Revelation and claims to finality : Assumptions underlying fundamentalism in Christianity and Islam

The self-awareness of both Christianity and Islam is determined by the conviction of each that it is the definitive, irreplaceable and unsurpassable representation of legitimate religion, based on God's definitive word to mankind – in Jesus Christ and the Qur'ān respectively. In theological, philosophical, and colloquial language this is widely named as the claim to absoluteness, or even exclusiveness, but these terms are misleading. According to the particular understanding of revelation in the two religions, we would do better to speak of their competing claims to finality and universality. In taking this approach, we discover that both Christianity and Islam undergo analogous historical disappointments, theoretical irritations, difficulties of communication, and identity problems, which they try to overcome in community life as well as in theological reflection. At present, the Christian churches and Islam are obviously affected by special forms of fundamentalism resulting from their basic claims.
Christentum wie Islam sind in ihrem Selbstverständnis von der Überzeugung bestimmt, die endgültig legitime, unersetzliche und unüberbietbare Religion zu repräsentieren, begründet auf Gottes Wort an die Menschheit, nach christlichem Verständnis in Jesus Christus, nach muslimischem im Koran. Theologisch, philosophisch und umgangssprachlich bezeichnet man dies weithin als Absolutheits- oder gar Ausschließlichkeitsanspruch. Aber diese Begriffe sind missverständlich. Angemessener und aufschlussreicher ist es, dem jeweiligen Anspruch auf Endgültigkeit und Universalität nachzugehen.


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