BENJAMIN B. DEVAN: “As Iron Sharpens Iron, So Does One Religious Tradition Sharpen Another”Last modified: October 3, 2010
“Why Comparative Theology Today?” Because, to modify Proverbs 27:17, as iron sharpens iron, so does one religious tradition sharpen another. But why is such sharpening valuable? If religion and theology are themselves frivolous, then Comparative Theology is trivial as a bridge, subspecialty, or third discipline employing other religious traditions to refine one’s own; or utilizing disparate doctrines to filter gold from theological dross; or for evaluating, incorporating, synthesizing, and organizing insights from multiple religions while attempting to do “justice to the basic commitments of all.”[i]
As a former religion and humanities university instructor, presently a Harvard Th.M. student, I am regularly adjured by the inquisitive and incredulous as to why anyone, especially students grudgingly registered to meet a curriculum requirement, should study religion or theology at all.[ii]
First, I point out that it is impossible to do justice to any major religious tradition simply by taking a course, reading a book, declaring a major, enrolling in seminary, or earning a Ph.D. Any of these may supply fertilizer for lifelong rumination, but numerous volumes are published explicating thousands of theological themes barely mentioned, let alone surveyed, in most college, university, or seminary modules and seminars. Nevertheless, completing an undergraduate class or sifting through theological tomes yields a sampler taste of the greater feast within the study of religion, a banquet enhanced by a useful menu, talented academic chefs, and the desire to cultivate an astute sense of taste.
Second, religion is difficult to define. Wilfred Cantwell Smith doubts “religion” is a valid category for describing non-European beliefs, rituals and values, since it is a term originating in Europe and applied, Smith avows, haphazardly to non-European cultures and contexts.[iii] Feminist Rita Gross is more optimistic about quantifying religion but cautions, “Everyone has an intuitive sense of what is meant by the concept of religion, but these definitions are often limited by ethnocentrism. They often assume…all religions are…like religion in one’s own culture.”[iv]
Religion has been classified as the voice of deepest human experience, behaviors concerned with supernatural beings and forces, the longing for or encounter with the transcendent numinous, a feeling of absolute dependence, a taste for the infinite, and the chief fact regarding a person’s practical beliefs about, “vital relations to the mysterious universe, and…duty and destiny there.”[v] The Dalai Lama suggests all the major religions are “dedicated to the achievement of permanent human happiness.”[vi] Gandhi believed, “In reality, there are as many religions as there are individuals.”[vii] G.K. Chesterton, later echoed more famously by Paul Tillich, wrote that religion is one’s sense of “ultimate reality,” of whatever meaning someone finds in his or her own existence, or the existence of anything else.[viii]
A concurrent controversy is what counts as religion and what does not. Is Atheism the religious belief that there is no God?[ix] What about political philosophies like Communism, where humankind or the state is deemed ultimate? Are sports with fervent rituals, rules, loyalties, and “idols,” religions?[x] Comparative Theology clarifies such queries by investigating religion’s multivalent manifestations and inspecting the potentially theological nature of ideas and actions that less attentive onlookers or participants casually compartmentalize as secular or irrelevant to religion.
Third, because religion eludes easy definition, its boundaries are notoriously ambiguous and porous, interweaving issues from anthropology, archaeology, the arts, cosmology, ethics, history, literature, philosophy, politics, psychology, sociology, and even theoretical physics.[xi] According to Christopher Dawson, “The great religions are the foundations on which the great civilizations rest.”[xii] Thus, Comparative Theology equips us to appreciate richness in history and culture we might otherwise miss. From the poetry of John Donne to the majesty of the Taj Mahal, to the intricacies of Indian dance:
One cannot study themes of art or forms of architecture without some reference to the impetus provided by religion…one cannot learn about music and poetry without somehow noting the influence of religious inspiration. History, sociology, and anthropology cannot be taught or interpreted without consideration of religious customs and practices…psychology without reference to religion as a force that motivates, regulates, influences, and even directs…behavior…is almost impossible.[xiii]
Comparative Theology in this sense is worthwhile even for atheists, since it does not automatically entail endorsing the theologies it compares any more than researching racism makes one racist, or taking art history necessitates daubing paint to canvas ourselves. Will Deming elaborates:
For the religious, the study of religion can give one a deeper appreciation for his or her own religious tradition…It also enables a person to articulate his or her tradition better to others, either to edify one’s own group or for purposes of evangelism or interfaith dialogue. For both the religious and the nonreligious—the atheist, the agnostic, or the comfortably uninterested—an appreciation of religion gives one insight into dealing with religious people of all sorts.[xiv]
Gary Kessler recognizes religion as “a force that influences for good or for ill, the lives of practically everyone who is alive. So much of human history and culture remains a mystery if we cannot comprehend the role religion has played and continues to play in the development of human institutions, values, and behavior.”[xv] For example, “American culture…cannot be fully understood without knowing something about the role that Christianity played in shaping its political, judicial, and educational institutions, not to mention…individual freedom and human rights…religious ideas were used to promote the destruction of indigenous peoples and to end it, to promote slavery and to stop it.”[xvi]
Karen Farrington likewise extols, “In his darkest hour it has taken more than food and water to sustain benighted man. Religion has been his comforter, his prop, his reason for existing.”[xvii] Comparative Theology strives to ascertain why, in what way, and to what end.
