Magazine article International Bulletin of Missionary Research
An Introduction to the Theology of Religions: Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives
An Introduction to the Theology of Religions: Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives. By Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003. Pp. 372. Paperback $29.
As the title suggests, the author of this book first gives a brief overview of the biblical testimony regarding the meaning and value of other religions, then helpfully highlights some examples of various opinions on the theology of religions in church history. But the heart of the book offers "a detailed survey of major confessional movements and theologians' opinions with regard to the current state of the theology of religions" (p. 27). His treatment of twenty-one "current" theologians ranges from Earth and Kraemer to Rahner and Dupuis, Newbigin and Pinnock, Hick, Samartha, and Knitter.
The author, a Finnish theologian at Fuller Seminary, says he is not advocating any particular view of theology of religions; rather, "this is meant to be a 'neutral' introduction to the topic" (p. 27) for use as a seminary textbook. The bibliography and indexes of persons and subjects enhance its usefulness.
The most common typology in treatments of theology of religions uses exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism. The author, however, prefers a typology similar to that proposed by Jacques Dupuis in his Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism (1997): ecdesiocerarism, Christocentrism, theocentrism, and reality-centrism. …