Missio Dei: A Journal of Missional Theology and Praxis 4, no. 2 (August 2013)

forum Interview Article

An Interview with Miroslav Volf

Brad East

Brad East: The upcoming summer issue of the journal Missio Dei is dedicated to the topic of mission and interfaith dialogue in the Abrahamic family. Given your work in the last few years, I thought we’d focus the conversation1 on Christian-Muslim relations, and then specifically in the setting of Christian missions. So to begin, how did you get interested in this subject in the first place? What led to writing Allah: A Christian Response?2

Miroslav Volf: Well, the immediate occasion was the “Common Word” document,3 the argument that Muslims—learned scholars and leaders—have endorsed that what binds Muslims and Christians is the command to love God and to love neighbor. If that is true, then the more “religious” both Muslims and Christians are, the better their relations will be. But then the question, “Well, are we talking about the same God?” immediately surfaces. The whole initiative, as I saw it, depended on the degree to which we can affirm that in some significant way we worship the same God. The issue of whether we worship the same God has been prominent ever since 9/11. That triggered my interest in the question. But my personal and theological interest in Islam is very long. I was born in a fortress that was built after the Ottoman Turks were driven out from the region; it was built in the beginning of the eighteenth century. All around me are remnants of Islamic culture as well as monuments of struggle against Islam. So Islam was always a point of interest.

BE: Did you know in advance of writing the book what you wanted to say, or was part of this a journey of discovery?

MV: Put it this way: I had a hypothesis. And the hypothesis was given to me when I was a ten-year-old boy and when I, for whatever reason, talked to my father, who was a Pentecostal minister, about whether Muslims and Christians worshiped the same God. (Don’t ask me why.) But my father was quite convinced that we did worship the same God.4 He had some experience with Islam early on in his youth and continued to be interested in the question; and so I think that gave me my hypothesis. The research confirmed the hypothesis.

BE: How did you perceive the range of reactions to the book to be?

MV: The range of reactions was all the way from, “I am persuaded; I used to believe differently, and I am persuaded” (that’s kind of roughly in the middle); to, on the one side, “Why did you have to write this 300-page book arguing for what seems to be a totally obvious answer to this question?”; to, on the opposite side of the spectrum, “I know what you’re trying to say; I don’t believe it; and I’m not even going to open up your book to read it.”

BE: Were you surprised by any responses, whether from Christians or from Muslims?

MV: I was surprised by this response, “I know what I believe and I don’t even want to read what you have written.” And I’ve gotten this response, also, from people who, I know, trust what I do, and admire me as a theologian and person—some of my fellow students when I was a student of theology, with whom I have stayed in touch. No prejudice involved against me in their judgment, just a prejudice about the issue. I realized then what I suppose I should have known all along: that there’s something really visceral about it. I can understand if somebody says, “Oh, there’s this guy that teaches at Yale; who knows whether he takes his Christian faith seriously—trinitarian convictions, christological convictions? For the sake of dialogue with Islam, he’s willing to compromise some convictions just to keep peace between religions.” Reaction like that would be based on a prejudice because that’s not where I am theologically and that’s not the kind of book I have written. But I could possibly understand that. It was hard to understand a viscerally negative reaction to the thesis of people who trusted my work and admired me as a person.

BE: Has your thinking on the issue since the publication of the book changed or developed in any way?

MV: It hasn’t changed significantly. In hindsight, I wish I had addressed in the book the analogy between the Christian relationship to Judaism and the Christian relationship to Islam, on that very issue [of worshiping the same God]. I think that analogy needs to be further explored. I think that it gives the strongest support to the thesis I advocate.

BE: That’s interesting—I hadn’t quite connected the “Common Word” document and, sometime in the last five to ten years,5 Peter Ochs’s coauthored piece in The New York Times“Dabru Emet”],6 on the part of Jews, saying, “We worship the same God as Christians, etc.”7 So it’s interesting that both of those things are happening at the same time.

