The task would then be to map out these overlaps by way of discourse with members of different traditions or interpretation of their religious texts.
For example, insofar as Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions share a common set of basic theological concepts for example, strict monotheism or scriptural figures for example, Adam, Noah, and Abraham , these commonalities could be and often are used as frameworks for interreligious dialogue in the present.
In the process of interpretation and discourse, relations could be extended and new points of contact developed, so that a more extensive fusion of religious horizons can be achieved. Depending on the hermeneutical approach taken and the arguments on which it is based, perspectives that advocate such dialogue are often correctly characterized as pluralist though more inclusivist positions are not ruled out.
Advocacy of this openness to the revisability of basic epistemological criteria is based on the assumption, which many pluralist accounts of religion share with hermeneutics generally, that present standards of judgment are always subject to adjustment or augmentation in the future.
This assumption goes along with the claim that there is in principle no end to the hermeneutic process; interpretation is continually producing new understandings of its objects and new horizons that is, new contexts of understanding that can subsequently become starting points for future attempts at dialogue and expansions of mutual understanding between different perspectives.
Since hermeneutics denies the possibility of objective access to truth, or truth that is free from a particular perspective, every mutual understanding achieved by diverse religious traditions will necessarily be provisional and subject to later reinvestigation. This is, however, not to be considered an unfortunate limitation but rather an opportunity for further constructive engagement.
Only in particular historical encounters can new horizons of understanding and experience be forged; the hermeneutical philosopher of religious pluralism seeks out new possibilities for dialogue through which to partly reappraise the merit of former interpretations. Regarding the question of whether or not diverse claims and interpretations point beyond themselves to a higher universal truth, the hermeneutical approach to pluralism may lead to different conclusions.
One possibility would affirm that there is such a universal truth, resulting in pluralism not unlike that of Hick. One could then say that all of the various religious traditions, and the diversity of representations of reality found within them, express the same ultimate truth from their different horizons.
On the other hand, it is also possible to argue on Gadamerian grounds that what is productive and valuable in interreligious discourse is precisely the encounter with the other as other, and that appeals to a higher unity undermine this. According to this view, when beliefs and practices belonging to different traditions seem to refer to different ultimate realities, it may be preferable either to hold that they really do so or to avoid the question of a possible transcendent unity of religious truth entirely.
The former position makes the issue of ongoing interpretation and judgment of conflicting truth claims particularly significant, while the latter is sometimes more pragmatic but also potentially less productive.
Merold Westphal, for example, argues against something like the latter view, claiming that it precludes meaningful dialogue with religious others by eliminating even the possibility of cognitive conflict , p. His defense of a modest form of theological exclusivism that has been uncoupled from political and cultural imperialism may serve as a helpful point of contact between analytic and continental approaches to religious diversity, especially insofar as he advocates the consideration of epistemological issues and of the cognitive content of belief claims in addressing the ethical concerns at the root of many forms of pluralism.
Hospitality Hospitality to others has become a central theme in continental philosophy of religion, as well as in continental ethical and political philosophy more broadly. This idea carries with it a demand to respect the other in her difference, and thus has been taken up as a productive concept in terms of which to articulate a pluralist approach to religious diversity.
In addition to its conceptual resources, it has also traditionally been recognized as an important virtue in many different religions and cultures, thus making it a helpful starting point for dialogue.
Philosophers who discuss the ethics of hospitality also recognize certain inherent tensions in the concept that make it difficult to translate into a concrete practice. As discussed in the work of Ricoeur and Derrida , among others, hospitality appears to be something that in principle can never be fully offered. Pluralist accounts that think in terms of hospitality must thus deal with at least two related issues: how to address the seeming impossibility of adequately fulfilling the requirement that one be hospitable to the religious other as other, and how to be respectful and welcoming of the religious other even while recognizing the risks inherent in doing so.
Specifically, religious communities must recognize both an obligation toward engagement with those from different religious traditions and the impossibility of achieving a complete understanding of religious others. In addition, hospitality demands that religious communities open themselves up to religious others even if their own communities or beliefs are threatened in the process.
Ricoeur connects hospitality to a hermeneutic theory of translation, arguing that the impossibility of being perfectly hospitable mirrors the impossibility of translating a text from one language to another without any loss or distortion of meaning. In each case, he argues that this impossibility suggests that we should not aim for the ideal of perfection but rather accept that every instance of hospitality, just like every translation, will be risky, limited, and contingent , p.
