BA Books & Authors on the Web – August 21, 2015

Cover ArtAt The Englewood Review of Books, Ben Simpson reviewed Leisure and Spirituality by Paul Heintzman.

“While Heintzman’s work focuses on leisure, he presents his research against the backdrop of work as it is understood within the current milieu, creating a relief. In this respect, Heintzman is like the sages of Issachar (1 Chron. 12:32) a person who knows and understands the times, offering the church knowledge that can equip us to live faithfully as disciples of Jesus.”

James, at Thoughts, Prayers, & Songs, reviewed Harold Netland’s Christianity and Religious Diversity.

At RBL, Judith Lieu reviewed The Original Bishops by Alistair Stewart.

“In this closely argued and exegetically analytical study, Alistair C. Stewart (who, publishing as Stewart-Sykes, has an impressive record as a patristic scholar) presents a vigorous rebuttal of what he describes as the “consensus” position concerning the origin of the threefold order of episkopoi (bishops), presbyters (elders), and deacons.”

George Hunsinger’s Reading Barth with Charity was reviewed at Diglotting.

Also at Diglotting, a review of 2 Corinthians by George Guthrie.

Tony Reinke shared an excerpt from The Pastor as Public Theologian, by Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – June 26, 2015

Cover ArtGeorge Guthrie, author of 2 Corinthians in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, was interviewed at Books at a Glance. (Part 1, and part 2).

“New commentaries on 2 Corinthians do not hit the press every day, and it is noteworthy when one of 736 pages arrives from a respected New Testament scholar such as George Guthrie of Union University. We were eager to see Dr. Guthrie’s treatment of this rather neglected book, the latest addition to Baker’s outstanding Exegetical Commentary series, and today he talks to us about his new work.”

At RBL, Iain Provan reviewed Reading the Historical Books by Patricia Dutcher-Walls.

Also at RBL, Warren Carter’s Seven Events That Shaped the New Testament World was reviewed by Richard Johnson.

“Carter identifies his objective as orienting the reader to “some important aspects” of the world of Jesus and his early disciples, thereby helping Carter’s readers to read the New Testament with greater understanding (xvii). That dual objective is worth accomplishing, and Carter has succeeded in that effort. He has provided a popular resource that incorporates serious historical reflection with explicit and judicious treatment of primary sources.”

Christianity and Religious Diversity, by Harold Netland, was reviewed by Conrade Yap at Panorama of a Books Saint.


What Does It Mean for a Religion to Be “True”? – an Excerpt from Christianity and Religious Diversity

The following is an excerpt from Christianity & Religious Diversity, by Harold Netland.


Truth or falsity applies to particular religious claims or teachings. But what does it mean for a religion to be true?

Throughout this book we have emphasized the multidimensional nature of religion, as religions include much more than simply religious teachings or beliefs. Religions are complex systems, including not only teachings or doctrines but also institutions, social patterns of behavior, ethical norms, rituals, physical objects, stories or narratives, experiences, saints or religious exemplars, and so on.

Cover ArtMoreover, the major world religions are vast systems that include within them many diverse traditions or schools, not all of which are even mutually compatible. Consider, for example, the enormous variety of traditions that fall under the general category of Hinduism or Christianity. Religions also change in important respects over time, so that in some cases it is difficult to see how a later tradition is at all in continuity with earlier ones. All of this makes it difficult or even misleading to speak of the truth or falsity of a particular religion.

Theologian and philosopher Keith Ward suggests that given the diverse and multidimensional nature of religions, we should avoid speaking about whether a religious tradition as a whole is true and focus instead on the truth or falsity of particular truth claims advanced by a religion. Use of the term “religious tradition,” with its close cultural and social affiliations, is especially problematic since it does not seem like the kind of thing that can be true or false.

Viewed as social phenomena, religious traditions are forms of life which are culturally and ethnically differentiated. Since they contain many possibilities of diverse interpretation, and many dimensions of significance, it becomes apparent that a person will usually belong to such a tradition by birth, and can find within it many resources of meaning and moral teaching. As it seems absurd to say that one culture is “true” and all others “false,” so the use of the expression “religious tradition” subtly leads one to say that one cannot compare such traditions for truth; and that therefore one is not to be preferred to the others, except as an expression of cultural imperialism.

Ward observes that we can, however, inquire about the truth of particular religious teachings or claims. Thus he urges that when we consider questions of truth in religion, we “refrain from speaking of religio-cultural traditions, with all the problems of boundary-definition that brings with it, and to insist on focusing on particular truth-claims, and on particular interpretations of them, which can be properly assessed for truth and falsity.”

