Review: Is Christianity the White Man’s Religion?

Is Christianity the White Man’s Religion?, Antipas L. Harris. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2020.

Summary: Explores and answers the title question, showing the misreading of scripture and the affirmation of diverse cultures in scripture.

“Is Christianity the White Man’s Religion?” This question has been asked and the idea asserted by followers of the Nation of Islam, the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, and the Five Percent Nation, among others. It is a question facing not only Blacks, but also other peoples of color. Antipas L. Harris, the president and dean of the Jakes Divinity School affirms not only the rich heritage of the Black Church but also demonstrates that this assertion seriously misreads the Bible and its affirmation of diverse cultures.

First, though, he shows the seriousness of the challenge. He notes the departure from the church of social justice-minded millenials as they have witnessed evangelical embrace of conservative politics and pushback against peaceful protests, often opposing the affirmation that Black lives matter. He observes the rising interest in alternative religious groups. He pinpoints the need for the church to address the issue of identity. Does Jesus care about people of color? What does the call to share in the holiness of Jesus mean for one’s identity?

He observes how our reading of scripture has been dominated by a white, Eurocentric interpretation when the Bible arises in a very different culture and context and needs to be interpreted based on that context. He contends that the white Jesus of Hollywood is not the darker skinned Jesus of the Near East. Within the New Testament, Christianity spread to Ethiopia and North Africa. The gospel writer Mark was from Cyrene, in northeast Libya. From Genesis to the New Testament, there was a good deal of ethnic mixing, including in the lineage of Jesus with Rahab the Canaanite, Ruth, the Moabite, and Bathsheba whose husband was a Hittite. He also gives the lie to the curse of Ham being upon Blacks and justifying slavery.

He invites us to read the gospels through dark lenses, to consider how the both the jubilee message of Jesus and his sufferings resonated with former slaves and those who faced the lynching tree. He concludes with inviting us to see the colorful Bible, and to take this message to the streets, to partner with parachurch organizations (PCO’s) to reach disaffected youth, and that Christian leaders must focus on the humility of Jesus and “redeem the faith from perceptions that it’s no more than a mechanism of power in the hands of good ol’ boys.”

Each chapter concludes with a brief “Living it Out” reflection. A strength of this book is that it distills the best of good scholarship to answer the charge that Christianity is the white man’s religion.” It is a good book to read with someone asking the question. Yet this is far from a sterile argument. Harris invites each of us, black or white, to read the Bible with new glasses, to see how God extends his love across diverse peoples and cultures and that the message of the Bible is good news for people of every color. And he invites us to allow that reading to change us.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: Scripture and the English Poetic Imagination

scripture and the english poetic imagination

Scripture and the English Poetic ImaginationDavid Lyle Jeffrey. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019.

Summary: A collection of essays tracing the influence of the scriptures, and particularly the poetry of scripture, upon poetry in the English language from medieval to modern times.

If you are a Jeopardy fan, you may have noticed how most contestants avoid categories involving biblical knowledge. Friends of mine in university English departments tell me that there is a similar avoidance of Bible as literature courses by university faculty. This is particularly striking given the profound influence of the Bible upon English literature throughout history.

In this work, Baylor University English professor David Lyle Jeffrey focuses on a very specific aspect of that influence–the influence of the Bible, and particularly its poetic character, on English language poetry. He states:

“The central purpose of this collection of essays will be to explore some of the ways Holy Scripture has shaped the English poetic imagination, not merely through subject, cadence, idiom, and various echoes of its diction, but by effecting something deeper in the consciousness of English-speaking poets from Caedmon in the eighth century to Richard Wilbur, Anthony Hecht, and Gjertrud Schnackenberg among our contemporaries. Essentially, this involves an atunement of the vernacular English poetic imagination to biblical poetics as a wellspring of inspiration.”

