Christian Ethics: A Historical and Systematic Analysis of Its Dominant Idea [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 22 (4):751-752 (1969)

Abstract
Faruqi's book is more about Christian dogmatics than about ethics. Its interest stems from the fact that the author is a Muslim who knows recent Protestant thought well and is not afraid to call Karl Barth a bigot. After an interesting but unrelated introduction on methodology in the history of religions, the author settles down to some pet Muslim peeves concerning the doctrines of original sin and the divinity of Christ. Instead of the Jesus of history he presents us with the Koranic Jesus, the universalizing reformer whose mission was to undo Jewish, racialist separatism. Faruqi's Sufi sympathies blind him to the real problems of historical, biblical criticism and his moralistic rationalism allows no place for significant differences amongst men in the coming great brotherhood. For him, Jesus' achievement was to develop an ethic of intent against pharisaic legalism. But this ethic needs to be supplemented by the Muslim emphasis on performance if it is to be transposed from the realm of ideals to the realities of contemporary political life. Considering the history of Christian interpretations of Islam, Faruqi is entitled to retaliate--and so he does, in an overburdened series of footnotes. He is much more tolerant of Arab expansionism than of Western imperialism, and completely insensitive to the psychological power of Judaism. Too often he substitutes derogatory labeling for constructive criticism and so fails to illumine the concepts of love, power, and justice on which any religious ethic must depend. Even so, his scholarly achievement is remarkable, and one learns more from his misunderstanding than from most of the religious apologetics being published today.--C. P. S.
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