MV: That’s right. From the Jewish side, this was a radical step, a novel step, and I think a very important one. Throughout the centuries, notwithstanding the fact that many Jews, the majority of Jews, have denied that Christians worshiped the same God as they do, Christians have affirmed that they worship the same God as the Jews. Understandably so, because, if you ask Christians, “Who is your God?” the answer is “The God of Abraham, God of Moses, God of . . . and so forth. Hebrew Bible is Christian Old Testament, Christian holy book, therefore, we worship the same God.” But this is a formal argument: “The God of this book is our God; this is the God who is the same one that I worship.” But you can’t leave it at the formal level. You have to ask, “Well, we have trinitarian convictions; they don’t. So how can we then make that claim that Jews worship the same God as we?” Substantive arguments for the claim that Jews worship the same God as Christians will be the arguments for the claim that Muslims worship the same God as Christians. For Muslim objections to the Christian God are actually the same as the Jewish objections.

BE: Turning to more specific questions about missions, evangelism, and so on, your focus in Allah and then A Public Faith8 is, in your words, a matter of “political theology,”9 and so you’re concerned primarily with living peaceably in diverse communities and flourishing in pluralistic societies; but you do also address the practice of Christian witness or evangelism in different ways. So, in Allah, you refer to “a common code of conduct”;10 and elsewhere you give various descriptions or accounts of what this would look like.11 But, in your own words right now, what for you characterizes faithful Christian evangelism?

MV: Christian faith is “a missionary religion.” Christians, both by the internal logic of the faith that they (classically) embrace and by specific injunctions of that faith, are called to bear witness to faith. My sense is that we ought to think of evangelism precisely in those terms, as bearing witness—not converting other people, not making them into Christians, but bearing witness to who God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, is, and leaving the encounter between that God and the person to the conscience of the person and to the work of God in their lives. Christian witness goes wrong when it tries, in subtle or explicit ways, to manipulate people into making a decision, and not allowing sufficient freedom for people to make that decision. Or, to put it the other way, the problem is not respecting the fact that it is the Holy Spirit which adds people to the church, and that Christian evangelists and pastors don’t grow churches. At their best, evangelists do what John the Baptist did: they point to Christ; they say, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” And “He should increase and I should decrease.”12

BE: Keying in on the conversion piece, would you say that “to convert” is not able to be predicated of Christians because Christians are not able to do that? So therefore they should not try to do it, because inevitably it is coercive, and so unfaithful to faithful Christian evangelism? Do I understand you correctly if I were to say it is appropriate for Christians to bear witness with the hope of conversion? With the hope of God converting the person?

MV: I absolutely think so. I think that Christian witness is predicated on a sense that the faith to which one bears witness is true, or, better, that Christ to whom one bears witness, is the truth. Its core convictions, to use the phrase that my colleague here, Kathy Tanner, uses that “Christ is the key”—to who human beings are and to who God is as well.13 So we hope that people would embrace Christ and rejoice when they do. I would expect that somebody who believes that Muhammad is the prophet, the seal of the prophets, would relate to me in a very similar way. That they would bear witness to what they perceive to be the beauty of their faith, which they would hope for me to discover.

BE: So part of the “code of conduct” in bearing witness to one another, individually and as religious communities, is the posture of being willing to receive from the religious other the way in which we would bear witness to them.

MV: Yes. I believe that the “code of conduct” in evangelism ought to be an explication of the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule says “in everything you do”—which means also in evangelism—“do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you.”14 If I wish to be able to witness to you about my faith with the hope of you embracing that faith, I ought to wish that you have the same freedom, and grant you the same freedom, to witness to me. That to me means according equal respect to you that I except you would accord to me.

BE: In A Public Faith, you recommend practicing what you call “hermeneutical hospitality,”15 in the mutual reading of one another’s sacred texts, and you cite Scriptural Reasoning16 as a model for imitation. You may have already answered this, but just to be explicit about it—distinguishing between formal or even informal interreligious dialogue and mission (or bearing witness, or evangelism), the first question would be: Is it appropriate to distinguish those, or are they not to be distinguished? And then: How would you say that “hermeneutical hospitality” relates to something like an apologetics of persuasion, whereby you are seeking to convince or convert the other? How do those relate? Are they different tasks? Are they not so distinct? What would you say about that?

MV: The task of dialogue and the task of witness are distinct; they have distinct goals and distinct modalities of engagement with the other. But they’re mutually implicated. I think every good witnessing happens in the modality of dialogue, in the modality of openness to the other person, imparting gifts and being willing to receive gifts. Similarly, every proper and successful dialogue is a mode of witness, of an attendant claim: “This is what I believe; this is what I consider to be beautiful, true, good.” Dialogue is always an invitation both to understand the other and to consider convictions of another person as having a claim on my life. I think that’s what’s important about interfaith dialogue, that’s what gives it its urgency, weight, and depth—that the conversation makes a claim on the lives of those involved in it. That’s also, of course, a feature of, say, a conversation about any great, classic text. If I don’t open myself to a classic text making a claim upon my life, I am going to have an impoverished conversation with that text. I think the same is true of interreligious dialogue (which is always a dialogue also about religious texts).