Fourth, while it has been said one ought not to talk politics, sex, or religion in polite society, Comparative Theology concerns politics sex, and religion! Studying themes that matter intensely is enlightening and invigorating, yet it can evoke strong emotions by touching on topics intensely personal.
Unlike some religion professors, I am repulsed by university and self-appointed faith-terminators who “shoot to kill” students’ religious beliefs. Most students have few tools and limited time to winnow wheat from chaff flung by hostile, heavily armed authority figures. I hope religious and secular students alike find their preconceptions challenged by religious and theological inquiry (cf. James 1:2-5), but while spiritual depth is a worthy goal for Comparative Theology, spiritual death is not. In the words of Alex Shand and (purportedly) Cardinal John Henry Newman, universities and Comparative Theology within and beyond ought to be where, “mind clashes with mind, and sparks of brilliant intelligence are set flying, as from the sharp contact of flint striking upon steel.”[xviii] Or, to use two complimentary metaphors, Comparative Theology ought to serve as a womb for nurturing seeds of creativity and a marketplace for confronting, analyzing, and ultimately accepting or rejecting ideas.[xix]
Father Francis Clooney contends that when we practice Comparative Theology, “If we choose to remain in our original tradition, remaining is now a real choice made in light of real alternatives.”[xx] Even so, such variables must be balanced with vulnerability inherent to subjecting personal beliefs to scrutiny and mutually seeing ourselves as others see us.[xxi] As W.B. Yeats poeticized:
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;’
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.[xxii]
If the fear or awe or reverence of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10), then comparing notes and collaborating with past and present God-fearers from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9, 14:6) is a productive subsequent step whereby Comparative Theology gathers the spiritual “wealth of nations” (Isaiah 66:12). If all truth is God’s truth and has its source in the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:17), we must be free to explore it.[xxiii] St. Augustine said, “Every good and true Christian should understand that wherever he finds truth, it is his Lord’s.”[xxiv] Process theologian John Cobb concurs, “Hebrews were not (always) faithless to Yahweh when they adopted and adapted from Egyptians and Persians,” nor are Christians necessarily faithless if they adopt or adapt wisdom from science or “Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and primal peoples.”[xxv]
Lack of faith expresses itself in fear of being affected by the wisdom of other communities. If we trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have no reason to fear that truth from any source will undercut our faith. Indeed, we have every reason to believe that all truth, wisdom and reality cohere in him…faith in Jesus Christ encourages and even requires us to assimilate into our tradition what others have learned…It is incumbent upon us as Christians to transform ourselves by being open to this wisdom and goodness and learning all we can from it. It is also incumbent upon Christians to share the saving wisdom that we have derived from our own tradition. Listening to others and witnessing to them are not in conflict; in fact, as we are transformed by what we learn from others, our witnessing may become far more convincing to them. [xxvi]
Gerald R. McDermott, author of Can Evangelicals Learn from World Religions? and God’s Rivals: Why Has God Allowed Different Religions? demonstrates to Christian Evangelicals and others:
The religions are good for theology. God uses the religions to teach the church deeper insight into the meaning of Christ…We saw this even in the Bible…It may be that some of today’s religions portray aspects of the Divine mystery that the Bible does not equally emphasize: for example, the Qur’an’s sense of the divine majesty and transcendence…Hindu traditions…remind Christians of God’s immanence when deistic tendencies have obscured it. Theravadin Buddhists may be able to show…dimensions of the fallen ego that will shed greater light on what Paul meant by “the old man.” Philosophical Daoists may have insights into nonaction that can help Christians better understand “waiting on God.” Confucius’s portrayal of virtue may open new understandings of radical discipleship…I am not saying these…(are not taught) in the Bible…But many of us…see them less clearly than we could…God used Aristotle to shed light for Thomas Aquinas on certain aspects of Christ and life with him…Peter learned from Cornelius’s religious experience and heard God’s word through him.[xxvii]
Paul F. Knitter goes even farther: Without Buddha I could not be a Christian.[xxviii] Mega-church pastor Joel Hunter insinuates that Christians and Muslims are necessary complements for each other.[xxix] Not all Comparative Theologians will go so far, but a vigorous Comparative Theologian contemplates Jesus, Muhammad, and the Buddha’s teachings in order to be (or become) a better Hindu, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Parsi, Sikh, or Baha’i, and to illuminate Comparative Theology itself.
