All Saints' Belmont

Parish of Belmont, Anglican Church Newcastle, NSW Australia

Category Archives: Book Review

ChristianityAndIslamTitle: Christianity Alongside Islam.

Author: John W Wilson

Published: Acorn Press Pty Ltd  – 2010

ISBN: 9780908284917

 


The book in our Library at All Saints has a couple of years on it now, as much has happened in the last five years. Dr John Wilson was an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Melbourne, Scholar, and mentor. He wrote the book at a time when he was battling with cancer from which he died the following year, though that is not apparent in the book.

The book is broad reaching, and whilst not an apology for Islam, is one of the most balanced reflections looking at the two sides of two strongly monotheistic positions. In reality most of us in the west know little of Islam, save for what we see on endless television news reports with little depth and insight. The book does ask questions of us as Christians, as much as it asks questions of Islam.

One area I found very interesting is what the Qur’an says about Jesus. I was interested to discover than for many in Islam the problem they have in considering the Jesus account in the Gospels is the death of Jesus, whilst indeed they find the account of the virgin birth much easier to accept.

The notion that a large community of people pray five times each day seems a profound witness, and makes one wonder if we as Christians take our prayer life seriously enough.

One area that Dr John Wilson does take some issue with is that part of Western Democracy which endeavours to re-interpret history with reference to a religious position, a position which he concludes fails to be a true account and as offensive to Muslims as it is to Christians. The separation of Church and State in the West is a area of some conjecture in the Islamic mindset where the notion of ‘I submit’ is both secular and religious.

The books addresses a number of areas of legitimate consideration, including the History of both Jesus and Muhammad, Language, Attitude to Scripture, Confession, Conversion, Life Response, Faith and Politics, Human Rights, Women, Violence and Peace, Science, and World History. The concluding chapter is about God and Hope.

Perhaps one of the advantages of the book, is that being written before the last five years, it can help us understand some of what has happened in the last five years, though he clearly did not see all of it, yet he presents very valid insights that can help us all.

I commend the work to any who would read it.