Accepting such a fact may be difficult, especially insofar as it seems to suggest failure to achieve the goals toward which hospitality is oriented. However, Ricoeur maintains that fixation on perfect, complete hospitality is counterproductive and that achieving it, if it were possible, would actually result in the erasure of the difference between oneself and the other cf.
Instead, the limitations inherent in any attempt at hospitality produce a situation in which creative exchange between two individuals, communities, texts, or traditions happens without either subsuming one into another or synthesizing both into a third that erases the initial identities. Interreligious encounter offers the opportunity to engage in a process of translation in which the parties involved learn both about others and about themselves by constructing a context in which their differences and limitations are emphasized.
Drawing on the ethical philosophy of Levinas, Derrida argues that the other makes an infinite ethical demand that one is never able to answer adequately, but that this inability is precisely what drives the continual concrete effort of hospitable practice.
In the context of religious pluralism, this means that one must recognize not only that every attempt to understand and welcome the religious other is necessarily inadequate but also that one has a responsibility to try to be more understanding, more welcoming, and more accepting of the religious difference as such cf.
Derrida Importantly for Derrida, it also entails a recognition that one stands in a similar relation to the other as one does to the divine. Contributions from Feminism Feminist theology and philosophy of religion has, perhaps surprisingly, turned its attention to religious pluralism only recently.
Feminist scholars have long emphasized the need for greater diversity in both analytic and continental discussions, but this has often meant gender, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity rather than religious diversity. To the extent that feminist perspectives have been applied specifically to religious pluralism, though, arguments have emphasized the degree to which particular religions have been taken as homogeneous traditions without internal diversity Gross , p.
In either case, one can observe a skepticism concerning understandings of both religions and women as possessing relatively stable or universal identities, as such conceptions provide adequate pictures neither of historical realities nor of the full range of belief claims and their implications.
Indeed, they can often serve to conceal the roles, concerns, beliefs, and practices of not only women but also other power minorities within traditions. Insofar as they share a critical stance toward male-dominated traditions of thinking about religion generally and diversity specifically, feminist approaches to religious diversity may serve as points of contact between analytic and continental discussions.
For instance, many feminist philosophers and theologians argue that special attention needs to be paid not only to the experiences of people with diverse gender, ethnic, national, and economic identities, but also particularly to those whose experiences have traditionally been ignored or underrepresented within Western philosophical and theological traditions cf.
Gross ; Kwok If emphasizing the importance of such diversity is already a feminist value, then it stands to reason that inclusion of experiences from members of diverse religious traditions should also be valued. Furthermore, concepts, practices, and experiences arising from non-Western traditions may deserve special attention since they have traditionally been given less consideration in Western philosophical and theological discourse.
In addition, many feminist theologians take it as a central aim to find alternative scriptural sources or minority practices that can be used to critique, augment, or replace traditions that have historically excluded or undervalued women.
This same inquiry into alternative sources and interpretations leads feminist theology toward interreligious dialogue, out of both the spirit of openness to difference and that of solidarity Ruether , p.
By extending the scope of critical feminist investigations across diverse religious traditions, the possibilities for finding constructive resources may be broadened Gross , p. For example, many non-Christian traditions include devotions to goddesses, or as discussed above non-personal representations of the divine.
Such practices and concepts can be helpful in critiquing the traditional masculine bias in Christianity, provided that the Christian theologian adopts a pluralist attitude toward other religious ideas.
Of course, this is not to say that non-Christian traditions do not also contain patriarchal elements, and it is likewise the task of the feminist pluralist to analyze these critically cf. Ruether In the context of religious diversity, this criticism would include not only fostering greater appreciation of the concepts and practices of other traditions as such, but, particularly, adopting a charitable attitude when approaching elements of other traditions that may at first glance seem anti-feminist.
Another important feminist contribution to religious pluralism is the critique of conceptions of particular religious traditions as possessing single, uniform identities. Perhaps the most direct and substantial of such critiques is offered by Jeannine Hill Fletcher , who argues that describing religious traditions according to their specific differences and then identifying their members according to such distinctions is misleading in several ways. Also, the religious identity of a single individual or community always intersects various other identities, all of which are informed by social, cultural, and geographical locations and particular experiences and behaviors.
Perhaps most importantly for her understanding of religious pluralism, Fletcher also contends that such intersectional religious identities are always hybrid, by which she means that all identities are formed in relation with multiple other identities.
