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A Christian Theology of Religions: The Rainbow of Faiths Paperback – November 1, 1995
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In this book Hick has taken a different tack toward this goal. Instead of being didactic and scholarly, he posits and replies to questions from two fictional characters Phil and Grace, corresponding to philosophers and theologians, and argues the issues of pluralism. The result is a lively and readable dialogue that tries to anticipate and answer many of the readers' questions.
As always Hick is a joy to read and his points are, needless to say, well-taken.
A) The "fruits" (think "fruits of the Spirit") of the members or followers of each religious tradition are more or less indistinguishable from each other.
B) The traditional Christian conceptualization of God fails to hold up against this observation, as well as other observations and facts.
After outlining his argument, and describing his hypothesis of religious pluralism, Hick proceeds to enter an engaging dialogue with two fictional characters: first with Phil who brings up philosophical criticisms, and later with Grace, who argues the theological ones. These criticisms are actual criticisms which have been raised against Hick from a wide variety of philosophers and theologians. The dialogue is conducted respectfully, and really helps flesh out Hick's pluralistic hypothesis.
Finally, Hick presents his vision of how a pluralistic attitude would not only prevent the strife which has typically existed between religions, but would allow each religion to grow and learn from the others while maintaining its unique and treasured identity. Hick concludes with a series of quotes and passages from non-Christian scriptures and authors which give Christian readers a small sample of the varied and useful resources they might encounter if they adopt a pluralistic attitude and decide to "travel abroad in the spirit".Read more ›
I suppose it also says something good about the book that I kept writing comments in the margins of the book -- not just because I may include a few comments in my dissertation (it's a thousand words too long already), but more because some of his comments seem to demand a response.
So let me offer a bit of one here.
Hick repeats his critique of "inclusivism" that it is like "epicycles" used to save a dead theory, an exclusivism that has changed in response to the allegedly novel challenge of world religions. "We should be warned that such theological epicycles tend to appear in the last days of a dying dogma!"
Hick should realize by now that (pardon the jargon) ontological inclusivism, the idea that there is important truth in non-Christian religions, appears in the Church fathers, not to say (as I argue) in the New Testament itself. This criticism of inclusivism is simply based on a false assumption, and I wish one of his sock puppets had strongly challenged him on the point.Read more ›