Friday, February 3, 2017

      It may be politically correct in this post-Christian era to say that Jesus is one of many, someone who lived and died and taught a lot of neat stuff, just like Krishna, the Buddha, Confucius, and Muhammad. Politically correct, but not correct. In his book God among the Sages: Why Jesus Is not just Another Religious Leader (Baker Books, 2017) Kenneth Samples discusses the similarities, and more importantly the differences. 

     The book is divided into three parts which follow a logical progression. Part I is the “Historic Christian Portrait of Jesus” and talks about who Jesus is, how, he saw himself and others saw him; along with ideas on how to answer challenges to that identity. Part II, “Four Major Leaders of World Religions and Jesus”  is a compare/contrast synopsis of Jesus and other leaders. The chapters cover some of the many titles ascribed to Jesus. The titles were chosen to coincide with the titles that other leaders claimed or were given to them. Hindu’s Prince (Krishna), Buddhism’s the Buddha (Gautama), Confucianism’s teacher (Confucius), and Islam’s prophet (Muhammad) are put side by side to Jesus: Lord, Christ, Savior, and son of God.  Part III talks about the truth of Christianity as compared to World Religions (and the 4 mentioned above are just some of the major religions of the world).

         Samples deals with a very touchy subject as addresses the issue of truth: specifically the truth of Christianity.  If the claims of Jesus, and Christianity are true, then by default, some of the claims of other religions must be false. In a culture of inclusivism and pluralism are accepted by many, this is a hard pill to swallow. But Samples treats the issue and the differences with utmost respect.  He insists that tolerance does not mean we agree with everything that proponents of other religions have to offer, but our disagreements should be done in a respectful manner.

         The topics covered in most of the chapters are worthy of entire books (many of which have already been written), so I comment Ken Samples for his clear and to the point presentation of so many difficult to understand topics.

     The discussion questions and suggested readings at the end of each chapter are also very helpful.

        I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.


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