Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
SBJT 14:2 (Summer 2010) p. 86
Between Allah and Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims. By Peter Kreeft. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2010, 184 pp., $16.00 paper.
What would Socrates look like if he reincarnated himself as a Muslim and lived in the West in 2010? Though no one could know for sure, he would have to look something like ‘Isa, the primary character in Peter Kreeft’s, Between Allah and Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims. Writing in the Platonic dialogical style for which he has become famous, Kreeft presents a series of discussions between ‘Isa, an articulate, orthodox-though-slightly-Westernized Muslim; Evan, a conservative, evangelical Christian; Libby, a left-leaning Christian; and a handful of articulate professors and priests on the campus of a university in the northeast. Throughout the book we follow ‘Isa as he queries, respectfully but ruthlessly, Christians and Westerners on topics pertaining to life, morality, and religion.
Kreeft admits he stacks the deck in ‘Isa’s favor. ‘Isa ben Adam (whose name means “Jesus, the Son of Adam” in Arabic) has a keen mind and sharp wit, and he skillfully exposes the inconsistencies of both his conservative and liberal friends. He disabuses them of their misconceptions of Islam, showing them how Islam embodies many of the very things orthodox Christianity holds most dear. Along the way, ‘Isa learns a few things himself about the nature of true Christianity and is confronted with his own misconceptions about the gospel.
For those looking for a robust apologetic response to Islam, this book will disappoint. But that is not why Kreeft wrote the book. As the subtitle indicates, the burden of this book is to help Christians see what they can learn from Muslims. This is not to say that Kreeft does not engage in the occasional polemic against Islam. There are some very pointed defenses of the Trinity, the logic of the cross, the advantages of grace over the law, and Gospel paradoxes such as God’s power shown in weakness. These are fresh and penetrating, even for those well versed in Christian apologetics. Kreeft’s primary purpose, however, is to help Christians understand Muslims. His goal in this is threefold: (1) he wants to show Christians that there is much more commonality between Muslims and Christians than most Christians realize (much more commonality, in his view, than there is difference!); (2) he wants Christians properly to understand Muslims so that when they present the gospel to Muslims they can show them that the gospel upholds many of the things most cherished by Islam; and (3) he wants Christians to learn from and be sharpened in their own faith by observing the practices of another faith community.
In the introductory chapter, Kreeft lists four
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