Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Theology

Editor-in-Chief: Taliaferro, Charles

1 Issue per year

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Multiple Religious Belonging: Hermeneutical Challenges for Theology of Religions

Daan F. Oostveen
Published Online: 2017-01-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2017-0004


The phenomenon of multiple religious belonging is studied from different perspectives, each of which reveals a different understanding of religion, religious diversity and religious belonging. This shows that the phenomenon of multiple religious belonging is challenging the applicability of these central notions in academic enquiry about religion. In this article, I present the different perspectives on multiple religious belonging in theology of religions and show how the understanding of some central scholarly notions is different. In Christian theology, the debate on multiple religious belonging is conducted between particularists, who focus on the uniqueness of religious traditions, and pluralists, who focus on the shared religious core of religious traditions. Both positions are criticized by feminist and post-colonial theologians. They believe that both particularists and pluralists focus too strongly on religious traditions and the boundaries between them. I argue that the hermeneutic study of multiple religious belonging could benefit from a more open understanding of religious traditions and religious boundaries, as proposed by these feminist and post-colonial scholars. In order to achieve this goal we could also benefit from a more intercultural approach to multiple religious belonging in order to understand religious belonging in a nonexclusive way.

Keywords: multiple religious belonging; theology of religions; religious diversity; religious traditions; religious boundaries; hybrid religiosity


  • Ammerman, Nancy T. Everyday religion: observing modern religious lives. Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.Google Scholar

  • Bochinger, Christoph. “Multiple Religiöse Identität Im Westen; Zwischen Traditionsbezug Und Individualisierung.” In Multiple Religiöse Identität: Aus Verschiedenen Religiösen Traditionen Schöpfen, edited by Reinhold Bernhardt and Perry Schmidt-Leukel, 137-161. Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Berghuijs, Joantine. “Multiple religious belonging in the Netherlands: an empirical approach to hybrid religiosity.” Open Theology 2017: 19-37.Google Scholar

  • Braak, André van der. “Buddhist-Christian Belonging and the Nature of Religious Belonging.” (unpublished manuscriptGoogle Scholar

  • Brück, Michael Von. “Identität und Widerspruch. Bemerkungen zu einer Theologie multipler religiöser Identität.” In Multiple Religiöse Identität : Aus Verschiedenen Religiösen Traditionen Schöpfen, edited by Reinhold Bernhardt and Perry Schmidt-Leukel, 291-328. Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Chung, Hyun Kyung. Struggle to be the sun again: introducing Asian women’s theology. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1990.Google Scholar

  • Cornille, Catherine, ed. Many Mansions? Multiple religious belonging and Christian identity. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2010.Google Scholar

  • D’Costa, Gavin, and Ross Thompson. Buddhist-Christian dual belonging: affirmations, objections, explorations. Farnham / Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2016.Google Scholar

  • Daggers, Jenny. Postcolonial theology of religions : particularity and pluralism in world Christianity. Abingdon / New York: Routledge, 2013.Google Scholar

  • Donaldson, Laura E., and Pui Lan Kwok. Postcolonialism, feminism, and religious discourse. New York: Routledge, 2002.Google Scholar

  • Drew, Rose. Buddhist and Christian?: An exploration of dual belonging. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, 2011.Google Scholar

  • Dupuis, Jacques. “Christianity and Religions.” In Many Mansions? Multiple Religious Belonging and Christian Identity, edited by Catherine Cornille, 61-75. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2010.Google Scholar

  • Egnell, Helene. Other Voices: A Study of Christian Feminist Approaches to Religious Plurality East and West. Swedish Institute of Mission Research, 2006.Google Scholar

  • Fletcher, Jeannine Hill. “Shifting identity: the contribution of feminist thought to theologies of religious pluralism.” Journal of feminist studies in religion, 1985 (2003), 5-24.Google Scholar