BE: I’m interested in the way that this gets played out, both in the American context and in international settings, and specifically in the US in comparison with majority Muslim nations. For example, the ways in which, say, a Muslim in the US might have contexts where he or she were to feel uncomfortable bearing witness to the Muslim faith, and, say, a missionary context where Christians might feel uncomfortable bearing witness to their faith. I’d be interested to hear you talk about the challenges that you perceive in either context, both for Christians to work on and for Muslims to work on.

MV: Let’s assume that we had in place a “code of conduct” for witnessing, for evangelism, which is to say that both Muslims and Christians agree. You still get into a concrete situation, and people might find it uncomfortable, awkward, even if they want to act according to that “code of conduct.” It’ll depend on what happened two weeks ago, prior to your witness “engagement,” whether some suicide bomb has gone off somewhere, or whether some drone has struck somebody somewhere else. To what degree people would feel comfortable, people would feel open, both to share, to speak openly, as well as to receive. I do think that witness has its own proper settings, and we have to attend to the settings, and not just to the “codes of conduct” for those settings. For witness (as well as for the interfaith dialogue), the quality of the relationships is fundamental, both to the articulation of the message and to the receptivity, to the ability to hear what the other person has articulated.

BE: Specifically in the US context, focusing closer to home, what do you see as the greatest single challenge or set of challenges facing Christians in the US in their relationship to Muslims in general17 and to the global Muslim community?

MV: I’m not sure that I can identify a single most important challenge. But it seems to me that we live in a poisoned environment; that after 9/11, something analogous has happened to our psyche as what happened after World War II when we started fearing communists and were gripped by the “red scare.” In many settings, something like a “green scare” is going on. Which means that there is a posture toward the other, a way of reading them and what they say, that can be perhaps described as a kind of hermeneutics of—uncharity. Or hermeneutics of a certain kind of suspicion.

BE: A different kind of hermeneutics of suspicion.

MV: Yes, of radical suspicion about motives. And this isn’t serving us well. Sometimes we Christians end up bearing false witness with our words and deeds. We both twist our own theological positions and distort our practices by failing to follow Jesus in regard to those whom we deem to be our enemies. Such stance has impact on theological reflection, for instance, around the issue of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Here is a good example. Muslims claim that God doesn’t have an associate. In response, some Christians say, “See, they deny the doctrine of the Trinity! Jesus Christ is an associate! We Christians are different than they are!” This is, from an orthodox Christian perspective, obviously a heresy; but they feel that they must be different than Muslims, and so they find themselves learning theology, wrong theology, from the Muslim critique of Christianity! Instead, they should step back and say, “I don’t need to affirm what they deny with regard to my convictions. For in fact what they deny—that God has an associate—is not what Christian faith teaches. I’ll affirm what the Christian faith affirms, what the great teachers of that faith have affirmed through centuries.” One of the things all great teachers absolutely reject is that the Son, or the second person of the Trinity, is an associate of God, of God the Father.

So that’s how enmity sometimes distorts Christian theological reflection. As to the Christian practice, an essential element of the Christian way of life is love of the enemy. Christians who think of Muslims as their enemies, often bristle at the idea that they should love them, really practically love them. If you deny the love of enemy, in general or particular cases, you un-Christian Christianity. It’s so fundamental to the character of the Christian faith.

BE: Along that line, your book, the book you edited,18 interviews like this, and other essays I’m sure,19 contribute to an intellectual response to these challenges that are continuing to face Christians in particular and societies in general. Who else do you see doing good or admirable work, or work that you would commend to others, on these issues? Whether it’s scholars, Christians, Muslims, theologians, or people more on the ground?

MV: When I talk and speak, especially immediately after the book Allah was published, I would often have four or five people come to me and talk to me: “This is the circle that we have, Muslims and Christians, we are gathering; how can you help us? Tell us, what do we do?” So there is quite a bit of engagement with the other going on at a variety of levels and I think that scholarly engagement of the type that I was involved in, or interfaith dialogue at the level of international leadership of Christian communities or in Islam—that’s just one level, one aspect of this.