For example, in context, the Buddha’s teaching in the Samyuttaka (or Samyutta) Nikaya, a Pali text, indicates reticence in sharing unhelpful truths, but the metaphor the Buddha uses can be adapted to illustrate why examining “leaves” from assorted trees in the religious forest is essential to theology. When the Buddha was staying at Kosambi in a Sinsapa-forest, he took a few leaves in hand, “What do you think, my disciples: which is more, these few leaves I hold, or the other leaves in the wood and the trees above and around us? As the leaves of the forest are more numerous than those in my hand, so are the leaves of truth I have not communicated to you in proportion with those I have communicated.”[xxx]
In the Bible, “Israel” means “God wrestler,” or “wrestler with God and humanity” (Genesis 32:28). Comparative Theology correspondingly wrestles with a variety of religious convictions. Even if a Comparative Theologian does not rejoice or agree with every concept of the Divine, she acknowledges that error illumines truth by contrast, just as “geocentrists taught heliocentrists certain things” even though geocentrists were wrong in their overall interpretation of the data.[xxxi]
Even the Comparative Theologian who perceives particular religions as profoundly mistaken can aver with C.S. Lewis, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”[xxxii] But to answer bad philosophy, one must be alert to it and simultaneously vigilant to one’s own propensity to be blinded and hobbled by it. What at first blush may appear to be a strange ritual or dastardly doctrine could contain subtle perspicacity or Divine prompts eliciting holy yearning.[xxxiii] Gerald R. McDermott comments, “Religions may be inspired in part by other powers, but God has not abandoned whole cultures to perdition and untruth. God is still at work, using even distorted truth to teach truth. And his Spirit is still actively leading individuals within the religions to draw closer to himself.”[xxxiv] As the Apostle Paul proclaimed in Athens, “God let all nations go their own way, yet has not left himself without witness” (Acts 14:17).
Flourishing Comparative Theology thus demands unfettered, vibrant exchange of ideas. It must embrace dialogue and celebrate passionately the advice of the Rig Veda, “may noble thoughts (or auspicious powers) come to us from every side” (1.89.1) along with the aphorisms attributed to Confucius, “Let three walk together and there I will find instruction. For what is good in them I will follow, and what is not good I will try to modify or reform in myself” (The Analects 7.21) and Voltaire, “I (may) disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”[xxxv]
The task for Comparative Theology is not to sew etymological straitjackets to make theology more manageable, but to stretch prevailing categories and forge the Infinite frontier. Instead of perpetually marching in lockstep, Comparative Theology nourishes innovation, hopefully—though not inevitably for the better. Active dialogue with practitioners and dissenters, and harvesting the fruits of interchange is crucial to all study, including Comparative Theology.
Comparative Theology will also consider the musings of those who dismiss religion as nonsense. Sparring with atheists, agnostics, and anti-theists enlivens theological acuity. Cardinal Bonomi alleged, “The best way to beat the heretics is not to deserve their criticisms,”[xxxvi] but maybe the best way to engage “heretics” or “apostates” is to learn via reciprocal probing of merits and flaws.
