Introducing World Religions: A Christian Engagement.
By Charles E. Farhadian. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015. Pp. xxiv, 600. $49.99.
At last Christians have a world religions textbook that does what this kind of textbook should do for Christians (or anyone): (1) offer a balanced, holistic, cross-cultural presentation of what the modern term "religion" means to those who use it, along with some semantic history; (2) provide multidiscipline perspectives (psychological, sociological, anthropological, historical, environmental, economic, phenomenological) for understanding religion, with exemplary scholars and history for the approach of each discipline; (3) emphasize the persistence of indigenous/primal religion, in contrast with that of religion that travels the world (as people travel the world); (4) survey both synchronically and diachronically the major religious traditions of the world, highlighting their main discernments, practices, and movements and including well-chosen lists of key terms and timelines; (5) include excerpts of important scriptures that serve student learning exceptionally well; (6) deliver brilliant photographs, maps, and other images that enable the author's prose to come alive; and (7) cover religious traditions of China and Japan in ways authors of similar textbooks have not.
And I have not yet begun to describe what I like best about Farhadian's book! What particularly delights this reader, along with what is listed above, is his starting each chapter with "a contemporary snapshot," his explaining the source of the Western name of a particular world religion, along with the tradition's own name for itself, and finally his critical reflections on how and for what purpose Christians can engage respectfully and empathetically with those of another faith tradition. Decisive also are Farhadian's wisely selected quotations from contemporary leaders, theologians, and missiologists. New religious movements also receive their due here. To finish it off, Farhadian's textbook supplies ample notes, a bibliography, an excellent glossary of terms, and, for readers and teachers, substantial web material through Baker Academic Textbook eSources. Everything a Christian reader or student needs is here!
Farhadian, professor of world religions and Christian mission at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, is an experienced fieldworker in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a focus on Islam. He is also a seasoned Christian liberal arts teacher, having taught at Calvin College prior to his move to Westmont College. As editor or coeditor of Introducing World Christianity; Christian Worship Worldwide: Expanding Horizons, Deepening Practices; The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion; and a forthcoming volume "Ring of Fire: Popular Christian Movements in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore," Farhadian consistently asks Christians to address challenging themes of contextualized Christianity. For offering us the best of his scholarship in anthropology of religion, missiology, history of Christian mission, and world Christianity, Farhadian is to be congratulated and thanked. This excellent textbook, with its clear and helpful instruction, is a great gift. It belongs in every Christian teacher's hands and classroom in this era of globally interactive people of faith.
Reviewed by: Diane B. Obenchain Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA
Diane B. Obenchain is professor of religion and director of the China Initiative at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.
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|Author:||Obenchain, Diane B.|
|Publication:||International Bulletin of Missionary Research|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2016|
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