LEROY S. ROUNER

Leroy S. Rouner was Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the United Theological College, Bangalore. He did his undergraduate work at Harvard before taking his B D at Union Theological Seminary and PhD at Columbia University. He has written on the Philosophy of Religion for journals in India and the United States. He contributed to Madras Christian College’s Rethinking Our Role; edited Philosophy, Religion, and the Coming World Civilization (Essays in honour of William Ernest Hocking).

Sri Ramakrishna, a nineteenth-century Indian saint and mystic, experienced God directly and immediately in the context of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam....

Sri Ramakrishna was the supreme example of a religious phenomenologist, and phenomenology is the methodology of love. It is the practical application of the New Testament injunction to lose one’s life, for the sake of the neighbour and in Christ’s name, if one would truly find it. This means that neither the attack of religious imperialism, nor the defense of religious exclusivism can be a valid Christian attitude toward interreligious relationships. The method of love in relation to the neighbour who is a religious stranger is to lay aside one’s own perspective, even one’s own convictions and beliefs, and to take on the life and world and beliefs of the neighbour stranger. In this context, it is possible to discover the continually unfolding truth to which Christ promised the Holy Spirit would lead us. And only in this context it is possible to know the full meaning of the age-old Christian affirmation that God has not left himself without witnesses in any age or human community....

[In] Sri Ramakrishna’s story... [our] fellow Christians may find the authentic Spirit of the one true God at work in their inner dialogue with this Hindu neighbour/stranger. In the midst of this meeting and knowing, that Spirit may lead us into some as yet undiscovered new truth. ...38