Because of this, no identity is absolutely distinct and no difference completely precludes any communication and understanding. Dialogue and mutual understanding between members of diverse religious traditions is possible because, in the complex mesh of relationships out of which different religious identities emerge, possibilities already exist for building solidarity with one another. Furthermore, the particular points of contact and the character of the mutual understanding and solidarity that result from interreligious discourse cannot be determined beforehand, because one cannot know before actually engaging with the other what similarities and differences one will encounter.
Process Philosophy One important approach to religious pluralism that is not covered in the discussions of analytic and continental perspectives above is that of process philosophy. Drawing primarily on the work of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne, process philosophies of religion highlight the potential for novelty and creativity in the world.
Since it is constitutive of process philosophy to hold that becoming and change are ontologically fundamental, process philosophers of religion tend to reinterpret, downplay, or deny the idea of an immutable divine reality.
Process approaches also emphasize complexity and difference as inherent aspects of all levels of reality, so a pluralist approach to religious diversity would seem to follow naturally from their metaphysical commitments.
Another commitment that serves a central role for many process philosophers is the commitment to the naturalistic worldview of modern science. Griffin argues that although such naturalism is often combined with atheism and ontological materialism, it is not a necessary relation , p. Accepting such naturalism as part of the basis for a pluralist approach to religious diversity may create difficulties for process positions, though, insofar as one cannot presume it to be a shared assumption of various contemporary religious perspectives.
On the other hand, it provides an ontologically minimalist and relatively objective framework from which members of different religious traditions can, at least in principle, begin dialogue. It can also serve as the basis for an argument for epistemic humility in a similar vein to that of Hick — though with crucially different ontological claims. The first distinction between these two positions, though, is that in the former the Real is posited as a single ultimate referent while in the latter different claims or representations can be taken to have distinct ultimate referents.
John Cobb, for instance, argues especially that personal and impersonal representations of the divine are difficult to reconcile as simply different concepts of the same noumenal reality, and attempting such a reconciliation would end up revealing very little about either tradition from which the concepts emerge or the Real to which they point cf. Griffin , p. Instead, Cobb posits that ultimate reality must in itself be unimaginably complex.
The various perspectives on this reality found among diverse religious traditions are then not only different ways of representing the same ultimate truth, but indeed distinct ways of representing different aspects of the complex totality of this truth. Impersonal representations signify one basic aspect of the Real, while personal representations signify a fundamentally different basic aspect.
Given this basic plurality, the different concepts and experiences found in different religious traditions can be taken to be equally valid while retaining even those differences that appear to be mutually contradictory. In order to reconcile such contradictions, conflicting claims can be understood essentially as answers to different questions about the nature of reality Griffin , p.
If this is the case, then claims that at first seem conflicting can be reinterpreted as complementary. The work of pluralistic dialogue would be synthetic, placing claims from different traditions alongside each other to attempt a deeper understanding of the multiform nature of the ultimate. The aim of such a synthetic approach, though, would not be to construct a new perspective that would incorporate claims from various religious traditions into a larger system, but rather to provide a context in which members of one tradition can both learn about and appreciate the value of other traditions and meaningfully reflect on their own beliefs.
While process approaches tend toward the kind of deep pluralism examined so far, there are exceptions. Following Hartshorne more closely than Whitehead, Ogden maintains that ultimate reality must in itself have a single structure, and he identifies this primarily with the Christian concept of God , p.
Proceeding from this basis, it is still possible to affirm the possibility of a plurality of valid religious perspectives, insofar as complete knowledge of the ultimate structure of reality lies beyond the grasp of human experience. Liberation Perspectives Liberation theology, which advocates a religious duty to aid those who are poor or suffering other forms of inequality and oppression, has had a significant influence on recent discussions of pluralism.
The struggle against oppression can be seen as providing an enterprise in which members of diverse religious traditions can come together in solidarity. Paul F. Knitter, whose work serves as a prominent theological synthesis of liberation and pluralist perspectives, argues that engaging in interreligious dialogue is part and parcel of the ethical responsibility at the heart of liberation theology. He maintains not only that any liberation theology ought to be pluralistic, but also that any adequate theory of religious pluralism ought to include an ethical dimension oriented toward the goal of resisting injustice and oppression.
