Resources

This is the fourth review of my 2020 book, Muslims and Christians Debate Justice and Love. The reviewer is Joshua Canzona, who teaches at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. The journal in which it appears (Interreligious Studies and Intercultural Theology) is related to my publisher, Equinox Publishing in Sheffield, UK. That issue came out in February 2021, about when the other three were published. Of all the reviews, this one emphasizes the most the case study approach I used and notes that it goes a long way in avoiding any temptation on the part of the reader to "essentialize" either Islam or Christianity (meaning, to paint either faith with a wide brush). There is so much diversity of schools and currents in both of these top two world religions! Generalizing is a pitfall that can lead to a lot more tensions between followers of both faiths.

Canzona also welcomes the contribution of this book in our present, often polarized, context, and widely recommends its reading: "In its clarity and emphasis on real-world implications, this volume will be useful to a wide audience of students, scholars, practitioners, and interested readers generally." That said, I wrote it as a textbook I wanted to use personally, and I hope that many colleagues will do the same, whether at the undergraduate or graduate levels. Still, if you exclude the sometimes technical legal/hermeneutical details of Chapter 5 relative to Yusuf al-Qaradawi's work, this is a book most people could easily pick up and read.

This review by Martin Awaana Wullobayi, a Ghanaian scholar who teaches and writes at The Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI), was published in their journal in 2021: Islamochristiana 47. I take heart that an African scholar welcomes this work so enthusiastically. I hope with him that at a time when “hate speeches which divide and deprive humanity of all kinds of friendship and peace, the research topics discussed in Johnston’s book will be useful for reinforcing peaceful positive world view of coexistence between Muslims and Christians.”

 

The Christian Muslim Forum in London ...

  • tackles the tough issues which divide our communities
  • challenges anti-Muslim and anti-Christian hostility
  • supports local church-mosque twinning and friendship

Established in 2006 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Christian Muslim Forum brings together Muslims and Christians from a variety of denominations and traditions to work together for the common good (see more details here).

In March 2021, I was asked to make a half-hour presentation to the CMF's core group, based on my book, Muslims and Christians Debate Justice and Love. Here is the second (mostly different) presentation to some of the church-mosque leaders in their twinning program on June 2, 2021. In both cases I was seeking to present the material in the book in a way that would deepen Christian Muslim engagement in today's society. This time, part of the backdrop was the 11 days of fighting between Hamas and Israel in May 2021. What struck me was the confluence of issues in the protests that followed: Palestinian rights, racism and colonialism at the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the fact that those factors are also behind much of the Islamophobia that Muslims experience in the West.

This is the second review I have come across of my book, Muslims and Christians Debate Justice and Love. It was written by an adjunct lecturer at Coppin State University in Baltimore, MD, Sayyed Hassan Akhlaq (received his PhD in Philosophy in Iran). It was published in Islam and Muslim-Christian Relations 31:461-463 (January 2021).

Katherine Bullock teaches political science and Islamics at the University of Toronto Mississauga. This is the first review I have seen of my new book, Muslims and Christians Debate Justice and Love (Sheffield, UK: Equinox, 2020). It was published in The American Journal of Islam and Society (37:3-4, 2020). I emailed her to thank her for a review that is both "fair and encouraging." I hope that as you read this review, you will also want to read the book and make up your own opinion about it. I can certainly think of several weaknesses in my work, but I also firmly believe that it is an important and timely contribution to a very timely conversation between Muslims, Christians, and all people who want to see and help bring about a more just and peaceful world.

The author I use most in this book to frame and define the idea of justice and how it relates to love from a Christian perspective is Yale philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff. His commendation was late because of family issues and so did not appear on the book's jacket. I paste it here (it's also on the Equinox page for the book):

 

"David Johnston sets himself two important, interconnected, projects in this book, and brings them off superbly. One is to show that both love and justice are fundamental in both Christianity and Islam, contrary to the common stereotype that Christianity is all about love and Islam is all about justice. The other is to show that love and justice are not in tension with each other, as is commonly assumed, but, when rightly understood, are in harmony. I anticipate that the eyes of many readers will be opened, as were the eye of this reader, to Johnston’s demonstration of this fundamental affinity between Christianity and Islam. A valuable feature of Johnston’s presentation is that each chapter opens with a description of systemic injustice in some part of the world. The scholarship is impressive; but this is not just about scholarly texts, it’s about the real world."

—Nicholas Wolterstorff

   Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University

   Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia

This was a paper delivered at a the Society of Vineyard Scholars which in 2014 was held in Columbus, OH. Stanley Hauerwas is one of America's most influential theologians and public intellectuals, and it struck me when I was reading him that he could see no theological justification for human rights. In his view, they are the product of the secular Enlightenment and now also the symptom of all that is wrong with market capitalism and its attendant consummerist society. It is a sign of our postmodern hyper-individualism. In this paper I examine his views of human rights, and those of influential lawyer and writer Steven L. Carter, who as a Christian takes Hauerwas to task on this issue, but from a different angle. I end with a brief look at Pope Francis' first public document Evangelii Gaudium and its teaching on human solidarity. I conclude (unsurprisingly for those who follow my blog) that the Chistian doctrine of creation (Muslim and Jewish too) provide ample grounding for a theology of human rights.

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