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Between Allah & Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims

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What would happen if Christians and a Muslim at a university talked and disagreed, but really tried to understand each other? What would they learn? That is the intriguing question Peter Kreeft seeks to answer in these imaginative conversations at Boston College. An articulate and engaging Muslim student named 'Isa challenges the Christian students and professors he meets What would happen if Christians and a Muslim at a university talked and disagreed, but really tried to understand each other? What would they learn? That is the intriguing question Peter Kreeft seeks to answer in these imaginative conversations at Boston College. An articulate and engaging Muslim student named 'Isa challenges the Christian students and professors he meets on issues ranging from prayer and worship to evolution and abortion, from war and politics to the nature of spiritual struggle and spiritual submission. While Kreeft believes Christians should not learn extremism or unitarian theology from Muslims, he does believe that if we really listened we could learn much about devoted religious practice and ethics. Here is a book to open your understanding of one of the key forces shaping our world today. It's a book that just could make you a better Christian.


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What would happen if Christians and a Muslim at a university talked and disagreed, but really tried to understand each other? What would they learn? That is the intriguing question Peter Kreeft seeks to answer in these imaginative conversations at Boston College. An articulate and engaging Muslim student named 'Isa challenges the Christian students and professors he meets What would happen if Christians and a Muslim at a university talked and disagreed, but really tried to understand each other? What would they learn? That is the intriguing question Peter Kreeft seeks to answer in these imaginative conversations at Boston College. An articulate and engaging Muslim student named 'Isa challenges the Christian students and professors he meets on issues ranging from prayer and worship to evolution and abortion, from war and politics to the nature of spiritual struggle and spiritual submission. While Kreeft believes Christians should not learn extremism or unitarian theology from Muslims, he does believe that if we really listened we could learn much about devoted religious practice and ethics. Here is a book to open your understanding of one of the key forces shaping our world today. It's a book that just could make you a better Christian.

30 review for Between Allah & Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims

  1. 4 out of 5

    Don Bryant

    Peter Kreeft is an all-time fav. He is a philosopher professor at Boston College, now near retirement or retired. I have read most all of his books, and there are scads of them, 50+. He grew up Evangelical but converted to Roman Catholicism in college. He continues to write in a way that hit most of the themes Evangelicals are comfortable with, and in fact writes for Inter Varsity Press, who never mention that he is Roman Catholic. That would be too much for a Protestant printing press. His usua Peter Kreeft is an all-time fav. He is a philosopher professor at Boston College, now near retirement or retired. I have read most all of his books, and there are scads of them, 50+. He grew up Evangelical but converted to Roman Catholicism in college. He continues to write in a way that hit most of the themes Evangelicals are comfortable with, and in fact writes for Inter Varsity Press, who never mention that he is Roman Catholic. That would be too much for a Protestant printing press. His usual format is the Socratic dialogue where characters interact on an intellectual and personal level with the topics Kreeft introduces. This allows not just for abstract concepts, such as justice, beauty, goodness, morality, life after death, etc., but for the many different levels with which we approach these topics. We are not mere minds thinking – we feel, we get uncomfortable, we are biased and get angry, we want certain things to be true even if they are not and want certain other things to be untrue even if they are. The dialogical format allows sarcasm, puns, anger, petulance, bullying, smugness, etc., all which are a part of any hot topic as we discuss it in real life. In “Between” the protagonist is `Isa Ben Adam, an idealized Muslim, sincere, observant and smart. The four characters `Isa dialogues with are: (1) Libby Rawls, a sarcastic, sassy Black feminist "liberal"; (2) Evan Jellema, a very straight Dutch Calvinist who is the opposite of Libby in nearly every imaginable way; (3) Father Heerema, `Isa's kindly, wise, old-fashioned Jesuit philosophy professor at Boston College; and (4) "Mother," a large, hospitable, bread-baking lady who wears bright dresses, has a parrot on her shoulder and holds continents of common sense in her brain. "Mother" runs a sprawling old Victorian boarding house shaped like a ship on the beachfront in Nahant, Massachusetts, in which she, Isa, Libby, Evan and five other people live. `Isa also dialogues on campus with Father Fesser, another professor at Boston College, who has the reputation of being a freethinker rather than a traditional Catholic. The topics are various to allow Isa to respond to them as a Muslim: comparative religions, Islam’s relationship with the West, the relationship of Jesus and Muhammad, who goes to heaven, prayer, the role of women, sex, politics, war, jihad, abortion. Isa comes out looking the hero, but this is not because Kreeft himself believes what Isa believes. It is just simply an attempt to demonstrate that Islam can make a case for itself even as it deals with its shortfalls and intellectual challenges. I think the book is most interesting on the topic of sex, sexual restraint and the West’s worship of sexual liberty. Isa says, “I think you don't submit to God and his commandments because it interferes with your sex life. I think you're a Christian only from the waist up: in your heart, maybe, but not in your sex organs. And not from the neck up either, not in your mind. You don't believe in your own commandments. You invent moral ambiguities so that you can give excuses for your behavior. So you may have a godly heart but you don't have godly brains or sex organs." We in the West looked at Islam as necessarily enslaving and believe that people who are enlightened will naturally choose western liberal democracy and secularism given the opportunity. The book is a way to say, “think again.” There is a sought for consistency in Islam that blends state, mosque, society and family in one whole, Confucian-like, which gives a place for everyone to be, in contrast to the rootlessness of capitalism, market forces, extreme individualism that leaves us free to be what we want to be at the price of being alone. Peter Kreeft is a Roman Catholic in soteriology, so that will come through. RC’s believe that sincere believers of other religions can be and are saved. At the same time they assert that it is Jesus who saves them. He is the light that lights every life, per John 1:9. So the RC church is both exclusive – Jesus alone is the Savior of the world – and inclusive – sincere and devoted seekers of other religions, wrong though they are in not teaching explicit faith in Jesus, are being saved by Jesus even if they do not know it. This will hit Evangelicals as wrong-headed. In Kreeft’s configuration an observant Muslim is a spiritual brother. I am not so sanguine as is Kreeft, though I tend to move in his direction, or at least make allowance for its possibilities. On this issue see Peter Kreeft’s debate with Robert Spencer, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMtqCa... Spencer is a severe critic of all things Muslim and the author of the blog www.jihadwatch.org/ I encourage all readers to read all things Kreeft. His deep love for CS Lewis weaves Lewis’ themes and style into all of his own writings. My favorite Kreeft book is “Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    As our world continues to shrink bringing more and more religious diversity into our communities, books like this are especially important to show us how we might dialogue with those who are of a different faith. While most of the conversations in Kreeft's book are fictional, they provide a fairly good example of Krister Stendahl's three ground rules for inter-religious dialogue. 1. If you want to understand another religion, ask its adherents, not its enemies. 2. Don't compare your best to their As our world continues to shrink bringing more and more religious diversity into our communities, books like this are especially important to show us how we might dialogue with those who are of a different faith. While most of the conversations in Kreeft's book are fictional, they provide a fairly good example of Krister Stendahl's three ground rules for inter-religious dialogue. 1. If you want to understand another religion, ask its adherents, not its enemies. 2. Don't compare your best to their worst. 3. Leave room for "holy envy." (By this Stendahl meant that you should be willing to recognize elements in the other religious tradition or faith that you admire and wish could, in some way, be reflected in your own religious tradition or faith.) Overall, it is a very easy book to read. The fact that it is set into the context of a series of fictional conversations brings some texture to the issues being discussed. And in the end I think you will be surprised by what we may be able to learn from those whose theology is markedly different from ours.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julia Sullivan