  • Gentz, Joachim. “Religious Diversity in Three Teachings Discourses.” In Religious Diversity in Chinese Thought, edited by Perry Schmidt-Leukel and Joachim Gentz, 123-139. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013.Google Scholar

  • Grant, Rhiannon. “Being Fluent in Two Religions.” Journal of the Sociology & Theology of Religion, 1 (2015): 1-23.Google Scholar

  • Gross, Rita M. “Excuse Me, but What’s the Problem? Isn’t Religious Pluralism Normal?” In The Myth of Religious Superiority : Multifaith Explorations of Religious Pluralism, edited by Paul F. Knitter, 75-87. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2005.Google Scholar

  • Hedges, Paul. “Particularities: Tradition-Specific Post-modern Perspectives.” In Christian Approaches to Other Faiths, edited by Paul Hedges and Alan Race, 112-135. London: SCM, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Hedges, Paul. Controversies in interreligious dialogue and the theology of religions. London: SCM Press, 2010.Google Scholar

  • Heelas, Paul & Woodhead, Linda. The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion Is Giving Way to Spirituality. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.Google Scholar

  • Hedges, Paul, and Alan Race. Christian approaches to other faiths. London: SCM, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Hick, John. Philosophy of religion. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963.Google Scholar

  • Hick, John, and Paul F. Knitter. The Myth of Christian uniqueness: Toward a pluralistic theology of religions. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1987.Google Scholar

  • Kalsky, Manuela. Maak het verschil!: over religieuze diversiteit en het verlangen naar een nieuw wij. Amsterdam: VU University Amsterdam, 2012.Google Scholar

  • Kalsky, Manuela. “Embracing Diversity: Reflections on the Transformation of Christian Identity.” Studies in Interreligious Dialogue 17:2 (2007), 221-232.Google Scholar

  • King, Ursula. “Feminism: The Missing dimension in the Dialogue of Religions.” In Pluralism and the Religions: The Theological and Political Dimensions, edited by John D’Arcy May, 40-58. London: Cassell, 1998.Google Scholar

  • Kwok, Pui Lan. “Feminist Theology as Intercultural Discourse.” In The Future of Dialogue: Pluralism or an Eventual Synthesis of Doctrine? edited by Susan Frank Parsons. Cambridge / New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.Google Scholar

  • McGuire, Meredith B. Lived religion: faith and practice in everyday life. Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Moyaert, Marianne. Fragile Identities: Towards a Theology of Interreligious Hospitality. Amsterdam / New York: Rodopi, 2011.Google Scholar

  • Phan, Peter C. “Multiple religious belonging: opportunities and challenges for theology and the church.” Theological Studies, 64 (2003), 495-519.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Premawardhana, Devaka. “The unremarkable hybrid: Aloysius Pieris and the redundancy of multiple religious belonging.” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 46:1 (2011), 76-101.Google Scholar

  • Race, Alan. Christians and religious pluralism: patterns in the Christian theology of religions. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1983.Google Scholar

  • Saracino, Michele. Being about borders: a Christian anthropology of difference. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2011.Google Scholar

  • Schmidt-Leukel, Perry. “Multireligiöse Identität. Anmerkungen aus pluralistischer Sicht.” In Multiple Religiöse Identität: Aus Verschiedenen Religiösen Traditionen Schöpfen, edited by Reinhold Bernhardt and Perry Schmidt-Leukel, 243-266. Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Schmidt-Leukel, Perry. “Religious Diversity: What Is the Issue? Some General Reflections from the Perspective of the Philosophy of Religion.” In Religious diversity in Chinese thought, edited by Perry Schmidt-Leukel and Joachim Gentz, 17-26. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013.Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2016-05-01

Accepted: 2016-09-23

Published Online: 2017-01-13

Published in Print: 2017-01-26

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 38–47, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2017-0004.

Export Citation

© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Anke I. Liefbroer, André F. M. van der Braak, and Manuela Kalsky
Journal of Contemporary Religion, 2018, Volume 33, Number 3, Page 407

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in