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

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

by Rachel S. Mikva

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807051870
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 11/03/2020
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 231,963
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Rachel S. Mikva serves as the Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman Chair in Jewish Studies and the Senior Faculty Fellow of the InterReligious Institute at Chicago Theological Seminary. Rabbi Mikva went to teach and earn her PhD at Jewish Theological Seminary, focusing on rabbinic literature and the history of biblical interpretation. Her courses and research address a range of Jewish and comparative studies, with a special interest in the intersections of scripture, culture, and ethics.

Table of Contents

PART I: DANGEROUS RELIGIOUS IDEAS

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 1
What Are Dangerous Religious Ideas?

PART II: SCRIPTURE

CHAPTER 2
Scripture as a Dangerous Religious Idea

CHAPTER 3
Judaism—The Canonization of Controversy

CHAPTER 4
Christianity—The Human Equation

CHAPTER 5
Islam—The Role of Doubt in Faith

CHAPTER 6
Scripture in the Contemporary Context

PART III: CHOSENNESS AND ELECTION, SUPERSESSION AND SALVATION

CHAPTER 7
A Matrix of Dangerous Religious Ideas

CHAPTER 8
Chosenness in Judaism

CHAPTER 9
Election in Christianity

CHAPTER 10
Divine Guidance in Islam

CHAPTER 11
Enduring Challenges

PART IV: GOOD AND DANGEROUS

CHAPTER 12
Religion in the Public Square? The Case of Criminal Justice

CHAPTER 13
The Space-In-Between

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

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