A lot of good work is happening associated with the Building Bridges Seminar which was going on for 10 years under the auspices of the Archbishop of Canterbury and now has moved to Georgetown University. I think Scriptural Reasoning (associated with David Ford, Peter Ochs, and Aref Nayed) as a method of engagement is extraordinarily fruitful, and it’s fruitful because it doesn’t call into question the identities of the interlocutors, and that I think is very important in these discussions. Nobody should have a sense that one is selling out their faith, or that some kind of a compromise is being reached for the sake of peace. That would be counterproductive, short term and long term. Different church initiatives are taking place in this country: I think of people like Rick Love20 or Bob Roberts.21 I may not always agree with every aspect of what they pursue, but I think those are very useful endeavors.

BE: At the Christian Scholars’ Conference in Nashville last June, you were on a panel convened by John Barton, who is the guest editor of this issue of the journal, on the topic of Abrahamic religious traditions and their reconciliation. To paraphrase—and correct me if I don’t get this right—on the panel you said you were less interested in trying to nail down the “uniqueness” of Christianity, whatever differentiates it from other religious traditions, and more interested in discovering the central importance of shared commonalities which are embraced by the lordship of Jesus. I’d be interested for you to expand on what you meant by that, but obviously correct me if I got that in any way wrong.

MV: I wouldn’t quite put it that way, but the thrust of it is quite right. I’m not interested in the uniqueness of the Christian faith. I’m interested in faithfulness to Christ. Whatever is faithful to Christ is good. Whether what is faithful to Christ is also unique, that’s irrelevant. Not just irrelevant: in fact, the less unique the Christian faith is—provided you are faithful—on the whole the better it is. The reason for that being, that then the other person is closer to truth. The more they share with you, if Christ is the truth and you are faithful to Christ, the closer to truth they are. Christians should have zero interest in uniqueness, and all interest in faithfulness. Presumably around the throne of God in the world to come there’s not going to be any unique religious convictions. Because everybody will have embraced the full truth about the Lamb and the one who sits on the throne nobody will hold to unique theological views. I think therefore that we should concentrate on the center of faith, on Christ, and hope that other people will find this attractive, true. To the extent they do, we rejoice; to the extent they don’t, we patiently wait, and hope.

BE: So if I understand you correctly, it’s less a positive claim—certainly not that there is nothing unique about Christianity, or even that there’s little unique about it—but rather that concentrating energy and focus on making absolutely clear all the unique things about the Christian faith, is just not a very helpful endeavor. That’s not where the energy should be put.

MV: Yes. And more. Some Christians seem to take great pride in their uniqueness and therefore seem happy to act, “the more unique we are, the better it is.”

BE: That that equation doesn’t work.

MV: We often celebrate uniqueness, and we emphasize the difference. I find that posture quite inappropriate and unnecessary. The extreme case is what Origen reports about Celsus’s critique of Christians, who said they’re so obsessed with being different, wanting to be different, that if the whole world became Christian, there’d be something else!22 Difference means demarcation, and demarcation means here pushing away. Again, our interest should be faithfulness; uniqueness will take care of itself, the difference will take care of itself, if you are faithful.

BE: As a follow-up to that, do you think that implicit Christian claims to uniqueness, say, specifically the figure and person of Christ—

MV: So you ask me, “Are there unique things about Christian faith?” Absolutely there are unique things. “Are there some really important things that are unique?” Absolutely. Trinity, divinity of Christ, death of Christ for the ungodly—they are all unique.

BE: And so what role do those play—given the account you just gave, about the way that they should come to the surface, namely, indirectly or in the train of what we should be focusing on, namely faithfulness to Christ—what role do they have, either in interreligious dialogue or in the church’s missionary tasks? Meaning, for example, interreligious dialogue between Christian and Muslim: Is what you’re saying that, say, a Christian and Muslim talking should focus on what is shared, that that should be what is the primary focus of interest?

MV: I don’t think that we should concentrate only on what is shared, because that would be to make the opposite mistake. I think we should focus on what is central.

BE: Whether that be unique or not.

MV: If it’s unique, we’ll deal with it as unique. If it’s shared, we’ll deal with it as shared. But we ought not to concentrate either on difference or on similarity; we ought to concentrate on the central claims of the faith, central claims of a particular text, and parse it out.

