Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Engaging Islam from a Christian Perspective

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Engaging Islam from a Christian Perspective

Article excerpt

Engaging Islam from a Christian Perspective. By Bonnie Evans-Hill and Michael Rusk. Studies in Episcopal and Anglican Theology. New York: Peter Lang, 2015. xiii + 285 pp. $92.95 (cloth).

This fifth volume in the Studies in Episcopal and Anglican Theology series, edited by Charles K. Robertson, is a worthy addition to this very valuable project. Engaging Islam from a Christian Perspective brings together two priests of the Church of England. Michael Rusk is Team Rector of St. Peters Church in Oadby, a "multi-faith" parish in the Diocese of Leicester that is located in what has become an overwhelmingly Muslim neighborhood. Bonnie Evans-Hill is a convert to Shia Islam who has studied in the holy city of Qom, Iran. After moving to England, she embraced Christianity and is now the Diocesan Inter-Faith Adviser in the Diocese of St. Albans.

Evans-Hill rehearses the history of clashes between some Muslims and the West, beginning with the takeover of the American Embassy in Teheran in 1979. But it was the reaction to the 1988 publication of Salman Rushdies The Satanic Verses that signaled a new escalation. British Muslims, furious with what they perceived as Rushdie's traitorous attack on his own religion, burned copies and demonstrated. Then Ayatollah Khomeini hijacked what was essentially a British movement, issuing a fatwa calling for Rushdies death, and the stereotype of closed-minded fanatics bent on imposing their benighted views on society was confirmed. Soon some secularists were extending it to all believers. Islamist groups arose to defend a more conservative version of Islam than was traditionally present in Britain. The question has become quite sharp in Britain and beyond: what are the limits of individual freedom of expression and religion over against the rights of society?

Rusk reviews the growing awareness of Islam and the need for faithful dialogue. He begins with the World Council of Churches' 1986 report Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies, then moves to the Lambeth Conference 1988. It called for the creation of the first Anglican Communion Network, the Network for Interfaith Concerns, and issued two important reports. He quotes from Jews, Christians, and Muslims: The Way of Dialogue: "Christianity will only get a hearing by informed Muslims when it is clear that the Christian who is speaking understands Islam and yet remains a Christian by choice, not, as it were, by default" (p. …

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