Jeffrey begins with poetry in God’s own voice, the passages of scripture where God speaks, whether through the Old Testament prophets or the parables of Jesus up through the final visions of the Revelation to St. John. The remainder of the book then explores the English poetic imagination from the medieval period up to the Reformation, and then from the Reformation to the present time. The first part includes discussions of the works of Caedmon, Dante, Chaucer and Shakespeare. The second part begins with John Donne and George Herbert. In Donne, we see human love transmuted into love for the divine. In Herbert, we find one who has deeply digested the scriptures, whose poetry is a prayerful commentary of scripture as a whole. And what scripture? The following chapter explores the profound influence of the King James Version on poetry from the time of this translation forward, as perhaps the pinnacle of English expression not to be matched by modern translations, however accurate they may be.

The last chapters introduced me to modern poets I have not explored: Margaret Avison, Richard Wilbur, Anthony Hecht, and Gjertrud Schnackenberg. Foremost of these is Richard Wilbur, named poet laureate of the United States in 1987, one who Jeffrey says, “teaches us to be open ourselves to wonder.” His descriptions left me wanting to read all of them, Wilbur in particular.

He concludes with the contemporary disarray of the humanities that have ceased “being purveyors of high and noble verities for low, and often trivial, advocacies.” He sees in an academy that has dismissed the higher authority found in Holy Scripture, a place given over to the exercise of power. Against all this, he urges the community of those who are people of the Book (harking back to an earlier work) to the task of the preservation of literature in which they recognize expressions of truth that reflect that Book.

This is a book written particularly for those familiar both with the literature about which Jeffrey writes, and the academic language in which Jeffrey’s fellow academics discuss these texts. This is not so much an introduction to the influence of the Bible on poetry, as an extended rigorous disquisition for students and teachers of English literature showing from medieval to modern periods that much of English poetry cannot be well-understood apart from the biblical text that served as the wellspring of the imaginations that crafted these works.

Those without this background may despair after a few chapters. If they are hungering for a deeper engagement with literature, they might begin with other writers like Karen Swallow Prior. This is a more advanced work, especially suitable both for Christians and those who are not who are engaged in literary studies and suspect the Bible has a greater influence on the works they are studying than credited. I think Jeffrey makes a case well worth considering as well as offering a searching analysis of the parlous state of literary studies at the present time.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review e-galley of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: Bible Matters

Bible Matters

Bible MattersTim Chester. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2017.

Summary: An introduction to understanding the Bible, exploring the nature of this collection of books, what Christians believe about it and why, and how God speaks to us today through the Bible.

Many people think the Bible is an important book to read, particularly if they identify as Christians. But sometimes, understanding parts of the Bible is difficult and reading it raises as well as answers questions. Tim Chester wrote this book to help anyone who resembles this description. He is motivated because he believes that the Bible is not only God’s communication to the first readers of scripture, but also to us. Most crucially, the Bible, from cover to cover, speaks Jesus to us.

He then explores the nature of this book, a vital discussion for making sense of this book. He asserts that the Bible is:

  • Relational: its varying styles of communication are meant to lead us into relation with God.
  • Intentional: the books of scripture are written with purpose, and thus asking “why” is vital in our reading and leads us to understand the covenant character of our relationship with God.
  • Enough: all we need to know and obey God.
  • Reliable: addressing some of the questions that arise about contradictions and inaccuracies, Chester demonstrates the Bible as a trustworthy account reflecting the trustworthiness of God.
  • Accessible: Chester offers six principles for making sense of scripture.

Chester concludes this brief work first with a chapter on our disposition as we approach the Bible, which he believes the most important issue in making sense of the Bible. He contends we need to “be dying to read the Bible”–dying to ourselves, our ways of doing things, willing to turn from our sins and anticipating hearing from God. He concludes by writing of his love for the Bible:

     “What’s the Bible? It is good, merry, and joyful tidings. Why? Because it tells how Christ has overcome sin, death, and the devil. It tells how Christ has overcome sin, death, and the devil. It tells how those in bondage to sin, wounded with death, and overcome by the devil have been set free by Christ. It tells how we’re restored to life, brought to liberty and reconciled to God.

How should we respond? We cannot but be glad and laugh from the very bottom of our hearts. We praise and thank God. We’re glad, sing and dance for joy. There are only two times when I dance: when I’m with small children, and alone in my study when God’s word grabs my heart.”

