Keith Ward on concepts of God

Following on the previous post, this video of theologian Keith Ward talking with Robert Wright has a good discussion–mostly at the beginning–of how we might talk about different religions promoting worship of the same God. Ward goes beyond the Western monotheistic faiths and offers reasons for thinking that the ultimate reality of some Eastern religions is not necessarily distinct from the theistic God.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I think we have to respect the fact that there are genuine differences between traditions, and I reject a too-simple pluralism that irons out all the interesting differences among them. At the same time, we often treat some differences as absolute when in fact they may be different aspects, or partial apprehensions, of a single truth. For instance, Christians often contrast the “personal” God of theism with the “impersonal” ultimate reality affirmed in some Indian traditions. But, of course, sophisticated theologians know that God can’t simply be described as a “person” in the same way that an individual human being can–God is personal but also “beyond personality,” to borrow an expression from C.S. Lewis. Likewise, many Indian traditions affirm that the ultimate reality has a personal aspect, or that it relates to humans in a way that is analogous to personal relationships. So what looks at first glance like an irreconcilable difference may turn out to be a set of complementary insights.


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