BE: So you’re critiquing and proposing a different criterion for what is important. Meaning, you were talking about Christians a second ago who think the criterion for how we should relate ourselves to Muslims or religious others is what makes us different. But what you’re saying is, the criterion is what we think matters most. Whether that is unique or common to others.

MV: Right, a different way of defining ourselves and a different way of determining relation to others. Obsession with uniqueness is a sign of insecurity. “I want to assert something special that I have, affirm my specialness, or specialness of my faith.” We should have no stake in that. What we need to do is affirm the glory and the beauty and the truth of who Jesus Christ is. Ours is a positive message. Obviously, when we affirm something we implicitly negate the opposite. Omnis determinatio est negatio. There is no way to avoid negation, to erase boundaries. And there is no need to do so either. Our basic posture is that of attachment to Christ, not of rejection of others.

BE: A final set of issues or questions, returning to Allah, which we discussed at the beginning—specifically the claim that you argue for and defend, namely that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. I’m interested, not in the claim itself, but in the reasons for making it. I have some quotes I can refer to,23 but at times in the book it feels as if the concern is as much pragmatic as anything; and you push back, you anticipate that critique, and you say that what you’re interested in is the truth, the truth theologically understood. But at times the rhetoric sounds like: If Christians and Muslims did worship different gods, or did not have a common God, it would be effectively impossible for them to live at peace with one another, or to have public debate on issues. Do you feel that strongly? Is that a misreading? What role does the pragmatic approach, what it accomplishes, play in trying to understand this question?

MV: Well, I think my first task as a theologian is to be faithful, not to achieve this or that socially beneficial outcome. But I also think that we need to explore what effects faithfulness or lack of it has on relations with other people; that tells you what’s at stake in the world in the theological discussion we are having. This is especially so if one is doing political theology, rather than simply dogmatic theology. Then the kind of behavioral consequences of faithfulness, or, more precisely, the practice side of faithful convictions matters. The Christian faith comes in a package. You don’t simply have ideas from which consequences follow, so you figure out the truth completely unrelated to the ways of living in the world. I think Christian faith is about living in the world, and Christian convictions as true convictions are modalities of living in the world already. Reflecting on effects of Christian convictions is an important part of reflecting about faithful Christian way of living in the world.

Is this a pragmatic argument, a functionalist argument, in the sense of saying, “I need to achieve a certain goal, I need faith to function in a certain way, so I’ll construct it to be a certain way”? Absolutely not. Because such functionalizing of the Christian faith would be unfaithful, would be to make God serve your ends, instead of you aligning your thinking and life more generally with God’s and serving God’s ends.

BE: As a concluding question, are you doing any further work in this area right now, or in the future? If you’re not—for example I know you’re doing work on globalization—how do you see other work you’re doing, or anticipate doing, relating to some of these issues?

MV: My next projects are on God and human flourishing, and for that I do believe that I need interlocutors on the religious side of things and, on the other hand, on the more secular side of things. So Islam is continuing to be an interlocutor; not a major focus of research, but an interlocutor. In the book on which I am working right now about faith and globalization, I ask two questions, “What is the relationship between faiths and globalization, and what is the relationship of faiths among themselves?” It’s a kind of risky and delicate endeavor, because you are making suggestions from your own perspective—in my case, obviously, Christian perspective—about what other faiths ought to do with regard to globalization and how they ought to relate to one another. But I think that’s the only way we can actually deal with the question. It’s a very important question, and the only way to do it is through a particular lens, rather than trying to do the impossible thing and view things from nowhere in particular. In this project the question of Islam, the second largest religion in the world, obviously plays a significant role.

Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and the founder and director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.

Brad East is a PhD student in Theology in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University.

1 I conducted this interview in person on February 21, 2013. The following is a transcription of the audio recording of the conversation, edited for clarity and meaning with the approval of Prof. Volf, though I have kept certain breaks and interruptions to maintain the give-and-take of the exchange.