    Thought-provoking and well written.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Bryant

    I am currently taking the World Religions class with Professor Kreeft and my only concern with the book is the focus more on argumentative dialogue rather than making solid, uniform connections. Each chapter has a struggle and tries to tie off loose ends towards the end of each chapter's short story, however one needs to have an open mind in order to "listen" to the dialogue rather than take sides while reading the arguments. I would urge other readers to enjoy this book for it has several enlig I am currently taking the World Religions class with Professor Kreeft and my only concern with the book is the focus more on argumentative dialogue rather than making solid, uniform connections. Each chapter has a struggle and tries to tie off loose ends towards the end of each chapter's short story, however one needs to have an open mind in order to "listen" to the dialogue rather than take sides while reading the arguments. I would urge other readers to enjoy this book for it has several enlightening thoughts and closures on some interesting subjects that I'm sure have been encountered oneself in some sort or fashion. The book is good at thinking outside the box and allowing the reader to understand a bit more thoroughly how Christianity and Islam have subtle similarities, as well as subtle differences, while others vastly differ. It helps to identity the black, white, and grey areas we often encounter. It is a short read, I read in several hours dispersed over a two day period... And I read a bit slower than most to try to understand be text. You can use this standard to base your average reading time off of. Best -T

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    Interesting read. I was hoping to have my mind opened more to navigate the waters of Christianity vis-à-vis Islam. I think this book was a helpful first step to shed light on the valuable merits of Muslims from which Christians can learn. I think it also helped me be more compassionate by stating things that should have been obvious, but weren't because of my own lack of critical thinking and unconscious double-standardizing. Case in point: "Please ask yourself whether you would like others to j Interesting read. I was hoping to have my mind opened more to navigate the waters of Christianity vis-à-vis Islam. I think this book was a helpful first step to shed light on the valuable merits of Muslims from which Christians can learn. I think it also helped me be more compassionate by stating things that should have been obvious, but weren't because of my own lack of critical thinking and unconscious double-standardizing. Case in point: "Please ask yourself whether you would like others to judge Christianity based on the picture of it now being presented in the modern Western media. Then please remember the Golden Rule, and apply this to the picture of Islam presented by the same source."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    There's a lot to like here - a rational discussion of the differences & similarities between Christianity & Islam that is well-written & thoughtful. OTOH, the "characters" are stereotypes, which makes it difficult to get past the feeling that they're just mouthing their lines. I also struggle with the view put forth by Kreeft's "hero" - the college priest - regarding salvation. (It's a bit too Rob Bell for my tastes - which is weird, because I haven't caught that vibe in Kreeft's other writings.) There's a lot to like here - a rational discussion of the differences & similarities between Christianity & Islam that is well-written & thoughtful. OTOH, the "characters" are stereotypes, which makes it difficult to get past the feeling that they're just mouthing their lines. I also struggle with the view put forth by Kreeft's "hero" - the college priest - regarding salvation. (It's a bit too Rob Bell for my tastes - which is weird, because I haven't caught that vibe in Kreeft's other writings.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tim Jim Harris

