by Winfried Corduan
Can a sincere Zoroastrian be saved? Is there truth in non-Christian religions? Many have attempted to answer such questions with some form of exclusivism, inclusivism, or pluralism.
InterVarsity Press, P. O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL, 2002, 248 pages, $20.00.
—Reviewed by David K. Strong, Simpson College and Graduate School, Redding, Calif.
Can a sincere Zoroastrian be saved? Is there truth in non-Christian religions? Many have attempted to answer such questions with some form of exclusivism, inclusivism, or pluralism. Corduan believes that evangelical preoccupation with the question of salvation has limited the opportunity to build fruitful relationships with those from other religions. He therefore seeks to broaden the discussion by exploring a number of topics that at first seem comparable. In the process, however, he clearly distinguishes between Christian concepts and those of other religions and thereby builds the reader’s confidence in the uniqueness and truth of Christianity.
Over the years scholars have proposed different relationships between Christianity and the other religions, ranging from complete discontinuity or complete continuity to simply the superiority of Christianity. In contrast, Corduan argues for discontinuity with some commonalities (24-30). In subsequent chapters he demonstrates the strikingly different understandings of Christianity with regard to general and special revelation, morality, the need for salvation, salvation itself, and the future. Many religions, for example, have scriptures, but the nature and functions of these scriptures vary widely. In Buddhism different groups are able to select their own scriptures; in Islam the Qur’an is divinely dictated; in Christianity the Bible is both divinely inspired and humanly written. A common refrain rings throughout the book: similar concepts take on different meanings in different religious contexts.
A Tapestry of Faiths is particularly helpful because it forces us to consider the complexity of Christianity’s relationship to the religions. Thus in considering the important question of whether a person can receive salvation without explicit knowledge of the gospel, the author phrases the question not one, but six different ways (136). He then demonstrates how each question casts different light on his ultimate answer.
In the end, the author aims at effective evangelism. He endeavors to identify areas of commonality upon which Christians can build understanding while maintaining Christian truth.
He consequently embraces dialogue aimed at understanding what we each believe, and he counsels humility. He further cautions evan-gelicals about glibly embracing popular forms of spiritual warfare, because by demonizing other religions, they hinder sensitive interaction. Given the pluralistic world in which we find ourselves, A Tapestry of Faiths is a welcome addition to the growing literature on Christianity and world religions.
Check these titles:
McDermott, Gerald R. 2000. Can Evangelicals Learn from World Religions: Jesus, Revelation and Religious Traditions. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Tennent, Timothy C. 2002. Christianity at the Religious Roundtable: Evangelicalism in Conversation with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.
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