Crosscultural communication and interconnection have never been greater in the history of the world. Yet the potential for intercultural conflict accompanies every advance. And religious belief, which lies at the heart of most cultures, often appears to contribute to such unrest and at times even to violence. In this fascinating and ground-breaking study, Vinoth Ramachandra explores the complex nature of conflict among the major world religions of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, and also between them and the rising tide of secularism. Challenging stereotypes built up on every side, he raises questions about the seemingly inevitable clash of cultures due to their respective religious commitments. He puts to the test the belief that a secular society that rejects universal truth claims can sustain a truly tolerant and pluralistic society. He passionately demonstrates how the distinctive message of Christianity concerning the uniqueness of Jesus Christ actually provides a basis for a truly democratic and multicultural society.
Vinoth Ramachandra lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He holds both a B.S. (summa cum laude) and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of London. An Anglican lay-theologian, writer, teacher and human rights advocate, he combines multiple interests in his international work with IFES, a global partnership of over 150 university-level Christian movements.
Drawing from his London Lectures in Contemporary Christianity series,
Ramachandra, the South Asia regional secretary for the International Fellowship
of Evangelical Students, skillfully demonstrates his view that Christianity
alone provides the foundation for a multicultural society. Ramachandra
discusses in depth the social, cultural, historical and religious components
that make up Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity, noting how each major
religion is unique and how these religions and their followers often promote
negative stereotypes about the others. In his third chapter, "The Jesus
Enigma," Ramachandra intensely scrutinizes Jesus Christ, describing Jesus'
controversial practice of accepting Jews, non-Jews, women and outcasts into his
company. Jesus' outlandish claims about himself, says Ramachandra, were
balanced by his humility, though both extremes only served to further alienate
him from the religious leaders of the day. Asserts the author, "... this
combination of an other-oriented lifestyle with self-directed claims is what
makes Jesus of Nazareth utterly unique." Ramachandra discusses how conversion
and culture relate to each other, and how readers might proclaim the Christian
message to others of different faiths. While carefully written, only scholars
or other erudite readers will appreciate the dry, detailed explanations of the
world's religions and their divergent belief systems. (Sept.) Copyright 2000
Cahners Business Information.
"Ramachandra . . . skillfully demonstrates his view that Christianity alone provides the foundation for a multicultural society."
"This book is a superb treatment of critical issues facing Christians today. Both its angle of vision and its tone are just right to help us begin a conversation about religious pluralism and crosscultural apologetics. I am adding it to my required reading for a course by that title and recommending it warmly to friends!"
"Ramachandra writes with eloquence and irony. . . . His writing is an extension of his life: an adventure of discovering and helping others to discover--in a divided world, disfigured by evermore appalling conflicts--the joys of friendship with God and with people of all sorts."
"This book is wide-ranging, refreshingly bold, starkly honest and often unexpected as it advocates the power of the message of Jesus Christ to overcome many actual dilemmas, and highlights the many failures of Christians to follow consistently their high calling."
"A remarkably perceptive and stimulating study from an author who is rooted in a Third World context and understands how issues of faith affect real issues in the lives of individual nations."
" Faiths in Conflict? is a powerful, enlightening book which explodes the myth that religion has been and continues to be the major cause of conflict. . . . Christians of all denominations and men and women of good will of all religious traditions must read it. It brings interreligious interchange and the challenge of Christian mission to an entirely new level of maturity with honesty, love and insight."
"Ramachandra has taken one of the most important issues for the twenty-first century--the conflict of faiths, ideologies and cultures--and shattered our easy assumptions. . . . Avoiding simplistic secular and relativist arguments, this book takes seriously both the radical nature of the life and teachings of Jesus and the complex nature of our contemporary conflicts. It could reshape Christian thought about culture and bring Christians, East and West, to a new type of unity."
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