    I was excited that someone had undertaken a fictional book that would debate the controversy between Islam and Christianity. Unfortunately the conversations seem very contrived. Their views are laid out poorly. It's not worth reading. If anyone knows of a book that deals with this issue in an intelligent manner please recommend it to me. Otherwise, I suppose I'll wait until Ravi Zacharias' book comes out (posthumanously).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    Kreeft never deals in half-truths. He wants to overwhelm the strongest fortresses of the enemy, and provide comfort to those who have fallen into weakness. I was introduced to his radiance at an early age and the shards of light I remembered helped carry me through many encounters. If any questions about the conflict between Islam and Christianity remain after reading this book, then I suggest you keep asking them.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Saz Jibson Ryan

    The fiction-style approach to the book's topics effectively draws me in. The differences between Morality and Theology, Sexual Morality and Moral Ambiguity, Abortion and Compassion--Kreeft deals with items of varying opinion between Christians and Muslims in an objective light. He does this by creating conversations between a handful of characters like 'Isa, Libby, Evan, and Father Hareema.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    A different approach to learning about Islam from a Christian perspective that adds to other things I have read on the topic. I have the greatest respect for Peter Kreeft.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Very fair analysis of the tensions between Muslims and Christians from a noted Catholic theologian.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alana

    I have mixed feelings on this one. I really liked the introduction, and the idea of a Muslim, a couple of Catholics, an evangelical Christian, a Jew, and very liberal Christian all being able to have discussions together and learn from one another. For the most part, Kreeft kept to the spirit of that, and showed the possibility of being able to have such discussions civilly, which God knows we need more of in this world. The first few chapters were excellent, but I felt the tone of the book by t I have mixed feelings on this one. I really liked the introduction, and the idea of a Muslim, a couple of Catholics, an evangelical Christian, a Jew, and very liberal Christian all being able to have discussions together and learn from one another. For the most part, Kreeft kept to the spirit of that, and showed the possibility of being able to have such discussions civilly, which God knows we need more of in this world. The first few chapters were excellent, but I felt the tone of the book by the end was rather lackluster. It was ok, just didn't really draw me in. Maybe this is being too P.C., but I found it irritating that the only female character was obnoxious and ready to jump to offended conclusions at the drop of a hat. And no, it's not just that she is a very left-leaning character. That I could handle and even identify with to a degree. It's more that she meets all the worst stereotypes that we tend to pin on women, especially black women, as her character is. She's not painted at all as a reasonable person, willing to have a discussion and think through things, but rather the escalator at every imaginable point, always quick to take offense. While there may be SOME people that are like that (just check out Facebook), I truly don't know anyone personally, at any point along the political spectrum, who's just itching for a fight at every possible juncture. Not in person at every discussion, at least. Most people tend to be a little more restrained in actual small group conversations. If I'm willing to overlook that (which honestly, I'm not), then there's a lot of really great ideas to ponder. I think there is a bit of theological license that Kreeft takes, but he is trying to cross some bridges and get outside of the standard evangelical American Christian box, so I can give some grace to that. An interesting read, one that could be at least mind-broadening.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I was surprised to find that this book included characters and so much dialog, but it worked so well to show the different perspective, belief systems and reasoning that goes on in our brains and hearts. The author, those describes himself as Catholic, is not afraid to risk everything to discuss challenging, uncomfortable differences in the Christian and Muslim faiths. I appreciated that he believe sincere Muslims can be holy and saved. I am now decidedly less ignorant about the differences and I was surprised to find that this book included characters and so much dialog, but it worked so well to show the different perspective, belief systems and reasoning that goes on in our brains and hearts. The author, those describes himself as Catholic, is not afraid to risk everything to discuss challenging, uncomfortable differences in the Christian and Muslim faiths. I appreciated that he believe sincere Muslims can be holy and saved. I am now decidedly less ignorant about the differences and similarities in our faiths!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carl Palmateer

    An excellent book based on a variety of conversations between 'Isa an observant Muslim and several composite characters around Boston College. The conversations allow one to gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims, especially the ones that don't the news. Both are handled fairly without compromising on essential truths of the Christian faith. You will learn much from this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    The idea of this book is great but its execution lacking. The dialogue was painful to read and I found myself skimming and skipping whole paragraphs and pages.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Not a big fan of the writing style and I don't feel that there was all that much to the content.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Edwin Siahaan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Beckett

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jared

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Collins

  21. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  22. 5 out of 5

    Veeler.Play

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vickie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cassius Rovenstine

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

  26. 4 out of 5

    Winston Jen

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jim Baesler

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gmn

  29. 5 out of 5

    Allison

  30. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Dyan

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