Additional incentives for Comparative Theology are curiosity, enjoyment, awe, and the quest for beauty and truth. As Philip Novak indicates, “It is often upon an initial opening of the heart in wonder and delight that all further study depends.”[xxxvii] In performing Comparative Theology, we hone critical thinking which helps us be less easily fooled by charlatans and differentiate “sick religion” from faith that is healthy, good and true.[xxxviii] Comparative Theology is “faith seeking understanding,” which inquires into the truth, consistency, and explanatory power of the belief systems it interacts with.[xxxix] At the same time, it reveals resources for building empathy, tolerance, and love in our career, family and other relationships. “Instead of filling the gaps of knowledge with imaginary dragons or secretly looking down on the barbarians, let us get acquainted with our new neighbors in the global village and learn to love them.”[xl] Surah 49:13 (Al-Hujuraat) in the Qur’an congruently exults, “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another.”[xli]
Many Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others throughout history, have believed at some level that Christianity or Hinduism or Islam is not just a religion, tradition, culture, or one of many equally valid worldviews, but that the Torah, Qur’an, the teachings of Buddha, or the person of Jesus, convey or embody more fully than anything (or anyone) else the truest insights about Ultimate Reality, what it means to be fully human, and how to best live our lives relating to each other and the Divine. If any of these faiths or none are essentially or partly true, the implications are enormous. To simply dismiss the question with a yawn, “who knows what is right?” or “we all basically say the same thing,” is paternalistic and epistemologically lazy. Comparative Theology will not allow it.
Theodore Ludwig concludes, “Religion has to do with fundamental human issues and concerns. Who am I?…How can we find the life that is real and fulfilling?…Does life actually have any meaning—any real meaning—or do we just live and die in the small frame of a pointless, accidental cycle of the universe?”[xlii] Because these deliberations are not confined to one tradition, Comparative Theology provides the opportunity to ponder “the distilled wisdom of the human race.”[xliii]
But lest we forget, “Comparative Theology Today” is first, finally, and foremost about God. C.S. Lewis in his provocative essay, “Learning in War-Time” puts it this way, “the pursuit of knowledge and beauty…for their own sake…does not exclude their being for God’s sake…We can therefore pursue knowledge as such, and beauty as such, in the sure confidence that by so doing we are either advancing to the vision of God ourselves or indirectly helping others to do so.”[xliv] Francis Clooney maintains:
Theology, deep learning across religious borders…will always be a journey in faith. It will be from, for, and about God, whose grace keeps making room for all of us as we find our way faithfully in a world of religious diversity. That for me the work of comparative theology finally discloses a still deeper encounter with Jesus Christ only intensifies the commitment to learn from…religious diversity…In Christ there need not be any fear of what we might learn, there is only the Truth that sets us free.[xlv]
“As iron sharpens iron, so does one person (or religious tradition) sharpen another” (Proverbs 27:17) is valuable because it enhances our capacity to love and enjoy God forever by tuning the mind for the same purpose Bach crafted music, “for the glory of God and the refreshment of the human spirit.”[xlvi] So, whether we read or think or whatever we do, may it all be for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Martin Luther King, Jr. appends, “No matter how small one thinks his life’s work is in terms of the norms of the world… it has cosmic significance if he is serving humanity and doing the will of God.” [xlvii]
As Comparative Theologians today, let us as be like the Biblical David who served the purpose of God in his generation (Acts 13:36, NRSV) by comparing theology as Michelangelo carved, as Ella Fitzgerald sang, as the Keralan Kathakali dance, as Pablo Neruda spoke poetry, as Shusaka Endo penned prose. When like the Biblical David, we go to our ancestors (Acts 13:37), may we then kneel as faithful workers joyfully receiving the Divine invitation, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21, ESV).
Benjamin B. DeVan completed his A.A. at Young Harris College, a B.S. at Berry College, his M.A. in Counseling at Asbury Theological Seminary, and his M.Div. at Duke University before enrolling at Harvard (Th.M., 2010) for further study in world religions, with a thesis on Evangelical Christians and Islam.
[i] John B. Cobb Jr., “Being a Tansformationist in a Pluralistic world,” The Christian Century (August 10, 1994), online at: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_n23_v111/ai_15729926/, accessed February 5, 2010. Cf. Niels C. Nielson, et. al., Religions of the World (3rd ed., Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1993), p. 2.
