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Controversies in Interreligious Dialogue and the Theology of Religions.

Controversies in Interreligious Dialogue and the Theology of Religions. By Paul Hedges. London: SCM Press, 2010. Pp. viii, 286. Paperback 25[pounds sterling] / $30.

How Christians view other religions in view of the salvation given by God in Jesus Christ is one of the most neuralgic points in theology today. Three decades ago, British theologian Alan Race proposed a tripartite classification of Christian theological views on this question as exclusivist (no salvation outside an explicit confession of Christ as Savior), inclusivist (all salvation comes through Christ but can be present in some measure in mysterious ways in other religions), and pluralist (there are many pathways to God's salvation). In the midst of globalization and migration, a reexamination of the question is something truly needed.

In this volume, British theologian Paul Hedges provides a very useful description and assessment of the current state of the question. He chronicles the changes and critiques that have challenged Race's classification. Most important, he opens up a deeper and more complex understanding of the pluralist option, suggesting ways in which a Christian believer might embrace this position without relinquishing the uniqueness of Christ.

Hedges suggests that a new two-part classification might better depict the current discussion, focusing upon the "religious other." One part focuses on "radical openness," with his renewed understanding of the pluralist position, and the other focuses on "radical difference," in a newly formed category he calls the "particularist" option. The latter grows out of postliberal thinking that holds that religious traditions are, in the end, incommensurable and that we can talk credibly about only the tradition in which we stand. In a balanced way, he assesses the strengths and weaknesses of both these emerging pluralist and particularist options.

The book is organized in a way to be used as a textbook, and I would recommend it as a reliable guide to this important and complex discussion.

Robert J. Schreiter is Vatican II Professor of Theology at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and co-editor of Studies in Interreligious Dialogue.

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Author:Schreiter, Robert J.
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2011
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