Through a conversational style, personal stories as well as clear explanations of things like “plenary inspiration,” Tim Chester contagiously shares his love for the Bible, and how this book, through which God speaks, can set our hearts and feet to dancing.

The book also includes a group study guide of seven studies including a “getting started” discussion, a scripture text and discussion questions on the text and questions to go deeper and apply its meaning. This book is a good resource for the person exploring faith, a young Christian just beginning to develop habits of reading scripture, or for a group who want to enrich their understanding of the Bible.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: Money and Possessions


Money and Possessions (Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church), Walter Brueggemann. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016 (forthcoming September 2, 2016)

Summary: A survey of the teaching of canonical scripture on the subject of money and possessions focusing on these as gift of God, meant for the mutual benefit of neighbors, and marred by extractive economics creating disparities of rich and poor, privileged and oppressed.

I’ve often remarked that the Bible has more to say about money than heaven or hell or a host of other topics. What we often treat as “nobody’s business” the scriptures treat as a matter of deep concern to God. And that is clearly evident in this new book by venerable Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann.

Brueggeman proposes six theses that he believes summarize the teaching of the biblical texts:

  1. Money and possessions are gifts of God.
  2. Money and possessions are received as rewards for obedience.
  3. Money and possessions belong to God and are held in trust by human persons in community.
  4. Money and possessions are sources of social injustice.
  5. Money and possessions are to be shared in a neighborly way.
  6. Money and possessions are seductions that lead to idolatry.

The rest of the book considers the different parts of the canon and how these illustrate and develop these theses. He begins with the Pentateuch and the tenth commandment’s prohibition of coveting, emblematic of the breakdown of neighborly sharing of resources. He explores the development of the kingdom of Israel, the hopes of justice and the ways kings become involved in “extractive” practices (one of Brueggemann’s favorite words for social injustices around money). The psalms focus on both Torah and Temple and source money and possessions in the gifts of God, the worship of God, and the trust reposed in kings. Turning to the prophets, we see their message against idolatrous wealth, the loss of exile, and restoration and another chance at neighborliness. The five festal scrolls include the tale of Ruth, a marvelous illustration of loss and redemption with economic implications.

Turning to the New Testament, we see how much money and possessions play a role in the teaching of Jesus who proposes an alternative economy for an alternative kingdom. In Acts we witness the extension of neighborly community against the backdrop of the ultimate extractive empire of imperial Rome. Paul’s works speak of divine generosity (“grace”) to be mirrored in human generosity epitomized in Paul’s collections for Jerusalem. The Pastorals and James warn of the dangers of riches and partiality to the rich and the requirements of true religion. Revelation speaks of the ultimate alternative to Rome (Brueggemann takes a preterist reading believing all or most of Revelation was primarily relevant to the time in which it was written).

This is not a highly technical work which makes it useful for lay adult education efforts. Brueggemann is not bashful when it comes to drawing contemporary parallels to the biblical text and a group using this book might take issue with his social justice positions. Where it is most useful is in identifying the many biblical texts that deal with the subject of money and possessions and providing helpful commentary and context for discussing these passages. If indeed this is used as a resource for the study of and use of scripture in the church as is the intent of this series, it can be quite helpful in summarizing what we find in scripture, and proposing a basic rubric of biblical theology of money and possessions around his six theses.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher via a pre-publication e-galley through Edelweiss. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


What Do These Have in Common?

Bible and Fifty

You might say both have very frank portrayals of human sexuality and some steamy reading (you have read Song of Solomon have you not?) and you would not be wrong. What may surprise you is that both made the top ten most challenged books of 2015 with Fifty Shades coming in number two and the Bible number six. Here is the list, including reasons challenged, which is compiled by the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom each year and published during National Library Week:

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

I was actually disappointed that no one complained about the sexually explicit or violent material in the Bible, which is honest about both. Basically, sexuality-related concerns, language, violence, and religious viewpoints dominate the list.

There are several things about the challenged book list that bother me both about the phenomenon of challenging books and compiling lists.