[ii] Cf. Dorothy C. Bass and Miroslav Volf, (eds), Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), p. 245.
[iii] Wilfred Cantwell Smith, The Meaning and End of Religion (1962, 1963, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1991).
[iv] Rita M. Gross, Feminism and Religion (2nd ed., Boston, MI: Beacon Press, 1996), p. 8.
[v] Thomas Carlyle, On Heroes, Hero Worship and the Heroic in History (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 1897), pp. 8-9. Cf. Matthew Arnold, “Culture and Anarchy: Sweetness and Light” in Culture and Anarchy and other writings (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 61; Gary Ferraro, Cultural Anthropology: An Applied Perspective (3rd ed., Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 1998), p. 284; William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902, reprinted SC: Bibliobazaar, 2007), p. 39; Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy (1923, 2nd ed., London: Oxford University Press, 1950, 1958), p. 8; Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith (2nd ed., Berlin, 1830, reprint NY: T&T Clark, 2005), pp. 17, 132; Friedrich Schleiermacher, On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers (trans. John Oman, London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner and Company, 1893), p. 39; J Milton Yinger, “Pluralism, Religion, and Secularism,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion XI (1967), p. 18.
[vi] The Dalai Lama, Answers: Discussion with Western Buddhists (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2001), p. 12.
[vii] M.K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj and other writings (ed. Anthony J. Parell, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 52. Cf. Huston Smith, The World’s Religions (NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), p. 3.
[viii] G.K. Chesterton, “On Mr. Epstein” in Come to Think of It (NY: Dodd, Mead, and Company, 1931), p. 72. Cf. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology: Volume 1 (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1951), pp. 211-248.
[ix] E.g. Derek H. Davis, “Is atheism a religion? Recent judicial perspectives on the constitutional meaning of ‘religion’ (Kaufman v. McCaughtry),” Journal of Church and State 47:4, (9/22/05), pp. 707-723.
[x] Cf. Shirl James Hoffman, “Sports Fanatics,” Christianity Today 54:10 (February, 2010), online: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/february/3.20.html, accessed February 5, 2010.
[xi] E.g. John Polkinghorne, Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship (Yale University Press, 2007).
[xii] Christopher Dawson, The Dynamics of World History (IL: Sherwood Sugden, 1978), p. 128.
[xiii] S.A. Nigosian, World Religions: A Historical Approach (NY: Bedford/St. Martins, 2008), p. 2.
[xiv] Will Deming, Rethinking Religion: A Concise Introduction (NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 5. Cf. http://www.studyreligion.org/misconceptions/index.html, accessed February 5, 2010.
[xv] Gary E. Kessler, Studying Religion: An Introduction through Cases (2nd ed., NY: McGraw Hill, 2006), p. 12 (emphasis in original). Cf. Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Handbook of Today’s Religions (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983), p. 11; Martin Palmer, ed., World Religions: A History of Faith (NY: Barnes and Noble Books, 2002), p. 9.
[xvi] Kessler, p. 12.
[xvii] Karen Farrington, The History of Religion (NY: Barnes and Noble Books, 2001), p. 9.
[xviii] Alex Innes Shand, Half a Century or Changes in Men and Manners (2nd ed., Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1888), p. 62; cf. The Literary World: Choice Readings from the Best New Books, with Critical Reviews Vol. 36—New Series from July to December 1887 (London, James Clark and Co), p. 167. In the context of university study, “Mind clashes with mind” is attributed to Cardinal John Henry Newman in Lawrence S. Cunningham and John Kelsey, The Sacred Quest: An Invitation to the Study of Religion (3rd ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002), p. 6.
[xix] Cunningham and Kelsey, p. 6. Cf. Sunderrao Ramrao Dongerkery, Memories of Two Universities (Manaktalas, 1966, digitized by the University of Michigan, 2007), p. 183.
[xx] Francis Clooney, Comparative Theology: Deep Learning Across Religious Borders (UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), p. 156.
[xxi] Robert Burns, “To a Louse,” 8:2, The Life and Works of Robert Burns Volume I (London: W&R Chambers, 1856), p. 223.
[xxii] William Butler Yeats, “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven,” The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats (1983, 1989, NY: Scribner, 1996), p. 73.
