Monotheism and Tolerance: Recovering a Religion of Reason

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Why are religious tolerance and pluralism so difficult to achieve? Why is the often violent fundamentalist backlash against them so potent? Robert Erlewine looks to a new religion ... of reason for answers to these questions. Drawing on Enlightenment writers Moses Mendelssohn, Immanuel Kant, and Hermann Cohen, who placed Christianity and Judaism in tension with tolerance and pluralism, Erlewine finds a way to break the impasse, soften hostilities, and establish equal relationships with the Other. Erlewine’s recovery of a religion of reason stands in contrast both to secularist critics of religion who reject religion for the sake of reason and to contemporary religious conservatives who eschew reason for the sake of religion. Monotheism and Tolerance suggests a way to deal with the intractable problem of religiously motivated and justified violence. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Why are religious tolerance and pluralism so difficult to achieve? Why is the often violent fundamentalist backlash against them so potent? Robert Erlewine looks to a new religion of reason for answers to these questions. Drawing on Enlightenment writers Moses Mendelssohn, Immanuel Kant, and Hermann Cohen, who placed Christianity and Judaism in tension with tolerance and pluralism, Erlewine finds a way to break the impasse, soften hostilities, and establish equal relationships with the Other. Erlewine’s recovery of a religion of reason stands in contrast both to secularist critics of religion who reject religion for the sake of reason and to contemporary religious conservatives who eschew reason for the sake of religion. Monotheism and Tolerance suggests a way to deal with the intractable problem of religiously motivated and justified violence.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Leora Batnitzky

"An important corrective to recent discussions of the relation between monotheism and tolerance." —Leora Batnitzky, Princeton University

G. M. Smith

The contemporary values of tolerance and pluralism are particularly acute within and for inter-religious interaction between the three Abrahamic-monotheistic religions. However, if monotheistic religions are ever to overcome their antagonistic tensions towards the Other, then critical measures 'must originate and find their basis within these traditions themselves.' Erlewine (Illinois Wesleyan Univ.) indicates that John Hick's and Jürgen Habermas's program--'mutual respect and recognition between citizens, between self and Other,' have been considered and found wanting. As a consequence, traditionalist Jewish and Christian theologians have elaborated political theologies that prioritize revelation while rejecting the Kantian-Enlightenment legacy as filtered through Hick and Habermas. Erlewine articulates his thesis of the religion of reason trajectory, which fuses the integrity of monotheism with the intellectual sustainability of the Enlightenment. The religio-philosophical tradition that he traces, derived from Moses Mendelssohn, Immanuel Kant, and Hermann Cohen, seeks to ameliorate monotheistic intolerance without vitiating the structure of Judaism and Christianity. This religion of reason trajectory engages the three Abrahamic monotheisms, yet is deeply rooted in European philosophy and the Enlightenment. Whether the religion of reason extends to Islam is outside the purview of this book. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above. -- ChoiceG. M. Smith, Delaware County Community College, October 2010

From the Publisher
"An important corrective to recent discussions of the relation between monotheism and tolerance." —Leora Batnitzky, Princeton University

The contemporary values of tolerance and pluralism are particularly acute within and for inter-religious interaction between the three Abrahamic-monotheistic religions. However, if monotheistic religions are ever to overcome their antagonistic tensions towards the Other, then critical measures 'must originate and find their basis within these traditions themselves.' Erlewine (Illinois Wesleyan Univ.) indicates that John Hick's and Jürgen Habermas's program—'mutual respect and recognition between citizens, between self and Other,' have been considered and found wanting. As a consequence, traditionalist Jewish and Christian theologians have elaborated political theologies that prioritize revelation while rejecting the Kantian-Enlightenment legacy as filtered through Hick and Habermas. Erlewine articulates his thesis of the religion of reason trajectory, which fuses the integrity of monotheism with the intellectual sustainability of the Enlightenment. The religio-philosophical tradition that he traces, derived from Moses Mendelssohn, Immanuel Kant, and Hermann Cohen, seeks to ameliorate monotheistic intolerance without vitiating the structure of Judaism and Christianity. This religion of reason trajectory engages the three Abrahamic monotheisms, yet is deeply rooted in European philosophy and the Enlightenment. Whether the religion of reason extends to Islam is outside the purview of this book. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above. — ChoiceG. M. Smith, Delaware County Community College, October 2010

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Robert Erlewine is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgements

Part 1. Overcoming the Current Crisis
1. Monotheism, Tolerance, and Pluralism: The Current Impasse
2. Learning from the Past: Introducing the Thinkers of the Religion of Reason

Part 2. Mendelssohn: Idolatry and Indiscernability
3. Mendelssohn and the Repudiation of Divine Tyranny
4. Monotheism and the Indiscernible Other

Part 3. Kant: Religious Tolerance
5. Radical Evil and the Mire of Unsocial Sociability
6. Kant and the Religion of Tolerance

Part 4. Cohen: Ethical Intolerance
7. Cohen and the Monotheism of Correlation
8. Cohen, Rational Supererogation, and the Suffering Servant

Conclusion: Revelation, Reason, and the Legacy of the Enlightenment

Notes
Works Cited
Index

Indiana University Press

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