Item description for The Wide, Wide Circle of Divine Love: A Biblical Case for Religious Diversity by W. Eugene March...
Overview The issue of religious pluralism has become a focal point of discussion in our post-9/11 world and in this book Old Testament scholar Eugene March seeks to help us understand this pluralism in the context of current biblical scholarship. March hopes the book will "bring research and experience together to enable the understanding and practice of genuine tolerance founded upon a positive appreciation for God's providential gift of religious pluralism."
The issue of religious pluralism has become a focal point of discussion in our post-9/11 world, and in this book Old Testament scholar W. Eugene March helps us understand this pluralism in the context of current biblical scholarship. March, who was awarded a fellowship from the Henry Luce Foundation for his work in this area, hopes this book will bring research and experience together to enable "the understanding and practice of genuine tolerance founded upon a positive appreciation for God's providential gift of religious pluralism."
From Publishers Weekly Making a biblical case for religious diversity is a tall order. But this
small, information-packed book, by a retired professor of Old Testament
studies at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, delivers. March begins with his
own experience, admitting that as he interacted with people of other faiths,
some of his "official theology," which denied the validity of other people's
faith, "simply did not compute." From there, he takes readers through stories
from the Old and New Testaments demonstrating how God's love always creates a
wider circle than humans expect. With a conviction that "we belong to God-all
of us," March explains why a literal reading of the Bible, ignoring historical
context, is misleading and causes some Christians to spend their lives
focusing on who is and is not accepted by God. If a hard-and-fast rule is
necessary, March suggests living by the "Rule of Love"-love God and love your
neighbor as yourself. The final chapter encourages lively conversation-between
Christians who differ in theology, with people of other faiths and with those
who profess no faith. Doing that, he says, will help everyone better
understand "the wideness of God's love." Accessible and academically
rock-solid, this book is a must-read for anyone who feels conflicted or
troubled by "one way" theologies. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business
Citations And Professional Reviews The Wide, Wide Circle of Divine Love: A Biblical Case for Religious Diversity by W. Eugene March has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 01/01/2005
Publishers Weekly - 11/29/2004 page 38
Library Journal - 01/15/2005 page 121
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Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.26" Width: 5.74" Height: 0.46" Weight: 0.46 lbs.
Release Date Dec 22, 2004
Publisher PRESBYTERIAN PUBLISHING #86
ISBN 0664227082 ISBN13 9780664227081
Availability 60 units. Availability accurate as of Oct 22, 2016 09:47.
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More About W. Eugene March
W. Eugene March is A. B. Rhodes Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and author or coauthor of "Israel and the Politics of Land", "God's Land on Loan", and "Exodus from Scratch: The Old Testament for Beginners".
W. Eugene March was born in 1935.
W. Eugene March has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Wide, Wide Circle of Divine Love: A Biblical Case for Religious Diversity?
Not useful; don't waste your time Jan 29, 2007
If you already buy into religious pluralism, then this book will either do nothing for you or will somewhat affirm your belief. If you reject religious pluralism, you will find here a poor argument for it. The heart of the message of this book is that God loves everyone; God desires a relationship with everyone. What is left somewhat unclear is what, exactly, March means by this. On the one hand, he encourages Christians to evangelize. On the other, he asks (p. 138) "What, then, some will ask, is the advantage of being a Christian?" and then he answers with "None, except having a God-given license to love one another freely and with abandon, and to talk about it." I am not sure why he thinks such a license would be unique to Christians, or why Christians should evangelize when there is so little advantage to being a Christian.
Some of March's arguments in support of his case are weak. For example, he interprets the rainbow that God placed in the sky after the flood as a sign of God's love for all mankind. Yet, the Noahic story involves God's destruction of nearly the entire human race because of their wickedness. While God loves everyone, that doesn't mean he accepts everyone as righteous.
Most interesting was March's handling (chapter 10) of John 14:6: "Jesus said to him [Thomas], 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" March tries to make this non-exclusive by talking about the context in which the book of John was written (as opposed to the context in which Jesus was speaking), and focusing on the first part of the verse. The most exclusive part of the verse, the "No one comes..." part, he quickly dismisses by saying it was "to underscore the call to continued loyalty on the one hand and on the other to claim a philosophical tradition about the Logos that was widely held among first-century Jews and Greeks." Yet, John refers to Jesus as the Logos, not Jesus himself, and the context in which Jesus was speaking wasn't a philosophical discussion on what the Logos was.
To summarize, what might be at the very top of March's opponent's list of arguments, March deals with poorly. For the remainder of his case, he fails to anticipate and address responses from opposing points of view. What the book may do is remind Christians to approach people of other faiths with love. Perhaps too often Christians look to win arguments rather than show love. Yet, preaching the love of God is pretty central to Christian teaching so March's book is hardly necessary from that point of view. Beyond that message, March doesn't really have much to say. All in all, I wouldn't recommend you waste your time reading it.
A courageous Christian theologian provides Biblical support for what many believe Feb 18, 2006
Many committed Christians have serious problems with exclusivity interpretations firmly held by other committed Christians. How can Christians reconcile the particularity of a handful of Biblical texts which seem to support exclusivity with other Biblical texts which express God's incomprehensible, universal love for all of creation? Eugene March is a well respected, reformed theologian who has both the wisdom and the courage to lead readers into this important conversation. His book is a valuable resource for those who believe that one's committment to follow Jesus Christ does not require us to denounce and exclude persons from other faiths and cultures, but instead challenges us to develop an appreciation for the breadth and beauty of God's gift of religious pluralism.
Religious Pluralism Sep 17, 2005
I enjoyed this wonderful book, and its review of pluralism and diversity in religion. The author is a very intelligent and gifted Presbyterian pastor, teacher and writer.