  1. It strikes me that this is another instance of manufactured outrage. This past year there was a grand total of 275 challenges, down from 311 the previous year. This is 5.5 challenges per state, and less than one challenge for every million people in this country. There are nearly 120,000 libraries of various kinds in this country. This is one challenge for every 436 libraries. While challenging books is just plain stupid, which I will say more about, this does not seem to be such a big crisis, and is decreasing in frequency. Compared to opioid addiction, gun violence, labor and sex trafficking, or our broken political discourse, this rates pretty far down the list.
  2. What one doesn’t hear is that a challenge is simply a request that materials be removed from a library or school because of content or appropriateness. I’m curious about whether any books have actually been “banned”. My suspicion is that a number of these complaints come when the books are assigned and there are no alternates provided, or when parents, students, and/or teachers handle such situations ineptly.
  3. I wonder if those who challenge books realize that they are probably vastly expanding the circulation of a book. This years list will certainly be featured in late September during “Banned Books Week” which I contend is a misnomer because books are rarely if never banned in this country, and in fact the books’ circulation and sales are enhanced during these weeks as the books are featured at bookstores and by online vendors. (For a person of faith like myself, I wonder if this will increase sales of the Bible as well, which I think would be cool.)
  4. I do think the attempt to challenge or ban a book is stupid and subject to the “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” rule, illustrated by the inclusion of the Bible in this list. It is also stupid because books are so easily accessible through a variety of means including a few taps on the screen of a smartphone.
  5. Finally, this obscures the hidden ways books are “banned” by those who curate libraries and bookstores. New authors, or writers voicing an unpopular opinion may be “banned” even if their book is technically for sale on Amazon. All librarians and booksellers decide not to acquire some books, but there is no outrage about this. The only outrage is when a relatively popular book, or trending book among the literati, is challenged, even when it is realized that the challenge is futile.

What is fascinating is that we rarely hear of books banned as part of the systematic suppression of human rights in others countries. Nor are those the books featured in the Banned Books Week promotions, in most cases. So while I will admit to being a fan of libraries and think banning books to be stupid as well as unconstitutional, I wonder if the ALA and all who care about literacy might spend more time during National Library Week and throughout the year talking, not of “banned” books but better books. We can read only so many books in our lives and associations like the ALA can serve us by pointing us to things worthy of our attention (and in fact many libraries are doing just that). Those are the lists I want to see!

Reading Books We Don’t Like?

True confessions time. I get some of my blogging ideas from the good folks over at Bookriot who host some of the most interesting conversations about reading for the general reading public. Today they posted an article on “The Benefits of Reading a Book You Don’t Like.”

The article talked about exploring what it is that makes us uncomfortable and what we find that is not working for us in books we don’t like rather than simply dismissing them with “I don’t like that.” And it strikes me that such an exploration may reveal qualities both in the work and in ourselves and that these can enrich and enlarge our worlds even when this is uncomfortable.

Fate of AfricaI can’t say, for example, that I liked reading The Fate of Africa recently. It was a thoroughly depressing account of corrupt leadership in country after country, the devastation of AIDS and genocides, with occasional glimmers of hope. Yet I think we are woefully ignorant of the importance of this huge continent, the richness of its peoples and cultures, and how we cannot divorce the “fate” of Africa from our own.

SolitudeI did not enjoy Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of SolitudeFundamentally, the story is the chronicle of a truly dysfunctional family that would be rich material for a Dr. Phil show. I also have to say I’m not a fan of magical realism and both of these facts probably reveal something about me. But discussing this book on and offline revealed why others like it, the implicit critique of colonialism that runs through it, as well as the fact that families and sexuality can sometimes be just about as bizarre as they are portrayed here.

Jim CrowReading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow was just plain uncomfortable as a white man in a middle class suburb. Whether I agree with all of her analysis or not, I have to ask what is wrong with a culture that incarcerates a substantially greater portion of people from one minority ethnicity, even while the incidence of drug use may be as prevalent in my own suburb if only more cleverly hidden. And it was chilling to read about the erosion of our Fourth Amendment protections against illegal searches and seizures that are integral to policing strategies in some communities.

