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World Religions: Western Traditions

by Willard G. Oxtoby

Buy the book: Willard G. Oxtoby. World Religions: Western Traditions

Release Date: August, 2001

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: Willard G. Oxtoby. World Religions: Western Traditions


This is a very poor introduction to western religions. It would be nice if the author learned something about philosophy before he started to critique highly controversial philosophical issues. What's more, he leads the reader to believe that his opinion is the only intellectually respectable one.

The section on Christianity at times seems like it was written by John Dominic Crossan. These radical views on the origins of Christianity are muffled, but they are still presented as the only intellectually respectable opinion to be held. The author comes just short of blatantly asserting that Luke, himslef, fabricated many of the miracles depicted in Luke-Acts. There is no mention of the historicity of Acts, which is unfortunate in light of Colin J. Hemer's almost exhaustive volume on the topic.

The strangest thing about the section on Christianity, though, was the fact that the author included a sub-section about Karl Marx! As if that by itself was not utterly ridiculous for a world religion introduction, he begins the section by claiming that despite the fact that the Soviet Union fell, we should still regard communism as a viable government option! He says that because 1/4 of the world's population is still communist (China), we should still give Marxism another chance! Now, here is another instance of the author stepping outside of his intellectual bounds. China is nothing like what Marxist theory describes. There is just as much inequality in China as there is in any part of the world, so to draw a connection between the survival of "communism" and the viability of Marxist theory is outright silly. The remainder of the section follows suit.

There is also a sub-section on Darwin, which leads the reader to believe that Darwin invalidated Christian theology. Not only is this false, but the whole basis of the argument (unsound as it is) is disputed on scientific grounds. This dispute is growing rapidly, yet the author leads the reader to believe that naturalistic Darwinian theory is unopposed by the intellectual community.

Finally, the section on Islam, written by a different author, is simply an apology. A relatively small sub-section is devoted to women in Islam. This is where all of the criticisms of FGM, polygamy, the Koran's virtual authorization to force female slaves into prostitution, the Koran's declaration of male supremacy, the Koran's authorization to beat disobediant wives, and the Koran's authorization to have female sex slaves might be addressed. But all we get is an insistance that the proscriptions in the Koran were a step (albeit a very small step) up from what they were. If you have to read this, read Why I am not a Muslim to balance your intellect out.

This is a poor excuse for a introduction to religion. It is more of an introduction to the agendas of the editor than that. Please do yourself a favor and never read this book, but if you do, take it with a grain of salt.

From Amazon.com


Pretty decent for a Western Religion textbook, and well researched. Including judaism, christianity, and Islam... my only complaint is that its a bit too broad.

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