Piety and Responsibility: Patterns of Unity in Karl Rahner, Karl Barth, and Vedanta Desika, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Piety and Responsibility

Patterns of Unity in Karl Rahner, Karl Barth, and Vedanta Desika, 1st Edition

By John N. Sheveland


224 pages

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This book analyzes the writings of Karl Rahner, Karl Barth, and Vedanta Desika to disclose how each construes "piety" and "responsibility" as integral to each other. Each theologian expresses a fundamental unity of love of God and love of neighbour. Sheveland explores this unity in ecumenical and interreligious frameworks, showing how these authors privilege theology as practice, enactment, or simply as ethical. He uses the Renaissance genre of musical polyphony as a methodological tool by which to explore the aesthetic quality and the similarity-in-difference of the theological voices being compared. Polyphony's application to comparative theology includes the avoidance of caricature, domestication, and antagonism. In place of these is offered a fundamentally aesthetic paradigm by which to hear theological voices in terms of their unity-in-distinction.


'This probing study examines the centrality of love and service within the work of three significant theologians, Protestant, Catholic, and Hindu. Sheveland's work advances the project of comparative theology, demonstrating differences and commonalities among faiths.' Christopher Key Chapple, Loyola Marymount University, USA 'To bring Karl Rahner and Karl Barth into fruitful dialogue with one another, as this beautiful book does, is already a remarkable achievement: more remarkably still, however, in relating the two of them to the work of Vedanta Desika, John Sheveland shows how much more illuminating and challenging the conversation becomes when it is conducted interreligiously as well as ecumenically'. The Revd Fergus Kerr OP, University of Edinburgh, UK 'This work of John Sheveland sets a new standard of careful analysis and sheer excellence for comparative theology. He explores the essential structure of religious anthropology and spirituality constituted in the double relationships to God and fellow humans. He interweaves the voices of Catholic (Rahner), Protestant (Barth), and Hindu (Desika) with magisterial authority and polyphonic finesse. He moves forward from statement, to dialogue, to reverently critical conversation. In the comparative crescendo these independent voices blend to reveal remarkable analogies across boundaries. This book can supply the underpinnings for a course and even a program in theology for our pluralistic age. Bravo.' Roger Haight, S. J. Union Theological Seminary, USA 'This book […] develops fully an example of polyphony and makes a valuable contribution to the emerging 'school' of 'Comparative Theology.' Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 'Sheveland carries out this tour de force with a masterful hand and enviable elegance… Sheveland’s contributions are enormous not only in his theological comparison among three different theological visions but also in his theological method for carrying out this comparison. Us

About the Author

Dr. John Sheveland is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Gonzaga University. He received a Master of Arts in Religion from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. in Systematic and Comparative Theology from Boston College. At Gonzaga University he teaches courses in Christian Theology, Interreligious Dialogue, and World Religions. His research interests include Christian-Hindu and Christian-Buddhist Comparative Theology, Comparative theological anthropology, and theological responses to religious violence. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the College Theology Society, and the Catholic Theological Society of America, and has contributed scholarly articles to journals such as Studies in Interreligious Dialogue, Louvain Studies, The Way, Expository Times, and to several edited books.

About the Series

Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies

The Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies series brings high quality research monograph publishing back into focus for authors, international libraries, and student, academic and research readers. This open-ended monograph series presents cutting-edge research from both established and new authors in the field. With specialist focus yet clear contextual presentation of contemporary research, books in the series take research into important new directions and open the field to new critical debate within the discipline, in areas of related study, and in key areas for contemporary society.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Theology