Knitter claims that, if members of diverse religions are interested as they should be in encountering each other in dialogue and resolving their conflicts, this can only be done on the basis of some common ground. In fact, the most meaningful interreligious encounters can spring from constructing shared responses to particular situations.
What is necessary is that such responses react to experiences or phenomena that are more or less universal, and suffering is just such a universal phenomenon. One of the most famous articulations of cultural pluralism can be found in Bourne's essay "Trans-National America".
Young's work, in African studies, emphasizes the flexibility of the definition of cultural pluralism within a society. In , an article in the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare offered a redefinition of cultural pluralism in which it is described as a social condition in which communities of different cultures live together and function in an open system. Madelon Stent, William R. Hazard and Harry N. House of Commons. Haug; Vol.
Americans were not looking to blend with the new arrivals ; they expected the aliens to conform to the native culture. In practice, the melting pot came to mean the process by which immigrants adapted their attitudes and behaviors until they no longer posed a threat to Anglo-American norms. Changing views on American ethnicity 15 More than anything else, the apparent willingness and ability of newcomers to adopt the ways of the hosts determined their suitability, in the eyes of the host population, for inclusion in the Republic.
Persisting language differences and loyalties to foreign governments could be sources of confrontation. German- Americans learned that, when, during the late nineteenth century, they attempted to use their mother tongue as a competing medium of instruction in some rural Midwestern schools. They had the lesson humiliatingly reinforced when they failed to recognize that American neutrality during World War I was essentially pro- English in its connotations 9. Likewise, association with ideologies deemed hostile to American institutions could bring rejection, as hundreds of radicals with varying levels of sympathy for socialism and communism found out when they were deported after the Russian Revolution.
Religious differences remained a consistent signal to Americans that a group was not fully part of the society. Before the Civil War especially, Americans saw the Pope as the most malevolent of Europe's autocrats, and the depravity of Catholicism made sense of the disturbances that had entered the society.
Irish hordes, inspired by his priests, would corrupt U. As time passed, paranoid anti-Catholicism became the province of those segments of the society that today support television evangelists and report encounters with Unidentified Flying Objects.
The tenacity with which Catholics retained their religious identity, however, continued to make them generally distrusted. Race proved even more intractable than religion as evidence of inability to assimilate.
For Americans a skin color other than white was usually a signal that a group was a poor candidate for assimilation. In keeping with the Social Darwinist assumptions of the age, some foes described non-whites as genetically or culturally inferior ; others simply deemed them too different ever to mesh with the rest of the population. The best protection for American society was to isolate such people, if they were already resident in the United States, or to exclude them, if they had yet to establish a beachhead.
The logic of the Civil War forced white Americans to recognize black Americans as citizens, but the segregation formally imposed in the South and the discrimination less formally practiced elsewhere minimized the extent to which the former would have to interact and compete with the latter ".
The concentration of Native Americans on reservations served a similar purpose The yellow skins of Chinese and Japanese immigrants labeled them as persons so used to living in base conditions that their presence would degrade the condition of native labor.
Eventually the courts decided that American law provided only for the naturalization of whites and blacks, and, in , Congress completely stopped immigration by Asians on the grounds that they were ineligible for citizenship I3. The age of European settlement of the United States ended in the first quarter of the twentieth century, after advocates of immigration restriction persuaded the society that the problems associated with contemporary arrivals from the southern and eastern regions of that continent were also the result of racial differences resistant to eradication even over time.
The racial categories under discussion were not based on color, except to the extent that they involved shades of white. The 16 Thomas J. Assimilation in an age of sharply restricted immigration Legislation passed in the s limited the number of visas issued annually for immigration to the United States to approximately , and ordered that those be allocated in proportion as various nationalities were represented in the general American population in The effect was virtually to eliminate immigration by southern and eastern Europeans, who had been present in the United States in substantial numbers only since the s.
Even groups whose principal era of immigration dated from the mid- s, like the southern Irish, the Germans, and the Scandinavians found their access restricted in comparison with that afforded people from the English home island and from Northern Ireland. Liberal Americans are embarrassed by the immigration laws their nation passed in the s.
One must admit, however, that, if the purpose of the measures was to prevent further ethnic diversification and to promote homogeneity, they were successful. Of course, the Depression and World War II, which further discouraged immigration, also contributed to the outcome.
Greater homogeneity naturally ensued, as the ethnic population of the United States became foreign- stock rather than foreign-born. In the period between and , the proportion of aliens in the population and the number of people not speaking English as their first language fell markedly. Concomitantly, alternative cultural resources, like the foreign-language press, withered l5.