The last kind of book I think of are books by those who do not agree with me. Reading books by writers like Daniel Dennett or E.O. Wilson, who are often quite critical of Christians help me understand the source of their animus, some of which might be justified even while i believe some is built on misconceptions of Christian belief. Likewise, reading authors from different theological persuasions and parts of the church is important, and even those of other faiths. It keeps me from caricaturing their beliefs and helps me understand why they might think differently.

Admittedly, a number of the books I read are those I think I’ll like. But sometimes it is the ones I don’t like that have left the most lasting impressions and force me to re-examine my own conceptions of the world. Reading the Bible actually falls in this category for me, which may be a surprise, but this is true because the Bible doesn’t sanitize human ugliness, it doesn’t portray a tame and domesticated God, and it makes uncomfortable ethical demands upon my life. It is a collection of books out of other times and cultures that sometimes can be difficult to understand and sometimes uncomfortable because I do understand it, which has been to my profound benefit.

I would be curious, how have you benefited from books you didn’t like, and what were these books?

Review: The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott

The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott
The Global Diffusion of Evangelicalism: The Age of Billy Graham and John Stott by Brian Stanley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The title of this book proposes an ambitious project and I am impressed with how well Brian Stanley pulls this off in under 250 pages of text. While focusing on the evangelical landscape in the U.S. and U.K.(hence Graham and Stott), he gives us a helpful overview of the global spread of the evangelical movement from 1945 to the year 2000.

He opens with exploring the dynamics of this period–communications, the spread of evangelicalism in the English-speaking world, and the growing evangelical influence of the majority world. He then goes back to the beginning of this period and explores the differentiation of evangelical from fundamentalist in its US, British, Canadian and Australian forms, marked most notably in the US with the establishment of Christianity Today as the print organ of the forming evangelical consensus.

The next chapter on missions, evangelism, and revival focuses on the development of Billy Graham’s global ministry, the World Evangelical Fellowship, the Evangelical Fellowship of India, and the East Africa Revival, and finally the work of Scripture Union in Africa. “Scholarship, the Bible, and Preaching” focuses on the beginnings of an evangelical effort to engage the biblical scholarship of the day and produce scholarly work consonant with an evangelical view of scripture, including the New Bible Commentary. Stanley explores the British controversy over inspiration and the later American one centered around Fuller Seminary over the issue of inerrancy. The chapter concludes with profiling the development of expository preaching as an expression of evangelical biblical conviction in the ministries of Martyn Lloyd Jones, John R. W. Stott, and James Boice.

Chapter 5 profiles the major evangelical apologists of the period beginning with Cornelius Van Til, Carl F.H. Henry, Edward J Carnell, Francis Schaeffer, and Leslie Newbigin. He also cites the philosophical work of Alvin Plantinga, and the appropriation by evangelicals of High Church Anglican, C.S. Lewis, whose approach to the Bible was anything but evangelical. Chapter 6 explores the history of world missions consultations and the increasing social justice emphasis beginning from a bare mention at Berlin 1966, to a greater majority world presence and emphasis at Lausanne 1974 and the increasing integration of evangelism and social justice efforts since.

Chapter 7 covers the global spread of pentecostalism and that rapid growth of pentecostal movements in the majority world. This often gets short shrift in Western contexts but is critical to understanding global evangelicalism. Then the book concludes with raising the disturbing question of whether evangelicalism is simply diffusing, or in fact disintegrating as a cohesive movement with a coherent theological stance. The book ends with the provocative idea that this may not be something decided in the West but in the Majority world.

I found this book a fascinating overview of this decisive period–how decisive, the next 50 years may tell. It makes one give thanks again for the vision and character of so many profiled in this book, notably John Stott and Billy Graham, but also many other scholars, pastors, evangelists and missionaries of this period. At the same time, I think the book shows evidence of, but fails to diagnose the critical issue of the lack of consensus with regard to what is meant by the inspiration, authority, and inerrancy (or infallibility, or trustworthiness) of the Bible that was oft fought over and also the source of an interpretive pluralism that could lead to disintegration of this movement. Does final authority lie with the individual interpreter, within “interpretive communities”, or in the tradition of biblical interpretation? This is an issue discussed at length in Molly Worthen’s Apostles of Reason (reviewed here). Perhaps an exploration of this issue in detail would move beyond the descriptive character of this work and yet this issue is important in what seems a growing movement of frustrated evangelicals to Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. That being said, Stanley has given us a masterful overview of the development of evangelicalism up to the turn of the century.

