What is Christianity's relation to other religions? It's a question of significant importance in today's world. Karkkainen seeks answers in diverse writings from Justin Martyr to contemporary religious thinkers, and examines church interaction through the ages. He then offers a comprehensive survey of major movements and theologians, including Barth, Kung, Tillich, Pannenburg, and others. 428 pages, softcover from InterVarsity.
Early in the nineteenth century Ernst Troeltsch, the great German liberal thinker, published the influential essay "The Place of Christianity Among the World Religions." The question of the relation of Christianity to other religions is every bit as relevant as and perhaps even more urgent today than it was then. Beginning with a consideration of the biblical perspective, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen surveys the variety of diverse answers proposed by teachers of the church down through the ages. His reviews include the writings of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria, as well as those of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and a broad selection of later Protestant and Catholic thinkers. He completes the historical section with an astute look at the radical challenges of Enlightenment and classical liberalism and the emergence of the fulfillment theory of religions. The bulk of Kärkkäinen's work provides a detailed and comprehensive survey of major confessional movements and theologians' opinions on the contemporary scene. Kärkkäinen provides succinct and trenchant descriptions of a wide diversity of theologians, including Karl Barth, Hendrik Kraemer, Paul Althaus, Karl Rahner, Hans Küng, Jacques Dupuis, Gavin D'Costa, Paul Tillich, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Lesslie Newbigin and M. M. Thomas, as well as Sir Norman Anderson, Clark Pinnock, Amos Yong, John Hick, Stanley Samartha, Raimundo Panikkar, Paul Knitter, Millard Erickson, Harold Netland and Vinoth Ramachandra. An Introduction to the Theology of Religions is an indispensable guide for anyone seeking to grasp and work their way through the full range of alternatives offered in answer to the question, What is the relation of Christianity to other religions?
Veli-Matti Karkkainen is professor of systematic theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He has published numerous articles in international journals of theology. His books include (Baker), (Baker), (UPA), (InterVarsity Press), (Ashgate), (Baker) and (Liturgical Press).
Anyone, whether pastor or teacher, student or scholar, interested in gaining a good working knowledge of one of the most challenging but stimulating fields of study among the theological disciplines will assuredly benefit froma reading of this book. It may be particularly well-adaptable as a college or seminary textbook.
"This introduction is a major contribution to the growing body of literature in theology. It is a well-researched and balanced approach to the theology of religions that is acutely relevant for the religious pluralistic world in which we are living. This book sets a standard for all future work in this area. It is an absolute must for serious students in theology, missions and church history."
"Professor Karkkainen continues his excellent theological cartography in this intelligent and illuminating survey of theologies of religions. Anyone who wants to explore this territory will find this map to be clear, compact and discerning--in short, invaluable."
"This is a most useful book. It provides an up-to-date and comprehensive survey of the theology of religions. Dr. Kärkkäinen covers the major themes and introduces the main thinkers who have contributed to the theology of religions in the past century. He writes lucidly and presents the views of each scholar in a fair and balanced way. Anyone--and that should include all of us--who is concerned to follow developments in the theology of religions will find this to be a reliable and informative guide."
"Given today's theological agenda, it is of utmost significance to take into account the challenge of a Christian theology of religions. Dr. Karkkainen, a prolific and creative theologian in this field, takes the issue of religious pluralism seriously from biblical, historical and contemporary perspectives. His treatment of the Christian theology of religions in diverse contexts is comprehensive, impressive and compelling. His book is worth reading and discussing as a platform for improving Christian attitudes toward religious others. His book can also be used as a textbook in the fields of theology and religious pluralism. "Although the author's intent is to introduce diverse aspects of a theology of religions, he actually goes much further. In so doing, he does not confine the future of a Christian theology of religions to the intellectual play of pluralists, but instead builds on the common interests of various Christian traditions (whether Catholic, Protestant, liberal, conservative or Pentecostal) and their attempt at steering a course between the particularity of the gospel and the universality of its mystery. In this regard, Dr. Karkkainen makes plausible a systematic discourse about religious others as a theological discipline with the task of listening attentively to the mystery of God in the midst of people of other faiths. "
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