Introduction: The Function of Religious Thinking in Interreligious Activity

  • Julia Ipgrave


This chapter introduces the dimension of religious thinking posing the question of its function within interreligious activity. It begins by acknowledging the tradition of theologies of religion including the classic triadic distinction between exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism, particularist theologies and dialogical approaches. It recognises some relevance of these to the interreligious field being studied but also their limitations for covering the wide spectrum of religious positions held by interreligious actors. Correlations made between particular theological positions and interreligious engagement are called into question by findings from this research project, and secular societal reasons for interreligious involvement are recognised. Nevertheless, religious thinking is found to have a significant role in interreligious activity serving a number of functions. This chapter highlights four functions which are used to support analysis in the case studies that follow. These are interpreting, being participants’ attempts to make sense of their encounters with religious plurality; positioning which concerns the use of religious thinking to locate individuals and faith communities in relation to each other and wider society; motivating being religious impulses for involvement; legitimising when religious scripture and example is used to justify interreligious engagement.


Religious thinking Interreligious theology Interpreting Positioning Motivating Legitimising 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Ipgrave
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HumanitiesUniversity of RoehamptonLondonUK

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