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Allah: A Christian Response Hardcover – February 15, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Recent disputes like the "ground zero" mosque controversy have their roots in historical conflicts, according to Yale professor and author Volf (Exclusion and Embrace). The author, who grew up in what was then Yugoslavia, explains that Christians' ability to live in community with Muslims depends on their answer to one question: is the God of the Qur'an the same as the God of the Bible? With a conversational tone and the backing of both sacred texts, the author argues that while beliefs about God may differ, the object of worship for both religions is the same (or at least the objects are "sufficiently similar"). Such "claims are spicy," but come after careful consideration. Volf provides a thorough examination of theology to show the complexity of what seems a simple question of terminology. Perhaps the most stirring and involved debate concerns the comparison of the Christian Trinity to Allah. On such a heated topic, readers will appreciate Volf's sense of humor and optimism. Though the text may not convince those who fear religious pluralism, his timely call for Christian love toward Muslims should at least lead to further dialogue, if not increased social cooperation. This is an important book. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From the Back Cover

Three and a half billion people—the majority of the world’s population—profess Christianity or Islam. Renowned scholar Miroslav Volf’s controversial proposal is that Muslims and Christians do worship the same God—the only God. As Volf reveals, warriors in the “clash of civilizations” have used “religions”—each with its own god and worn as a badge of identity—to divide and oppose, failing to recognize the one God whom Muslims and Christians understand in partly different ways.

Writing from a Christian perspective, and in dialogue with leading Muslim scholars and leaders from around the world, Volf reveals surprising points of intersection and overlap between these two faith traditions:

    • What the Qur’an denies about God as the Holy Trinity has been denied by every great teacher of the church in the past and ought to be denied by Christians today.

    • A person can be both a practicing Muslim and 100 percent Christian without denying core convictions of belief and practice.

    • How two faiths, worshipping the same God, can work toward the common good under a single government.

Volf explains the hidden agendas behind today’s news stories as he thoughtfully considers the words of religious leaders and parses the crucial passages from the Bible and the Qur’an that continue to ignite passion. Allah offers a constructive way forward by reversing the “our God vs. their God” premise that destroys bridges between neighbors and nations, magnifies fears, and creates strife.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061927074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061927072
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and Director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. He has published and edited nine books and over 60 scholarly articles, including his book Exclusion and Embrace, which won the 2002 Grawemeyer Award in Religion.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this book Volf relies primarily on the resources of Christian theology (and only secondarily on philosophy) to argue that mainstream Christians and normative mainstream Muslims worship the same God. Acknowledging worship of a common God does not rule out significant differences between the two groups: Volf is NOT in the "all religions are basically the same" camp. When Christians and Muslims hold the belief that they worship a common God AND follow the ethical precepts of that God, summed up as loving God and loving neighbor, then they have a strong basis from which they can pursue peace and the common good with each other.

The most surprising part of the book was his analysis of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity in the light of Islamic monotheism. By his accounting, and he relies on traditional orthodox accounts of the Trinity, the affirmations and denials that make up the doctrine are well in line with Muslim teachings on the nature of God. Particularly interesting was his use of Nicholas of Cusa, a Christian theologian and philosopher who wrote eirenically toward Islam in the medieval era.

If you are looking for a thoroughly biblical and deeply Christian rationale for engagement with Muslims, you need to consider this book and its arguments. Volf's style is clear and accessible, with plenty of scholarly substance, yet written in a way accessible to non-scholars. If you take up Volf's arguments, you will find ways to maintain a deep commitment to Christ (even be an exclusivist committed to witness to Muslims) while loving Muslims in a way they will very likely perceive to be loving.
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Format: Hardcover
Using "political theology", Volf's main thesis is that the God of Christians and Muslims is the same. His approach is from that of a Christian but he is able to balance that with a few quotations from the Koran and Hadith. He argues persuasively that since "normative" Christianity's description of God's attributes is similar to "normative" Islam's description of Allah's attributes, therefore both religious traditions worship the same God.

When it comes to the issue of the Trinity (Muslims believe that Christians worship three gods instead of one), Volf brings in the masterful argument set forth by theologian Nicholas of Cusa (1401 - 1464) and that of Reformer Martin Luther. Volf gave a good summary of the explanation of Nicholas of Cusa of the Trinity to the Muslim so that there is "no dispute between Christians and Muslim about God's unity" (51). One part of his explanation is that "[n]umbers are for creatures. God is not a creature. Therefore God is beyond number - beyond the number one as much as beyond the number three" (52). It must be noted that Nicholas of Cusa came up with this ingenious explanation of the Trinity after the fall and rape of Constantinople in 1453 by the Muslim armies of Sultan Mehmed II and the Christians were trying to sue for peace. The argument by Martin Luther as explained by Volf was a bit confusing except that "the main emphasis of Luther's theology: God's unconditional love" (73). However it must also be noted that Luther's thinking was in the context of Sulaimen the Magnificent capturing Hungary and laying siege to Vienna. If Vienna falls, then the whole of Europe will follow. The Christians were again trying to find common grounds.
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Format: Hardcover
"Do we worship the same God?" This has become a hotly contested and divisive question, posed in these troubled days by many Christians about Muslims and Islam. Influential theologian Miroslav Volf, who is Henry B. Wright professor of Systematic Theology at Yale, offers an answer in his latest book, Allah: a Christian response. Volf's influence is considerable, and this book deserves careful consideration.

Three influences and one agenda

Volf comes to this question with three formative influences, and an agenda.

His first influence is a long-standing engagement with the theology of reconciliation and conflict resolution, out of which he wrote his acclaimed Exclusion and Embrace. This engagement was shaped by growing up as a Pentecostal Croatian Christian in communist Yugoslavia, and through reflection on the Yugoslav wars of 1990-1995.

Volf's second formative influence is his intensive dialogue with Muslims in recent years, particularly through the Common Word initiative.

Volf's third influence is his admired father, to whom his book is dedicated, and who taught Volf from his earliest years that Christians and Muslims do indeed worship the same God.

The agenda Volf pursues is one of political theology. He asks, "Can religious exclusivists, adherents of different religions, [i.e. most Muslims and Christians] live comfortably with one another under the same political roof?" (p.220). Volf's answer to this question is `yes': on the basis of a shared belief in the one God.

The `Commonalities Approach'

To fully appreciate Volf's argument - and its limitations - we must take careful note of his `commonalities approach'. His rules of engagement with the other are:

1.
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