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Dangerous Religious Ideas: The Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

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Reveals how faith traditions have always passed down tools for self-examination and debate, because all religious ideas--not just extremist ones--can cause harm, even as they also embody important moral teachings. Scripture's abiding relevance can inspire great goodness, such as welcoming the stranger and extending compassion for the poor. But its authority has also been wi Reveals how faith traditions have always passed down tools for self-examination and debate, because all religious ideas--not just extremist ones--can cause harm, even as they also embody important moral teachings. Scripture's abiding relevance can inspire great goodness, such as welcoming the stranger and extending compassion for the poor. But its authority has also been wielded to defend slavery, marginalize LGBTQ individuals, ignore science, and justify violence. Grounded in close readings of scripture and tradition in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, religious scholar Rachel Mikva shows us that the Abrahamic religions have always been aware of their tremendous power both to harm and to heal. And so they have transmitted their sacred stories along with built-in tools--interpretive traditions--to do the necessary work of taking on dangerous religious ideas and fostering self-critical faith. By exploring the themes of Scripture, Election, Reward and Punishment, Mikva examines how the interpretive methodologies of these religions have identified and grappled with their perilous power and positive potential. Many readers presume that their understanding of scripture's meaning is absolute, forgetting how these sacred texts and the history of interpretation have valued multiple perspectives and recognized ongoing rhythms of change. It's not a modern phenomenon to debate the nature of truth, hold space open for doubt, value humility, and question our capacity to know things--especially about God and God's will--with certainty. In fact, none of the traditions could remain vital or thrive together without a sustained practice of self-critique. Dangerous Religious Ideas reframes the way we talk about faith to create a space where public discussion of religion is more constructive, nuanced, and socially engaged.


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Reveals how faith traditions have always passed down tools for self-examination and debate, because all religious ideas--not just extremist ones--can cause harm, even as they also embody important moral teachings. Scripture's abiding relevance can inspire great goodness, such as welcoming the stranger and extending compassion for the poor. But its authority has also been wi Reveals how faith traditions have always passed down tools for self-examination and debate, because all religious ideas--not just extremist ones--can cause harm, even as they also embody important moral teachings. Scripture's abiding relevance can inspire great goodness, such as welcoming the stranger and extending compassion for the poor. But its authority has also been wielded to defend slavery, marginalize LGBTQ individuals, ignore science, and justify violence. Grounded in close readings of scripture and tradition in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, religious scholar Rachel Mikva shows us that the Abrahamic religions have always been aware of their tremendous power both to harm and to heal. And so they have transmitted their sacred stories along with built-in tools--interpretive traditions--to do the necessary work of taking on dangerous religious ideas and fostering self-critical faith. By exploring the themes of Scripture, Election, Reward and Punishment, Mikva examines how the interpretive methodologies of these religions have identified and grappled with their perilous power and positive potential. Many readers presume that their understanding of scripture's meaning is absolute, forgetting how these sacred texts and the history of interpretation have valued multiple perspectives and recognized ongoing rhythms of change. It's not a modern phenomenon to debate the nature of truth, hold space open for doubt, value humility, and question our capacity to know things--especially about God and God's will--with certainty. In fact, none of the traditions could remain vital or thrive together without a sustained practice of self-critique. Dangerous Religious Ideas reframes the way we talk about faith to create a space where public discussion of religion is more constructive, nuanced, and socially engaged.

44 review for Dangerous Religious Ideas: The Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Cowett

    I have never read a book by a professor that I’m currently studying under, but I’m glad that my first experience was with this book and this professor. Dr. Mikva is an obvious expert in interreligious engagement and the three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and her expertise is on full display in this book. Through three sections on Scripture, election, and reward/punishment, Dr. Mikva explains the simultaneous dangerous and positive attributes inherent to all religious fait I have never read a book by a professor that I’m currently studying under, but I’m glad that my first experience was with this book and this professor. Dr. Mikva is an obvious expert in interreligious engagement and the three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and her expertise is on full display in this book. Through three sections on Scripture, election, and reward/punishment, Dr. Mikva explains the simultaneous dangerous and positive attributes inherent to all religious faiths as well as the methods of self-correction and progress that developed within them. By her conclusion, I gained significant insight not only into my own Christian tradition but the traditions of Judaism and Islam and a more positive outlook on the future of public and political religious practice. This is a must-read for any person of faith, whether or not you’re a current student, a current faith leader, or a current person of faith.

  2. 5 out of 5

    E.

    My Associate Pastor Katie Miller had Rachel Mikva for a seminary class, which was my connection to finding out about this excellent volume. And excellent it is. Mikva argues that any religious idea can be dangerous. Religious ideas have great power to help and bring meaning, but they can also be used to exploit, divide, and cause violence. And it isn't just the ideas of religious extremists, even the ideas of moderates and liberals. So what to do? We must cultivate self-critical religion. And for My Associate Pastor Katie Miller had Rachel Mikva for a seminary class, which was my connection to finding out about this excellent volume. And excellent it is. Mikva argues that any religious idea can be dangerous. Religious ideas have great power to help and bring meaning, but they can also be used to exploit, divide, and cause violence. And it isn't just the ideas of religious extremists, even the ideas of moderates and liberals. So what to do? We must cultivate self-critical religion. And fortunately Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have all always had self-critical aspects to the tradition. And Mikva highlights those in this book.

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    Debee Sue

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    Kit

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    Anisha Chettri

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    Antony Macharia

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    EJ Miller

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    Christa Bengtsson

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    Raymond Stone

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