Possibility of John Hick’s Threefold Typology & Religious Pluralism: A Critical Study.

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Fumihiko Matsumoto


A careful investigation on the concepts of Exclusivism, Inclusivism, and Religious Pluralism within a framework of Threefold Typology on soteriological grounds has shown some difficulties to achieve Hick’s mission for social development. That is to say, he strives to persuade fellow Christians to view the other world religions as equally authentic as Christianity and to enhance a peaceful co-existence with adherents of different religions and minimize religious conflicts in both community and global levels. Focusing on the philosophy of religion, theology of religions, and religious experience, this research explicates Kantian distinction between noumenon and phenomenon, Copernican revolution, the problem of conflicting truth-claims, epistemological accounts of faith. Hick’s criteriology to assess world religions and alternative approaches to Threefold Typology is also shown to analyze the strengths and shortcomings of Threefold Typology. By differentiating ‘self-committing-affirmation’ and ‘attitude and action,’ it revealed that Hick had placed some saintly figures in the category of Exclusivists and Inclusivists who should be praised and not be condemned by Hick’s own criteria. The research found the urgent need to analyze what Hick emphasized on soteriological grounds. After clarifying the arguments of impasse or deadlock of the Typology by other scholars, ‘teleological/existential grounds,’ which refer to the mere ‘transformation’ from self-centeredness to compassionate-centeredness as common potentialities to spiritually and morally grow as individuals, leaving aside ‘salvation’ controversy. The research concludes that the Threefold Typology on teleological/existential grounds becomes a more viable taxonomy to achieve Hick’s intention; the harmonious living with adherents of different world faiths and to direct ecumenical and inter-religious communications with mutual respect at both local and global levels.

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Matsumoto, F. (2022). Possibility of John Hick’s Threefold Typology & Religious Pluralism: A Critical Study. Saengtham College Journal, 14(1), 58–73. Retrieved from https://so01.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/scj/article/view/259817
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