The Gift of Respon­si­bil­i­ty: The Promise of Dia­logue Among Chris­tians, Jews, and Muslims

Lewis S. Mudge
  • Review
By – September 13, 2011

The premise of The Gift of Respon­si­bil­i­ty is that the fun­da­men­tal, over­ar­ch­ing com­mon­al­i­ty among the three major monothe­is­tic reli­gions should unite rather than sep­a­rate them. By deal­ing with the often over­looked shared aims of Judaism, Chris­tian­i­ty, and Islam, rather than with their obvi­ous dif­fer­ences, Lewis S. Mudge, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at San Fran­cis­co The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, presents a sophis­ti­cat­ed yet prac­ti­cal approach to bridg­ing the three religions. 

Mudge asserts that old-fash­ioned Euro­pean diplo­ma­cy” has ben­e­fits but also lim­i­ta­tions. He sug­gests using a dif­fer­ent par­a­digm, approach­ing the issue from the point of view of reli­gion. Until now, reli­gion has been a wedge sep­a­rat­ing the par­ties; Mudge thinks that with prop­er inter­ven­tion it can be a uni­fy­ing force instead. The mate­r­i­al is there, he says; the teach­ing and the texts exist; it is only the focus that is lacking. 

The prob­lem with this approach is the prob­lem with all the­o­ret­i­cal solu­tions — they do not take real­i­ty into account. Reli­gions could cer­tain­ly be the force of peace in the world were they to be prac­ticed in a vac­u­um and were reli­gious lead­ers to be believ­ers, not exploiters, of reli­gious teach­ing. If only that were the case.

Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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