Fifty years ago, if I wanted to carry on a serious dialogue and apologetic debate with Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, and Muslim scholars I probably needed to go overseas. But with the emergence of the internet and influx of immigration in America and other parts of the Western world, all of that has changed. Great religious diversity now exists in America, especially in its large urban centers.

Even with the growth of secularism, we still live in a largely religious world. In fact, if current trends continue, by 2050 there will be nine billion people living on Earth. Approximately three billion will be Christians, three billion will be Muslims, and three billion others will represent various beliefs (both religious and secular).1

Because I have dialogued and debated with scholars from various faiths,2 people often ask me for recommended sources on world religions. In my personal library I have dozens of books that discuss the religions of the world, but there is one that stands out among them.


The Author Winfried Corduan is a leading Christian scholar, philosopher, and apologist. Born in Germany, Corduan grew up in America. He taught at Taylor University for more than 30 years and led study trips abroad to learn about the world's religions firsthand. He is the author of numerous books on religion, theology, philosophy, and apologetics.Neighboring Faiths by evangelical scholar and author Winfried Corduan is arguably the best Christian introduction to the world's religions available today. And given that the Western world is now a truly global society with all the religions present, it is imperative that Christians have a basic knowledge of the religions of the world. I can't think of a better book to read and study on this critical topic than Corduan's work.

The Book
Neighboring Faiths is a robust Christian introduction to the world's religions. Nearly 500 pages in length, the work contains 14 chapters and covers such world religions as Judaism, Islam, Bahaism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, and the Chinese religions of Daoism and Confucianism. It also contains chapters on the study and practice of religion, along with an examination of the traditional religions of Africans and Native Americans.

Corduan's book includes two helpful chapters on Islam. The first chapter covers Islam's basic history, doctrines, and religious deeds, and the second explores radical Islam in light of the events of 9/11. Here, he explains the meaning of jihad (holy war) and evaluates key groups and individuals within this political-religious side of Islam.

Corduan's work reflects a careful summary of the world's many religions. In a scholarly but readable manner, he explores their beliefs, practices, and values. Yet while Corduan is deeply committed to the unique truth of historic Christianity and evaluates the different religions from a Christian perspective, he nevertheless treats each religion with fairness, respect, and empathy.

Below, Corduan briefly describes how his book relates Christianity to the religions of the world:

The discussion in this book proceeds from an evangelical Christian perspective, which sees interreligious encounters as opportunities for sharing the gospel of redemption. Consequently, this book goes beyond descriptions and summaries, and identifies points of contact and cultural opportunities for gaining a hearing for the Christian gospel.3

Golden Rule of Apologetics
For many years I've taught courses on world religions and comparative religions at the college and university level. Neighboring Faiths is my favorite textbook on the subject. What I deeply appreciate about Corduan and his book is that, while he is firmly committed to the truth claims of Christianity, he nevertheless treats other people's beliefs the way he wants his treated. Every school, church, and personal library should have this book.

Reflections: Your Turn

What world religion do you consider to be Christianity's greatest competitor in the marketplace of religious ideas? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

Endnotes

  1. Pew Research Center, “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010–2050, (April 2, 2015)https://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/.
  2. For my debate with a Hindu scholar, see "Krishna, Christ, and Hinduism Debate—Ken Samples and Dipen Rajyaguru," on Unbelievable? March 4, 2017, https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Unbelievable-Krishna-Christ-and-Hinduism-debate-Ken-Samples-and-Dipen-Rajyaguru. For my debate with a Buddhist scholar, see "Buddhism, Christianity, Nirvana, & Salvation—Alex Crowe and Ken Samples," on Unbelievable? May 27, 2017, https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Unbelievable-Buddhism-Christianity-Nirvana-Salvation-Alex-Crowe-Ken-Samples
  3. Winfried Corduan, Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions,2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2012), 21.

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.



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