Christianity alongside Islam
Second Prize Winner in the 2011 ‘Christian Book of the Year’ awards
- over 425 pages, 9 maps
- 42 black & white illustrations
- 24 colour pictures
- full indexes
- quality hard cover
Anglican Archbishop Peter Watson beside Muslim Sheik Fehmi at Melbourne’s largest mosque after 9/11. ‘Where others build walls of hostility and hate, our task is to create bridges of understanding and friendship.’
‘Dr John Wilson’s book succeeds in digesting a vast amount of information about both Christianity and Islam and presenting it in a way that is very accessible to non-speciality readers. The approach of concurrent discussion of Christianity and Islam according to particular themes and topics ensures that the reader finds answers to key questions such as ‘How does the Islamic view of “X” affect me as a Christian?’ The book is comprehensive in detail but very readable in style.
This book will undoubtedly assist the urgent task of informing Christians and non-Christian Westerners about Islam. In this way, readers will be equipped to engage with some of the most pressing issues facing the Church and the world in the years ahead.’
Peter Riddell, Professorial Dean, Centre for the study of Islam and Other Faiths, Bible College of Victoria, Australian College of Theology
‘This book gives a clear analysis of the different perspectives of Christianity and Islam – in particular the way they look at language, scriptures and the mission of Jesus. The book does not shy away from the problem of radical Islamism. Readers will find it useful in understanding the challenges of the contemporary world.’
The Hon. Peter Costello
Australian Federal Treasurer, 1996-2007
‘This is a splendid work. What I particularly liked about it is that on the one side the author is fair, thorough and open-minded. One the other side, he discusses the hard issues with openness, awareness and sensitivity. I read every word with care, interest and profit.
Most of the books I have read on the subject of the interface between Islam and Christianity are either academic tomes which never touch the problems or they are full of anti Islamic fervor. This book was a delight.’
Dr Kenneth E. Bailey. Author of ‘The Cross and the Prodigal’, ‘Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes’.
‘An excellent book for the person who wants to know how to respond to questions about Islam. Is Islam about war, peace, politics or pietism? What does Islam say about Jesus, the Bible, human rights, women? In interweaving these and other themes, John Wilson skilfully presents not just Islam and its similarities and differences with Christianity, but the challenge presented by Islam for Christians to live more Christianly. The teacher in John Wilson cannot resist engaging with the new atheism of Richard Dawkins and this provides an intriguing dimension to Christianity alongside Islam.
Historical stories, easy maps, photographs and ample footnotes for those who want to dig deeper all add to this outstanding book.’
Bishop of Tasmania
‘This fine book offers a clear and balanced analysis of Islam in all its complexity, and compares Christianity and Islam with regard to their views on scripture, ethics, and the mission of Jesus. John W. Wilson equips the readers to engage with Islam intelligently, fairly and critically.’
‘An excellent book for anyone who wants to know how to respond to questions about Islam. Is Islam about war, peace, politics or pietism? What does Islam say about Jesus, the Bible, human rights, women? In interweaving these and other themes, John Wilson skilfully presents not just Islam and its similarities and differences with Christianity, but the challenge presented by Islam for Christians to live more Christianly.’
‘What I did not expect when I leafed through it was that I should be immediately captured and read it straight through. It is a very scholarly book, but accessible to the lay reader. I have been recommending it to everyone I meet. I have made a point in reading as much as I can about Islam and the history of the Arab world, because I believe that only with genuine understanding can we hope to live peaceably together, but I feel that I have taken a major step forward in reading this book.’
A.R.C. (Tony) Hewison AM, Former Principal of St. Michaels Grammar School, St. Kilda
We cannot make sense of what is happening in today’s world without some understanding of Christianity and Islam. This book is an excellent help to gaining such an understanding. Its value is enhanced by the way in which it sets the comparison of the two religions in the context of the current secularism of the West which questions the role of any religion in public life.
John Wilson is a retired regional bishop in Melbourne, an Old Testament scholar, who has been researching Islam for more than ten years. It is a substantial book of more than four hundred pages, but it is readable, clear and well illustrated. It does not assume extensive knowledge of either Christianity or Islam, so it is readily accessible to any reader, whatever their religious position or background knowledge. The author writes as a committed Christian, but his presentation of Islam is fair and judicious.
The book naturally examines the theological differences between Christianity and Islam, but it is not simply an abstract study of theology. It looks at the history of the two faiths, the way they understand their respective holy scriptures, their worship and moral standards, their attitudes to politics, violence, human rights, the place of women, science and the environment. In short, many of the great issues being debated in the contemporary world are touched upon.
Dr Wilson argues against two common – but opposite – attitudes to Islam in the West. One is a blind and often emotional hostility to Islam; the other is an attitude which uncritically glosses over major differences between Christianity and Islam. Neither approach is adequate. He is particularly critical of the current crop of militant atheists who dismiss all religion as the cause of much of the violence and other evils in the world.
On the vexed issue of Jihad the author points out that the term may be interpreted either in a spiritual or militaristic sense. The Qur’an has verses which can be used to justify fighting against unbelievers while other passages call for peace. The fact that Muhammad himself was a military leader has no doubt had an effect in shaping Muslim attitudes to war. Of course it is important for Christians to recognise that there are passages in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, which can be (and have been) used to justify violence.
This leads to what I see as a crucial difference in Christian and Muslim understandings of the scriptures. People often assume that the Qur’an is for Muslims what the Bible is for Christians, but it would be truer to say that the Qur’an is for Muslims what Christ is for Christians. So while for the Muslim the words of the Qur’an are final, for Christians Christ (not the Old Testament) is God’s final word.
A particular value of the book is its clear maps, tables, glossaries of terminology and books for further reading. It is available through major bookshops.