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Hindus and Christians: A Century of Protestant Ecumenical Thought.

The author of this important book is an ordained Methodist minister from Sri Lanka. He is Director of the SubUnit on Dialogue of the World Council of Churches. Appropriately therefore, in the first two parts of the book he tells the story of the developing theological approach to other faiths as this is reflected in the great conferences, with special reference to Hinduism. Commission Four of the World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh in 1910 argued on the basis of both scholarship and firsthand experience for a positive approach to Hinduism, an approach that contained the seeds of dialogue and that was taken up by Nicol Macnicol at Jerusalem in 1928. However, these hopeful developments were overshadowed by Tambaram 1938, where the baleful influence of Hendrik Kraemer prevailed. After the War Indian Christian thinkers, notably M. M. Thomas and P. D. Devanandan, emphasized the need for Christians to share in the task of building the newly independent nations--a task for which Kraemer's theology was patently inadequate. Kraemer's influence still prevails in some circles, even though theological debate has long since overtaken it.

In the last part of the book the author argues that the conferences whose work he has surveyed evaded the urgent question of a theological evaluation of the continuing existence of a plurality of religions. We urgently need a theology of pluralism and this has implications for our Christology. Up to this point your reviewer finds his argument lucid and convincing. In the final part he considers some of the main contemporary contributions to this debate--by Hick, Knitter, Panikkar, and others--but here he is perforce attempting to cover too much ground too sketchily. A more robust exposition of his own views would have been more valuable as a conclusion.

Roger Hooker spent thirteen years as a CMS mission partner in North India. He was then for three years on the staff of the Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham, England. For the last nine years he has been involved in full-time ministry among people of other faiths in the Anglican Diocese of Birmingham.
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Author:Hooker, Roger
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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