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Theology and Religious Pluralism Paperback – 15 May 1986

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"Why I am an Inclusivist" 19 Feb. 2011
By David Marshall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a simple and straightforward comparison of different ways for Christians to understand world religions. D'Costa begins by introducing the subject, classifying 20th Century models into three camps: pluralist, exclusivist, and inclusivist. Taking John Hick, Hendrik Kraemer, and Karl Rahner as representatives of the three schools, D'Costa discusses the ups and downs of each model in relation to the thinking of these three men, sometimes bringing in other thinkers. He saves Rahner for last, of course, because he thinks inclusivism is the best solution, preserving the best of both worlds.

The book is concise. It's fairly easy to read, as these things go, but neither detailed nor poetic. D'Costa tries his best to be fair to each (mislabeling Lesslie Newbigin as an exclusivist, though), finds something of value in each, and the book would serve as a good introduction to the issue.

The religions D'Costa talks about most, on the few occasions when he moves beyond theology to details, are usually Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. He doesn't say much about Buddhism, and little or nothing about Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, or tribal religions. He mostly takes religions mainly as units, which in some cases is I think problematic. I also think he misunderstands the fulfillment thinking of J. N. Farquhar, which is actually quite alive to the dark side of Indian society. Finally, the issue he focuses on is salvation. This seems a dubious choice to me: as Newbigin points out, it really isn't the job of theologians to decide who goes to heaven.

I don't know who's trying to sell copies of this book for $70 or $200, but hope no one will fall for the scam. Look around: you can probably find a copy in a local university library, as I did.
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