Time worked to invalidate the equation of the descendants of the immigrants with the groups of their parents. Americans have rarely treated persons born in the U. Moreover, the impact of the Depression was so widespread that distinguishing its effects in terms of ethnic groups made little sense. When prosperity returned after World War II, the economic gaps separating white ethnic nationalities from the natives and from each other were substantially narrowed, and differences in the distribution of wealth within groups were becoming as significant as those between them C6.
Perhaps most important, the American demand for conformity worked because the ethnic groups internalized the values behind it. They accepted the society's implicit challenge to prove themselves assimilated. Catholics, for example, not only denied that their religion was incompatible with American governmental philosophy but also argued that its natural law tradition fit at least as well as modern Protestant thought with the ideological outlook of the Founding Fathers l7.
It is hard to miss the irony in the fact that the nation's most decorated combat unit was a regiment comprised Melting Pot or Cultural Pluralism Changing views on American ethnicity of American-born Japanese, who entered military service from the relocation camps in which their families were being held on the grounds that their race was intrinsically untrustworthy and unassimilable l8.
The "triple melting pot" of the 's s By the s Americans were not ready to reopen the gates to immigrants. They had, however, achieved the understanding that, even the most patent differences separating at least the white ethnic groups among them involved accidents more than essences. More important, academic commentators did not view the persistence of Catholic and Jewish subcommunities as troublesome and, in fact, treated them as alternatives equal in status to the majoritarian Protestant churches.
The s' outlook on ethnic conformity and assimilation was amazingly oblivious to the issue of race. The promise of harmony pertained most directly to whites, and blacks seemed not to figure in the story. Nevertheless, the framework of the argument supporting harmony among Euro-Americans was initially the model applied to justify the integration of Afro-Americans.
The basic argument heard in favor of blacks during the s was that their color reflected nothing more than the level of pigmentation in their skins. For a brief moment in the early s, Americans entertained the idea that they had become a single people.
John F. Kennedy, an Irish-Catholic American whose wealth, education, marriage, and tastes marked him as a member of the nation's social elite, sat in the president's chair, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The vision of the s, however, rested on a shaky foundation. If the success of the s' version of the melting pot was rooted in the extent to which ethnicity and religion no longer mattered, its failure lay in the fact that race still counted for so much. Treating African-Americans as white men with black skins was not the answer.
Despite the civil rights enactments of President Lyndon Johnson's administration, too many blacks were without adequate education, health care, housing, and jobs. At the time, one might have argued that, with the legal obstacles to their progress removed, blacks would duplicate the experience of the immigrants, whom they were following to the nation's cities in ever increasing numbers. Such an abstract analysis, however, was ethically and practically compromised.
Equating the status of people who had been in North America almost since the founding of the first colony with that of the most recent European arrivals denied the reality of more than three hundred years of American history. Moreover, blacks would not accept the implication that their assimilation would take several more generations. Besides supporting programs aimed generally at assisting the poor, black leaders called for policies that would specifically help their group.
In an important tactical shift, they abandoned the goal of a color-blind society. To win respect from the white majority and to promote self-respect within the black minority, they called for explicit incorporation of the African- American experience into accounts of U.
In addition, they urged that race become a criterion to be considered in the allocation of social benefits. In particular, the under-representation of blacks among recipients of awards, jobs, or promotions would constitute prima facie evidence of discriminatory practices, and, so long as it existed, blacks would be favored for the recognition in question over candidates with similar qualifications Native Americans, Hispa- nics, and, to a lesser extent, Asians sought equivalent treatment.
In the case of Hispanics, the call frequently involved a demand that Spanish-speaking students, whose numbers were increasing rapidly due to legal and illegal immigration, receive instruction in their native language as well as in English. The explicit purpose of bilingual education was to guarantee that those youngsters would not lose ground academically as they moved from one culture to another, but some advocates also saw the program as a positive action the government could take to preserve diverse cultures in the United States Minority group leaders justified their rejection of the traditional process of assimilation through adaptation on the grounds that race is a qualitatively different, less tractable, phenomenon that ethnicity.
The colors of their skins would forever set them apart ; time would not fade them white as it had muted the tones of cultural variation within the majority population. Nevertheless, their proposal constituted a challenge for white ethnics. As a principle, it impugned the validity of their separate European cultures by minimizing the loss of identity and of sacrifice felt by white immigrants.