[xxiii] Cf. William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: Gospel of John Volume 2 (1955, 1975, Revised and Updated, UK: Saint Andrews Press, 2001 and KY: Westminster John Knox), p. 228; Arthur F. Holmes, The Idea of a Christian College (1975, Revised ed., MI: Eerdmans, 1987), p. 63. Cf. Arthur Holmes, All Truth is God’s Truth (IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983).
[xxiv] Augustine, On Christian Doctrine (NY: Liberal Arts Press, 1958), p. 54.
[xxv] Cobb, online.
[xxvi] Cobb, online.
[xxvii] Gerald R. McDermott, God’s Rivals: Why Has God Allowed Different Religions? Insights from the Early Church (IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), pp. 162-167. Cf. Gerald R. McDermott, Can Evangelicals Learn from World Religions? Jesus, Revelation and Religious Traditions (IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000); Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004).
[xxviii] Paul F. Knitter, Without Buddha I Could not be a Christian (Oxford, UK: OneWorld, 2009).
[xxix] “A Common Word: Panel One, Religious Pluralism in the 21st Century” (October 8, 2009), http://explore.georgetown.edu/news/?ID=45512.
[xxx] Cf. George Grimm, The Doctrine of the Buddha: The Religion of Reason and Meditation (New Delhi: Shri Jainendra Press,1973, 1999) p. 45; The Wisdom of Faith with Huston Smith, a Bill Moyers Special (Public Affairs Television, 1996).
[xxxi] McDermott, God’s Rivals, p. 167. McDermott is apparently paraphrasing George A. Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1984).
[xxxii] C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (1949, 2001, NY: HarperCollins), p. 58.
[xxxiii] Cf. Don Richardson, Eternity in Their Hearts (3rd edition, Ventura, CA: Regal, 1981, 2005); C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Book 2, Chapter 1, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1952, 2001), p. 35.
[xxxiv] McDermott, God’s Rivals, p. 168.
[xxxv] Stephen G. Tallentyre (Evelyn Beatrice Hall), The Friends of Voltaire (London: Smith, Elder, 1906), pp. 198-199.
[xxxvi] Quoted in Stephen Tomkins, A Short History of Christianity (UK: Lion Hudson, 2005; MI: Eerdmans, 2006), p. 146.
[xxxvii] Philip Novak, The World’s Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World’s Religions (NY: HarperCollins, 1995), p. xii. Cf. Roger Eastman, ed., The Ways of Religion: An Introduction to the Major Traditions (3rd ed., NY: Oxford, 1999), p. xiii; Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion One Volume Edition: The Lectures of 1827 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1988), pp. 75-76; Nielson, p. 1.
[xxxviii] Wayne E. Oates, When Religion Gets Sick (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster John Knox Press, 1970), p. 25.
[xxxix] Daniel L. Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology (1991, MI: Eerdmans, 2nd ed. 2004), e.g. p. 2; Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (4th ed., NY: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 8.
[xl] Richard Wolff, The Popular Encyclopedia of World Religions: A User-Friendly Guide to Their Beliefs, History, and Impact on Our World Today (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2007), p. 7.
[xli] Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of the Glorious Qur’an (NY: A.A. Knopf, 1930), http://sacred-texts.com/isl/pick/.
[xlii] Theodore M. Ludwig, The Sacred Paths: Understanding the Religions of the World (2nd ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996), p. 2. Emphasis in original. [xliii] Huston Smith, The Wisdom of Faith with Huston Smith, a Bill Moyers Special (Public Affairs Television, 1996): “If we take the world’s enduring religions at their best, we discover the distilled wisdom of the human race.”
[xliv] Lewis, p. 56.
[xlv] Clooney, p. 165.
[xlvi] “Recreation” in Wilibald Gurlitt, Johann Sebastian Bach: The Master and His Work (MA: De Capo Press, 1986), p. 67. Cf. The Bhagavad Gita 10:10, 11:55, 18:65; The Bible: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21, Numbers 15:37-41; Matthew 22:37, Mark 12: 30-31, Luke 10:27; The Qur’an: Surah 2:177; “The Westminster Shorter Catechism” (1647), A:1; John Piper, Desiring God (OR: Multnomah, 1986, 1996, 2003).
[xlvii] Martin Luther King, Jr., The Measure of a Man (1959, Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2001), p. 42.