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The Bible & Other Faiths: What Does the Lord Require of Us?

Author: Ida Glaser
Published By: Inter-Varsity Press (Leicester)
Pages: 253
Price: 7.99
ISBN: 1 84474 080 3

Reviewed by Simon Coupland.

This book is part of a series aiming to serve a global, not just Western, readership.  Although Ida Glaser is a Westerner, based in Edinburgh, she has worked in cross-cultural settings in several other parts of the world, and consistently brings in a multicultural and multi-faith perspective. 

The presuppositions of the book are profoundly, sometimes even naively, evangelical. For instance, she describes the pluralist position, commenting, “Some even believe that all people will be saved, whether they follow a faith or not” (pluralists consistently get a bad press). Elsewhere she reveals her underlying premise: “How can we help [Muslims] to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

Even so, the heart of the book is much less simplistic and dogmatic than this might suggest. She writes as a Jewish Christian reaching out to Muslims, and states bluntly, “Any theology that leads either to hatred of Jews or to hatred of Muslims must either be wrong in itself or have been wrongly applied” (italics hers). She seeks to undermine Christian stereotypes about other religions, saying that “we can see good things and bad things, truth and falsehood, in them all.”

The opening section, setting out the big picture, is the book’s weakest part. At times it is patronising, at others it makes sweeping generalisations contradicted later in the book (for example, that Old Testament nations were pluralist, even though Assyria and Egypt are later said to have conquered or excluded other gods). The more detailed discussion of Old and New Testament texts relating to other faiths, which forms the bulk of the book, is both more thoughtful and more thought-provoking.

And the book’s bottom line? That Christians are called to respect for and humility towards other faiths, even if they are also called to preach Christ to all.

Simon Coupland

Vicar of St Paul’s, Kingston Hill and author of Stripping Preaching to its Bare Essentials

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You are reading Issue 42 of Ministry Today, published in March 2008.

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