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Alan Berger: Trialogue and Terror


Trialogue and TerrorAlan L. Berger, ed., Trialogue and Terror: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam after 9/11 (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2012), 288 pages, ISBN 9781608995462.

Trialogue and Terror: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam after 9/11accomplishes several significant tasks for today’s critical interreligious discussion context. First, it points beyond general interreligious dialogue to the need for a particular “trialogue”—or three-way conversation—among the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). Second, it calls attention to the reality of religion-related violence, that is, religious terrorism, as a primary factor contributing to the need for this specific trialogue. And third, it presses upon readers the impact of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the United States regarding the current state of both of the previous points. In short, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have a special responsibility and opportunity to engage one another in peacebuilding conversations because of our mutual entanglement in fatal violence. This argument is made ever more cogent by the example of 9/11, which serves forever as a reminder and motivator that truly pious people must act together to stop the madness driven by ignorance and suspicion. Alan Berger is well qualified for leading a project devoted to these monumental tasks. Berger is Raddock Family Eminent Scholar Chair of Holocaust Studies and directs the Center for the Study of Values and Violence at Florida Atlantic University. He has written, co-authored, and edited numerous books, including The Children of Job, Second Generation Voices, and Jewish-Christian Dialogue.

In Trialogue and Terror Berger has assembled an erudite and impressive team of fifteen scholars (also devotees and advocates) representing each of the Abrahamic faiths. These men and women straightforwardly confront the tremendous challenges facing these religions today and systematically engage major issues that are raised thereby, especially in terms of peaceful coexistence. If no other reason than that, this text is well worth the read! Without simply regurgitating the Table of Contents, these interreligious experts discuss the “golden age” of interreligious dialogue, salvation, the afterlife, the role of education in religious identity, the unique history of Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue, especially after 9/11, and distinctions between dialogue and trialogue. They also discuss Catholic identity in relation to Jews during the administration of Pope Benedict the XVI, the essentials of personal Christian belief, issues of globalization and human rights, and biblical input from the Book of Job. They contrast dialogue with confrontation, argue for a natural alliance between Jews and Muslims, relate Islam to peacebuilding, propose transformation through dialogue in terms of a Muslim search for identity. And they describe a personal journey through layers of religious models and examples into a place of expanded self-identity and increasing openness and respect toward others—largely through direct, unprecedented personal contact with religious others that helped transcend previous deeply entrenched stereotypes.

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2014

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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