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Review: Reading Scripture Together: A Comparative Bible and Qur’an Study Guide

Reading Scripture Together: A Comparative Bible and Qur'an Study Guide
Reading Scripture Together: A Comparative Bible and Qur’an Study Guide by Barbara J Hampton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While scholars and pundits debate whether in fact we are facing a “Clash of Civilizations” (in Samuel Huntington’s words) between the West and Islam, there is a different kind of encounter that is possible in universities in many parts of the world. Christians and Muslims attend classes together, form friendships, compete on intramural teams, and stay up late together sometimes, talking about the deepest questions. While such conversations can’t resolve the violent clashes occurring elsewhere, no one knows what might happen where conversations of respect and mutual understanding across religious differences occur.

Barbara Hampton has given us a wonderful resource to foster such conversations in her study guide, Reading Scripture Together: A Comparative Bible and Qur’an Study Guide. This guide was developed out of Barbara Hampton’s work with College of Wooster students while she served as faculty advisor for the InterVarsity chapter at this school. The guide consists of seven studies, each of which parallels a text from the Bible and the Qur’an, along with a summary “Challenge” and paired “Witnesses” from Christian and Muslim perspectives. These studies can be pursued over seven weeks, or if participants elect, fourteen, doing Christian scripture one week, and the Qur’an the next.

The studies are organized around seven key aspects of Christianity and Islam where the two faiths both touch and differ: Abraham and Isma’il, the Name and being of God (and what can be known of this), Jesus as Incarnate Son or Prophet, the nature of salvation, whether Jesus was in fact crucified, the nature of the scriptures of each faith, and the ethics of the faith, captured in the beatitudes versus the call to jihad understood both as spiritual struggle and at least defensive war with unbelievers.

The person considering using this guide should be forewarned: Hampton has sought to be extremely even-handed in the presentation of these texts and witnesses. Some of the “witnesses” include former Christians who have embraced Islam and well as former Muslims who have become Christians. Equally, her questions about each text follow an “inductive” format and deeply probe the meaning of each. This makes sense as a prerequisite to genuine dialogue, yet may be unsettling for some committed believers of either faith. Yet a genuine search for truth as well as a human rights commitment to a person’s freedom to change their beliefs recognizes that changing one’s beliefs may be the consequence of such dialogue.

This is reflected in Hampton’s own premises. She believes the search for truth matters and that different religions are not “different paths up the mountain.” She is a convinced Christian and this comes through in the leaders notes and bibliography (forty pages of this hundred page book). While the leaders notes provide in depth commentary from both Christian and Muslim perspectives, it is evident that she envisions this dialogue being initiated by Christians who are at least open to or praying for their Muslim friends to embrace the Christian faith. What she advocates is not aggressive proselytizing or argumentation, but thoughtful consideration of the differences between the two faiths, as these emerge from the texts, in terms of what makes more sense out of one’s life and the world. What the leaders notes do not discuss is the possibility of Christians embracing Islam, and it occurs to me that perhaps she may have refrained from dealing with this issue in her attempts to remain as even-handed as possible while writing this guide as a committed Christian.

If one is looking for an absolutely “neutral” resource for such a dialogue, this is not that. Hampton believes that religion concerns matters of truth about which we ultimately must choose. At the same time, this guide represents the fruit of field-tested, respectful Muslim-Christian dialogues around scriptural texts that is an important resource in promoting respectful understanding between Christians and Muslims that takes the truth claims of each faith seriously.

[In the interests of full disclosure, the reviewer has had a long time friendship with the author including collaboration on various projects. However I purchased my own copy of this book.}

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