2 Miroslav Volf, Allah: A Christian Response (New York: HarperOne, 2011).

3 The letter was published on October 13, 2007; the text, along with resources concerning signatories, recipients, events, initiatives, publications, responses, and so on, is available online: http://www.acommonword.com. See also the subsequent volume: Miroslav Volf, Ghazi bin Muhammad, Melissa Yarrington, eds., A Common Word: Muslims and Christians on Loving God and Neighbor (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009); there the letter is summarized in this way: it “was launched . . . initially as an open letter signed by 138 leading Muslim scholars and intellectuals . . . to the leaders of the Christian churches and denominations of the entire world, including His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. In essence it proposed, based on verses from the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Bible, that Islam and Christianity share, at their core, the twin ‘golden’ commandments of the paramount importance of loving God and loving one’s neighbor. Based on this joint common ground, it called for peace and harmony between Christians and Muslims worldwide” (3).

4 The dedication at the beginning of the book reads: “To my father, a Pentecostal minister who admired Muslims and taught me as a boy that they worship the same God we do.”

5 It was September 10, 2000.

6 For the text, at the conclusion of Jewish and Christian theologians’ responses to and discussion of it, see Carl Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, ed., Jews and Christians: People of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 179–82. See also the book that followed on the heels of the statement: Tikva Frymer-Kensky, David Novak, Peter Ochs, David Fox Sandmel, Michael A. Signer, eds., Christianity in Jewish Terms (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000).

7 It would have been more precise for me to paraphrase: Christians worship the same God as Jews, that is, the God of Israel. The actual theses that, with explication, comprise the statement are as follows: “Jews and Christians worship the same God. . . . Jews and Christians seek authority from the same book—the Bible (what Jews call ‘Tanakh’ and Christians call the ‘Old Testament’). . . . Christians can respect the claim of the Jewish people upon the land of Israel. . . . Jews and Christians accept the moral principles of Torah. . . . Nazism was not a Christian phenomenon. . . . The humanly irreconcilable difference between Jews and Christians will not be settled until God redeems the entire world as promised in Scripture. . . . A new relationship between Jews and Christians will not weaken Jewish practice. . . . Jews and Christians must work together for justice and peace” (Jews and Christians, 179–81; emphasis removed).

8 Miroslav Volf, A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2011).

9 Volf, Allah, 13.

10 Ibid., 211.

11 See, e.g., ibid., 15: “All people have the right to witness about their faith; curtailing that right in any way is an assault on human dignity.” See also Chapter 6, “Sharing Wisdom,” in Volf, A Public Faith, 99–117, which is dedicated to this topic. Finally, see the essay “Soft Difference: Church and Culture in 1 Peter,” in Miroslav Volf, Captive to the Word of God: Engaging the Scripture for Contemporary Theological Reflection (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 65–90, for an exegetical and theological consideration of some of the larger issues in play. He offers there his own concise definition: “Mission fundamentally takes the form of witness and invitation. . . . To be a Christian means to live one’s own identity in the face of others in such a way that one joins inseparably the belief in the truth of one’s own convictions with a respect for the convictions of others” (84–85).

12 See John 1:29; 3:30.

13 See Kathryn Tanner, Christ the Key (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Jesus, Humanity, and the Trinity: A Brief Systematic Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001).

14 The reference is to Matthew 7:12; see the fuller discussion in Volf, Allah, 211–13.

15 Volf, A Public Faith, 136.

16 See David Ford and C.C. Pecknold, eds., The Promise of Scriptural Reasoning (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006).

17 I.e., their neighbors, coworkers, etc.

18A Common Word.

19 See, e.g., Miroslav Volf, “God, Hope, and Human Flourishing,” in Covenant and Hope: Christian and Jewish Reflections, ed. Robert W. Jenson and Eugene B. Korn (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 191–208. Chapter 4, “Human Flourishing,” in A Public Faith, 55–74, is a different form of this essay.

20 Further information is available at his personal website: http://ricklove.net.

21 See Bob Roberts, Jr., Bold as Love: What Can Happen When We See People the Way God Does (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012). See also http://www.globalfaithforum.com and http://www.glocal.net.

22 See Origen, Contra Celsum.

23 Cf. the following statements made by Volf in Allah: “The claim that Muslims and Christians worship radically different deities is good for fighting, but not for living together peacefully” (8); “Muslims and Christians will be able to live in peace with one another only if (1) the identities of each religious group are respected and given room for free expression, and (2) there are significant overlaps in the ultimate values that orient the lives of people in these communities. These two conditions will be met only if . . . Muslims and Christians . . . turn out to have ‘a common God’ ” (8–9, emphasis added); “If Muslims and Christians worshiped different Gods, they would have different and largely opposing ultimate values, and their ability to live together in the same state and in the same globalized world would be diminished significantly” (248).