Skip to content
BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access May 11, 2016

Interspiritual Theology as a Radical Potential for New Vistas in Theological Thought

Rory McEntee
From the journal Open Theology


Is a transreligious theology possible? A theology that is not beholden to any particular religious tradition? If so, what would it be? What would it look like? How would it be done? Perhaps more importantly, why would it be done? That is, whom would it be for? Is it a part of a larger (and perhaps privileged) pursuit of human philosophical wisdom and progress? Or are there real world communities in need of such a thing? Could it be helpful to religious traditions themselves? These are some of the questions pursued here. In response, I offer the possibility of an “interspiritual theology,” a theology that opens widely—in the spirit of exploration and hypothesis—to such questions, while aiming not to lose the heart of the theological endeavor, articulated by Evagrius of Pontus as, “The one who truly prays is a theologian; the one who is a theologian, prays truly.” As one possible strand of transreligious theological thought, interspiritual theology finds resonance with contemporary academic scholars Robert Neville, Wesley Wildman, John Thatamanil, Beverly Lanzetta and the late Raimon Panikkar, as well as real-world movements on the ground springing up outside of academia. Interspiritual theology is explained as being inter-religious, interdisciplinary, pragmatic, contemplative, and prophetic. An academic endeavor that is in partnership with (but not beholden to) religious traditions, in service to spiritual communities outside of academia, in dialogue with secular sciences, partaking of transformative wisdom, and committed to the prophetic task of service to humanity and the transformation of all of its social, cultural, political, and economic structures to reflect the deep human values of dignity, equality, compassion, love and wisdom—while also pursuing the transreligious project of understanding “as fully as possible the nature of ultimate reality.”


Abhishiktananda. Saccdiananda: A Christian Approach to Advaitic Experience. ISPCK, 1984. Search in Google Scholar

Cousins, Ewert. Christ in the 21st Century. New York: Continuum, 1998. Search in Google Scholar

Delio, Ilia. Christ in Evolution. Maryknoll: Orbis, 2008. Search in Google Scholar

Griffiths, Bede. The Marriage of East and West. Templegate Pub, 1982. Search in Google Scholar

Heschel, Abraham J. The Prophets. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. Search in Google Scholar

Lanzetta, Beverly. Emerging Heart: Global Spirituality and the Sacred. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007; available at Search in Google Scholar

Martin, Jerry L. “What is Theology Without Walls?” Search in Google Scholar

McEntee, Rory and Adam Bucko. The New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Living. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2015. Search in Google Scholar

Neville, Robert. Existence: Philosophical Theology, Vol. 2. Albany: SUNY Press, 2014. Search in Google Scholar

Neville, Robert. Religion: Philosophical Theology, Vol. 3. Albany: SUNY Press, 2015. Search in Google Scholar

Neville, Robert. Ultimates: Philosophical Theology, Vol. 1. Albany: SUNY Press, 2014. Search in Google Scholar

Panikkar, Raimon. Opera Omnia: Vol. 1, Mysticism and Spirituality: Part One: Mysticism, Fullness of Life. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2014. Search in Google Scholar

Panikkar, Raimon. The Cosmotheandric Experience. New York: Orbis Books, 1993. Search in Google Scholar

Panikkar, Raimon. The Intra-Religious Dialogue. Mahwah: Paulist Press. 1999. Search in Google Scholar

Teasdale, Wayne. The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions. Novato: New World Library, 1999. Search in Google Scholar

Thatamanil, John. “Comparative Theology after ‘Religion’.” In Planetary Loves: Spivak, Postcoloniality, and Theology, edited by Stephen Moore and Mayra Rivera. New York: Fordham University Press, 2010. Search in Google Scholar

Thatamanil, John. “God as ground, contingency, and relation: Trinitarian polydoxy and religious diversity.” In Polydoxy: Theology of Multiplicity and Relation, edited by Catherine Keller and Laurel C. Schneider, 239-257. New York: Routledge, 2011. Search in Google Scholar

Thatamanil, John. The Immanent Divine: God, Creation, and the Human Predicament. Minneapolis: Forest Press, 2006. Search in Google Scholar

West, Cornel. The American Evasion of Philosophy. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989. 10.1007/978-1-349-20415-1Search in Google Scholar

Wildman, Wesley. Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry: Envisioning the Future for Philosophy of Religion. Albany: SUNY Press, 2010. Search in Google Scholar

Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2016-1-21
Accepted: 2016-4-27
Published Online: 2016-5-11

©2016 Rory McEntee

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.

Downloaded on 10.12.2022 from
Scroll Up Arrow