Preparation and Fulfilment: A History and Study of Fulfilment Theology in Modern British Thought in the Indian Context

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Preparation and Fulfilment: A History and Study of Fulfilment Theology in Modern British Thought in the Indian Context. By Paul Hedges. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. Pp. xi, 426. $63.95.

Paul M. Hedges, currently teaching in China, studied the pivotal period from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century, when non-Western religions first became widely known in the Western world. He has looked at the responses of many people to this new knowledge, including English theologians, scholars of the newly established departments of religious studies at British universities, and missionaries in India. The concept of fulfillment was widely proposed as the key to understanding how the Christian message relates to non-Western religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism. As "lower" religions are fulfilled by "higher" religions, so Christianity as the "highest" religion fulfills the religious expectations in the hearts of all human beings (p. 28).

After introductory materials, the author deals with the birth and growth of fulfillment theology. He discusses a variety of persons and conferences from Frederick D. Maurice to the World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh (1910) and John N. Farquhar, culminating in the analysis of Farquhar's Crown off Hinduism (1913),which proclaimed, "The religion of Christ is the spiritual crown of the Rigveda" (p. 300).

In the final chapter, the criticisms of fulfillment theology by Alfred G. Hogg and Hendrik Kraemer are discussed, and conclusions are drawn. Questioning whether classical fulfillment theology is still a viable paradigm, Hedges opts for a notion of fulfillment that is far from that of Farquhar, his predecessors, or his immediate successors, pointing instead to today's globalization, which requires dialogue and adaptation. …