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Document Details :
Title: Imagination and Religious Commitment in the Pluralist Theology of Religions
Author(s): MERRIGAN, Terrence
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 27 Issue: 3 Date: fall 2002
The attempt to provide a definition of religion has long occupied theologians and sociologists. There now exists a broad consensus that ‘religion’ is best seen as a ‘family resemblance concept’. This is the approach adopted by John Hick in his influential book, An Interpretation of Religion (1989). As Hick explains it, the term ‘religion’ describes a whole range of 'traditions, movements and ideologies' which do not display 'a common essence' but which form 'a complex continuum of resemblances and differences analogous to those found within a family.' As a 'starting point' from which one might begin to chart the phenomenon of religion, Hick proposes Paul Tillich’s notion of 'ultimate concern.' The ‘religious’ is that which is deemed permanently and ultimately important. More recently, Paul Griffiths has described a religion as 'a form of life that seems to those who belong to it to be comprehensive, incapable of abandonment, and of central importance to the ordering of their lives.' Indeed, Griffiths observes, for those who 'inhabit' a religious tradition, the idea of abandoning it is regarded as
'tantamount to the abandonment of their identity.' We might express the same thought by saying that authentic religion, whatever form it takes, is all-consuming. In the words of Bernard Lonergan, it involves the 'total commitment' of the religious person.