Launch of the Journal of Comparative Theology

Posted on March 26th, 2010 | Filed under Best Practices/Non-Profit, In Print: New Books, InterViews

The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue salutes its colleagues at the Journal of Comparative Theology on the release of their inaugural issue. Below, we feature the introduction to their premiere issue and description of JCT more broadly.


It is with great excitement that we publish this premiere issue of the Journal of Comparative Theology. We hope that this publication will serve as an accessible and constructive venue for sharing research within the flourishing academic sphere of comparative theology, which to date has lacked a central organ for the collection and dissemination of comparative theological discourse. Although several prestigious journals publish articles relating to the field, the Journal of Comparative Theology will remain exclusively dedicated to this burgeoning discipline and its emerging scholarly community.

The subject of this issue was stated in the form of a question: "Why comparative theology today?" This growing field is blossoming for a reason, and we sought input from a variety of voices as to why and how the discipline is taking shape. We believe that the three articles published do so in unique ways.

Samuel J. Youngs argues in The Frontier of Comparative Theology that contemporary pluralism as an international phenomenon is definitively changing the ways in which scholars study religion and theology. Youngs begins by examining three approaches to religion by drawing upon New Religious Movements, the "New Atheist" response to 911, and Peter Berger's "counterpluralist animus"‐‐that is, increasing pluralism has led to the strengthening of fundamentalism. How have these three approaches, in turn, affected the ways in which scholars study religion and theology today? While suggesting that academia ought to move beyond the typically Christian ways of studying theology and religion and while advocating for a sympathetic approach to the study of "other" religions, Youngs argues that the emerging discipline of Compartive Theology‐‐where the "scholar reaches out from their own faith tradition ... in order to intentionally and sympathetically interact and exchange with other systems of theological belief in a comparative way"‐‐is a positive response to the complex realities of the twenty‐first century.

Locating himself in the academy, Benjamin B. DeVan struggles to carve out space for the contentious “bridge” of theological comparison. In so doing, he rubs up against the contours of the study of religion itself: its murky identity, its deep subjectivity, its definitional politics of exclusion and its crossdisciplinary fluidity. Acknowledging this ever‐shifting terrain, DeVan nevertheless finds solid footing in the comparativist camp. On his view, the very act of comparative theology opens up the possibility for a richer appreciation of self and Other in their respective journeys of faith. Prizing this mutual sharpening as a vehicle for enhancing “our capacity to love and enjoy God,” DeVan unapologetically invests the discipline with pronounced theological commitment – a position often met with alarm, even derision, by the professed neutrality of secular academia.

In Comparative Theology as a Devotional Practice, AnnMarie Micikas looks at the tension between common and particular notions of truth in Buddhist and Christian traditions. Drawing upon two Buddhist thinkers, she employs this distinction as a framework for discussing culturally and linguistically informed realities against concepts of “universal" truth. Micikas then compares these ideas to several biblical passages on the relationship between human limitation and divine revelation. She posits that Comparative Theology may be particularly valuable as a devotional practice for Christians seeking to continually deepen their sense of humility and reach outside of their own particularities, such that they may expand their vocabularies and enrich their ways of thinking and meditating upon religious truth.

This premiere issue was unique in that we had asked scholars to submit articles that addressed a specific topic of inquiry. However, moving forward, the journal will be open to rolling submissions of articles that fall within the field of comparative theology. These include unique scholarship, research, book reviews, and critical responses to previously published articles. Of course, this does not preclude the possibility of another issue that is focused on a certain topic. Please see the website (www.comparativetheology.org) for further information.

Finally, we would like to thank Francis X. Clooney for his valuable support and encouragement in moving forward with this journal.


The Editorial Board

Josh Daneshforooz
Erik Resly
Paul Nicholas
Axel Takács

2 Responses to “Launch of the Journal of Comparative Theology”

  1. Daniel says:

    What kind of qualifications must one have in order to contribute articles to this journal? Do you exclusively publish work by PhD’s and PhD students or are you more open to layman contributions?

    • Editor says:

      All articles are peer-reviewed; they are reviewed based on their content and quality, not the degrees held by those who submit them. In fact, all names (and qualifications) are removed from the articles before they are reviewed.