to three decades of exile, imprisonment and censorship. Viewing the work of both writers side by side can lead to insights about the nature of prophecy and pluralism within great religious traditions and insights about living together with respect for the beliefs of others. In this task religions can play an important role and this paper hopes to contribute to this by quoting from key documents within the Roman Catholic tradition that show the developed insights within that religious faith community about living together with respect for those who have other faiths (religious and non-religious).
Keywords: pluralism, Islam, development, Roman Catholicism and religious diversity, inter-faith dialogue, Islam and Christianity, Judaism and Islam and Catholicism, Said Nursi, John Courtney Murray, Vatican II, Dignitatus Humanae
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