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Contemporary Muslim and Christian Response to Religious Plurality.

Contemporary Muslim and Christian Response to Religious Plurality. By Lewis E. Winkler. Wipf & Stock, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-6089-9742-8. ix and 350 pages. Paper. $39.00.

Lewis Winkler, a lecturer in Theology, Church History, and Ethics at the East Asia School of Theology in Singapore, has produced an imaginative work on Christian-Muslim dialogue. Building upon the oft-quoted saying of Hans Kung, "No peace among the nations without peace among the religions," Winkler puts forward an opportunity to help Christians and Muslims think outside the box and engage in fresh thinking. Winkler commences his project within the framework of "religious pluralism," that is, the reality of various faith traditions, each making its own truth claims, to "encourage more democratically free, morally just, and religious plural human communities" (10). He follows this with a review of a historical and thematic survey of twentieth and twenty-first century Christian-Muslim dialogue in Chapter Two.

The heart of Winkler's exploration are Chapters Three through Five. Here he elucidates the theology of the Christian theologian, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and the Muslim scholar, Abdulaziz Sachedina. Pannenberg's Trinitarian theology is explored primarily through his work in Toward a Theology of Nature. Sachedina's thinking is reviewed through a close reading of The Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism. Ultimately, Winkler concludes that through Sachedina's understanding of the Islamic concept of fitra, and Pannenberg's notion of "prolepsis" there is affirmation of God's good work through humanity (230-231). The final two chapters of the book seek to apply Winkler's hopeful, but critical, notions of interfaith dialogue, as gleaned by both Pannenberg and Sachedina, to traditional Christian and Muslim doctrines, as well to several important sociological issues, such as the treatment of religious minorities, women, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (310-311).

One might wonder why Winkler has chosen to put these two individuals into dialogue with one another. These scholars never met, nor did they ever engage each other's works. Pannenberg himself never wrote specifically about Christian-Muslim relations. Furthermore, the book wanders through a variety of theological topics. More focus--to produce a tighter work--would have been helpful. Nevertheless, this book is a creative reflection on two important Christian and Muslim thinkers.

Winkler is not interested in engaging in Christian-Muslim dialogue merely to rush to the least common denominator in order to agree upon a doctrine of God, or so that communities might simply "play nice." Rather, through his own Christian evangelical commitments, he argues that open and honest dialogue about theological matters provides opportunities for communal engagement that might strengthen the civic good. This certainly is a perspective that should be applauded and supported.

David D. Grafton

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

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Author:Grafton, David D.
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2015
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