Instead of asking about the truth of Hinduism or Islam, then, we should consider the truth of religious assertions such as “This life is one of a long series of past and future lives” or “Allah revealed the contents of the Qur’an to Muhammad.”

Ward is onto something significant here. Speaking of the truth of a religious tradition is problematic since the term “religious tradition” draws upon the multidimensional nature of religions and their close relationship with broader social and cultural phenomena. It is important to keep the sociocultural dimensions in mind, since religions involve more than just systems of doctrines. But to the extent that we think of religions in these multidimensional terms, it becomes difficult to speak of truth in religion since truth does not apply to social institutions or cultural patterns of behavior as such. It does not make sense to speak of the truth or falsity of a particular culture or ritual, whereas we can and do speak of the truth or falsity of religious claims.

©2015 by Harold A. Netland. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


For more information on Christianity and Religious Diversity, click here.

New Release: Christianity and Religious Diversity

Cover ArtIn Christianity & Religious Diversity, Harold Netland, an expert in philosophical aspects of religion and pluralism, offers a fresh analysis of religion in today’s world.

He explores how world religions have changed in an era of globalization, and responds to issues concerning the plausibility of Christian commitments to Jesus Christ and the unique truth of the Christian gospel in light of religious diversity and disagreement.

Combining theological resources with insights from history, religious studies, and philosophy, Christianity & Religious Diversity will be useful for professors and students in intercultural studies, world religions, and mission courses. Scholars, missionaries, and pastors will also benefit from this book.


“Netland is attentive like few others to the challenges confronting Christian faith in a global context.” – Amos Yong, Fuller Theological Seminary

“A model of exacting research, clear and cogent writing, and unusual generosity of spirit. It is an extraordinary achievement.” – R. Douglas Geivett, Biola University

“Another outstanding book by preeminent evangelical philosopher of religion Harold Netland….This is essential reading.” – Terry C. Muck, Louisville Institute

“There is no better writer today than Harold Netland on how to think about Jesus in a global, postcolonial world, especially when it comes to epistemology.” – Gerald R. McDermott, Roanoke College

“I recommend the book highly to all who are interested in the problems of religious pluralism and Christian mission.” – Stephen T. Davis, Claremont McKenna College

“Clear but not simplistic, balanced but not anemic, gentle but not compromising, this volume demonstrates that an informed faith is well able to ground mission in today’s world.” – Stephen Williams, Union Theological College

“A wise and faithful guide for followers of Jesus seeking to understand our religiously diverse world.” – Paul Rhodes Eddy, Bethel University


Harold A. Netland (PhD, Claremont Graduate University) is professor of philosophy of religion and intercultural studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he also directs the PhD in intercultural studies program. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith and Mission, Dissonant Voices: Religious Pluralism and the Question of Truth, A Trinitarian Theology of Religions, and Buddhism: A Christian Exploration and Appraisal. He is also the coeditor of Globalizing Theology and Handbook of Religion.

For more information on Christianity and Religious Diversity, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – May 15, 2015

Cover ArtScott Swain was interviewed at Logos Reformed about his recent book with Michael Allen, Reformed Catholicity.

Protestants tend to be leery of church confessions, especially when it comes to biblical interpretation, and to believe that the individual’s private judgment about the interpretation of the biblical text is the final court of appeal for theology.

We believe the modern approach to sola scriptura rests upon an unbiblical anthropology and an unbiblical ecclesiology and thus seek to relocate sola Scriptura within the context of a more biblical understanding of humanity and the church.

Also, Michael at Philomythois reflected on the distinction between Sola Scriptura and Solo Scriptura in light of Reformed Catholicity.

Austin Reed, at Reformed Forum, reviewed George Hunsinger’s Reading Barth with Charity.

Pheme Perkins’ First Corinthians volume in the Paideia series was reviewed by H. H. Drake Williams III for RBL.

Publishers Weekly took note of James Thompson’s The Church According to Paul receiving the 2015 Book of the Year Award from the Academy of Parish Clergy, as well as the forthcoming release of The Gospel According to Heretics by David Wilhite.

At ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, Paul D. Adams discussed The Lure of Buddhism and Harold Netland‘s Christianity and Religious Diversity.

J. Richard Middleton, author of A New Heaven and a New Earth, took part in a discussion on Creation, Violence, and the God of the Old Testament, hosted by the Westminster Theological Centre.