Item description for Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith & Mission by Harold Netland...
Overview There's nothing new about religious diversity. What has changed is the way we think about world religions. Netland examines the emerging pluralistic worldview now challenging traditional Christian faith and missions. His incisive analysis of the nature of religious truth gives you criteria for evaluating rival claims---and provides a framework for an evangelical theology of religions.
Publishers Description A 2002 Christianity Today Book of the Year The world is filled with religions. That is not a new observation. But the way we think about religious diversity, argues Harold Netland, is new. In this book Harold Netland traces the emergence of the pluralistic ethos that now challenges traditional Christian faith and mission. Identifying theologian and philosopher John Hick as the most influential apologist for religious pluralism, Netland interacts extensively with his thought. His incisive analysis leads to a sustained response to the philosophical questions raised about the nature of religious truth, the criteria for adjudicating rival truth claims and the implications for doing Christian apologetics. In his conclusion, Netland provides us with a framework for developing a comprehensive evangelical theology of religions. This book is essential reading for students, teachers and scholars wanting a thorough analysis of our contemporary religious context and guidance for responding to it faithfully for the sake of Christian truth and mission.
Awards and Recognitions Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith & Mission by Harold Netland has received the following awards and recognitions -
Christianity Today Book Award - 2002 Winner - Christianity & Culture category
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Netland is professor of philosophy of religion and intercultural studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has spent much of his professional life in Japan. His other books include Dissonant Voices: Religious Pluralism and the Question of Truth.
Reviews - What do customers think about Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith & Mission?
The best comprehensive work on pluralism from an evangelical Mar 15, 2005
So I'm sitting at work bored, and I decide to look up a few of my favorite books on this site to see how others rated them. The best book I've ever read on religious pluralism from an evangelical perspective is Harold Netland's "Encountering Religious Pluralism." I read it almost three years ago for a seminary class, and it still affects how I approach the issues and problems that our pluralistic culture raises for someone coming from a traditional Christian perspective. Imagine my surprise to find out that no one had reviewed this fine work. Thus I took it upon myself to be the first.
Netland's strength lies in his ability to cover a broad range of topics concerning religious pluralism while remaining lucid and concise in his writing. For example, he not only gives a brief history of religious pluralism and how the church has reacted to it, but he also levels sophisticated critiques against it and even devotes a chapter to the most ardent modern day religious pluralist, the philosopher of religion John Hick. And he doesn't just give us Hick's views, he actually goes into detail into Hick's personal journey from being a conservative Christian to a radical pluralist.
Netland's critiques of Hick and other modern pluralist views are trenchant. Of course on the surface it seems very warm and fuzzy and modern to proclaim that all religions are really different manifestations of the same ultimate reality, but Netland points out the serious problems with this view. Take, for example, Hick's notion of "the Real." In Hick's view, all the religions of the world are nothing more than different cultural manifestations of human responses to "the Real." What matters is that we live a life that is not self-centered but Real-centered. But in order to avoid what would seem to criticize the differing (and often contradictory) moral claims of different religions, Hick excises all notions of morality from the Real.
Well, this is problematic. Is a Muslim view that Jews are equivalent to dogs and that there is nothing wrong with murdering them an appropriate response to the Real? What about other religious views that promote, for example, racism or violence or nationalism? Were the Aztecs appropriately responding to the Real by making human sacrifices? Netland points out the inherent contradiction here: in his efforts not to seem "judgmental" concerning a religious tradition (or to make value judgments concerning whether one religious tradition is superior to another), Hick has seemingly abandoned all rational moral judgment. According to Hick, the Real is essentially undefinable, which, in practice makes it essentially meaningless.
Furthermore, in promoting religious pluralism, one has to pass judgment on the various religions anyway, at least in regard to their exclusivist claims. It is very nice to tell me as an evangelical that my beliefs are simply one way of approaching God and that all other religions are equally valid ways. The problem, of course, is that in doing so the very core of my belief (the exclusivity of salvation through the atoning work of Jesus Christ) is thrown out. And the fact of the matter is that the world religions say fundamentally different things about ultimate reality which cannot be reconciled. The difference between a belief that ultimate reality exists as an impersonal cosmic force and a belief that ultimate reality is grounded in an infinite, personal God is equivalent to the difference between competing views as to whether the world is flat or whether it is round.
Since I read this book three years ago, I may be reading some of my own views back into Netland, but I doubt it. Whenever a Christian asks me the best book to read about religious pluralism and a proper Christian response to it, Netland is what I recommend.