Religious ‘Multi-Identity’


  • Reinhold Bernhardt University of Basel



religious identity, alterity, multiple belonging, multireligiousity, hybridity, syncretism


The contribution deals with forms of religious identity which draw from the sources of different religious traditions from the perspective of Christian theology-of-religions. The first section reflects on the understanding of ‘religious identity’ and asks how processes of identity-formation take shape. In the second part, forms of ‘multireligious identity’ are described in relation to the religio-cultural contexts in which they are developed. After these phenomenological excursion, in the third section critical voices come to the fore. One the one hand apologists of Christian religion are afraid of syncretism, on the other hand postmodern advocates of difference reject concepts of identity. The middle course between those positions lies in a concept of religious identity in interreligious openness. According to such an understanding religious identity not only allows for religious otherness but regards it to be an important resource for widening, deepening and intensifying Christian self-understanding. In the last part questions concerning the evaluation of multireligious identity-formations are discussed.

Author Biography

Reinhold Bernhardt, University of Basel

Reinhold Bernhardt is Professor of Systematic Theology/ Dogmatics, University of Basel (Switzerland). He obtained his DTh (1989) and habilitation (1998) from the Faculty of Theology of the University of Heidelberg, and was Dean of the Theological Faculty, Basel, from 2006 to 2008. He has been editor of Theologische Zeitschrift from 2004 till today. He is editor of the series ‘Beiträge zu einer Theologie der Religionen’ and co editor of the series ‘Scientia & Religio’ and ‘Studien zur systematischen Theologie und Ethik’. His work focuses on theology of religions and the Providence of God/‘Divine action’.



How to Cite

Bernhardt, R. (2014). Religious ‘Multi-Identity’. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 27(2), 132–152.