As a programe, it threatened to put Euro-American ethnics, and especially those whose forebears had reached the United States only in the twentieth century, at a disadvantage ; they were likely to be the competitors most adversely affected by affirmative action guidelines. Changing views on American ethnicity 19 White ethnic response to the demands by the racial minorities was not uniform.
He maintains not only that any liberation theology ought to be pluralistic, but also that any adequate theory of religious pluralism ought to include an ethical dimension oriented toward the goal of resisting injustice and oppression. Knitter claims that, if members of diverse religions are interested as they should be in encountering each other in dialogue and resolving their conflicts, this can only be done on the basis of some common ground.
In a particular situation, the needs of an oppressed group can be addressed on their own terms, and the responses offered by religious communities already involved in the situation can serve as a starting point for fighting injustice and working toward liberation. Nevertheless, Knitter maintains that suffering itself is a cross-cultural and universal phenomenon and should thus serve as the reference point for a practical religious pluralism. It had to become a matter of explicit commitment to the United States and to the constitutional principles of the Revolution 3. Ruether How these shifting attitudes will affect the future of American ethnic group relations is in doubt. Their future position will probably be parallel to that of American Jews.
Cultural pluralism can be practiced at varying degrees by a group or an individual. After three generations in the country, they had achieved enough acceptance to admit an interest in their past. Being an American came to involve not only allegiance to universal principles but also sharing in what had become indigenous cultural norms. Nevertheless, their proposal constituted a challenge for white ethnics. Thomas J.
For a brief moment in the early s, Americans entertained the idea that they had become a single people.
John F. At the time, one might have argued that, with the legal obstacles to their progress removed, blacks would duplicate the experience of the immigrants, whom they were following to the nation's cities in ever increasing numbers. Exclusivist arguments maintain that, in the case of conflicting claims about, for instance, the intrinsic nature of divine reality, no more than one non-contradictory set of claims can be correct. Alston Of course, this is not to say that non-Christian traditions do not also contain patriarchal elements, and it is likewise the task of the feminist pluralist to analyze these critically cf.
Despite the resentment their progress is engendering among some whites, the new Asians, who may become the major element of the Asian-American population by the end of the century, are not likely to see themselves as a marginalized minority. The first of these two is relativism: the view that the truth of beliefs or the efficacy of practices are wholly dependent on the perspective of the religious individual and her cultural environment. The aim of such a synthetic approach, though, would not be to construct a new perspective that would incorporate claims from various religious traditions into a larger system, but rather to provide a context in which members of one tradition can both learn about and appreciate the value of other traditions and meaningfully reflect on their own beliefs. Concomitantly, alternative cultural resources, like the foreign-language press, withered l5. By extending the scope of critical feminist investigations across diverse religious traditions, the possibilities for finding constructive resources may be broadened Gross , p.
Moreover, although the vast majority of Mexican- Americans belong to families who came to the United States since or even , the people as a whole has roots in North America predating the Independence of the United States. Each of these positions exhibits the tendency of the cultural-linguistic approach to religious language, which is to minimize the importance of whatever cognitive content there may be in such language. Another commitment that serves a central role for many process philosophers is the commitment to the naturalistic worldview of modern science. Progress for the Puerto Ricans has come more slowly than for the Europeans and more quickly than for American blacks.
Concomitantly, alternative cultural resources, like the foreign-language press, withered l5.
It remains a debated point whether or not the existence of multiple conflicting belief claims necessarily decreases such justification; positions on this question range from outright denial of the possibility of justified religious belief in cases of epistemic conflict cf. For several reasons, however, the multicultural interpretation more often presents their position as equivalent to that of a racial minority. He maintains that the NOIA principle enjoins representatives of religious communities to engage in both forms of apologetics, insofar as the interest in maximizing truth that is evident in making statements of doctrine entails both internal self-evaluation and external correction. He maintains not only that any liberation theology ought to be pluralistic, but also that any adequate theory of religious pluralism ought to include an ethical dimension oriented toward the goal of resisting injustice and oppression. Indeed, he goes so far as to argue that the diversity of traditions is necessary for the task of representing the infinite within the limitations of forms comprehensible to humans. The ability to bring about such a transformation, as well as to promote a generally moral way of life, is perhaps the only common method by which one can evaluate diverse religious traditions.