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Allah: A Christian Response Hardcover


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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: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


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

After reading this book we can understand each other more respectfully.
Sergey Shyndriayev
This is commendable in itself, but his method fails him badly, as he repeatedly overstates what is common and overlooks what is different.
Mark Durie
Though in both religions, God commands his followers to love, only in Christianity does God ask believers to love their enemies.
Daniel A. Walter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Book Reader on March 13, 2011
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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52 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Alex Tang on March 17, 2011
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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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robert G. Leroe VINE VOICE on June 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading this book on Muslim-Christian conflict, I think the author's unstated thesis is: "I can't change other people's attitudes and actions, I can only change mine." Volf's concern is not what Muslims think of us, or even whether they might be inclined to meet us halfway (although that is his hope) in dialogue and mutual tolerance. He can only speak as a Christian. But this limitation exposes the weakness of his argument in an otherwise excellent book. So what if our "circle" includes them; it matters little if their circle excludes us...unless we love them so much that they come around, which appears to be Volf's sincere hope.

In order to promote solidarity, Volf argues that Christianity and Islam have the same God: "Christians and Muslims name in different names and worship in different ways the one true God." However, there is no consensus among Muslims as to whether Allah is the God of Christians (Jews are omitted for the most part from the discussion, as are all other faiths). And some Christians respond to terrorism by concluding "their God can't be ours." Fear of Islam (however justified) does not welcome reconciliation.

A stumbling block to harmony is the Trinity. In order to defend a Trinitarian position against the charge that Christians say but don't mean that God is "one", Volf gives the best explanation I've read of the Trinity. Muslim criticism is toward a misguided view of the doctrine, Volf claims...which even many Christians admittedly get wrong; it's a difficult doctrine to grasp. Volf insists, "the talk about `three Persons' does not subvert God's oneness...God is beyond number" (which seems to imply 1 + 1 + 1 = 1). He speculates that the term "person" may not accurately describe what is largely inexpressible (language has limitations).
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