Charles Taliaferro on “The Use and Abuse of Comparative Philosophy of Religion for Life”

Charles Taliaferro is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Emeritus Overby Distinguished Professor at St. Olaf College. We invited him to discuss comparative philosophy of religion as part of our “Philosophers of Religion on Philosophy of Religion” series.

The title of my essay is inspired by Nietzsche’s provocative 1874 essay “The Use and Abuse of History for Life.” However, I confess at the outset, this is a case of flagrant appropriation of a title, putting to one side how to interpret Nietzsche’s own concepts of the use and abuse of inquiry, his concept of what is life-affirming, his critique of history, religion, philosophy, truth, and so on. To compensate fans of Nietzsche for my appropriating his (to me, fetching) title, I offer a guide to engaging Nietzsche’s work.1 So, bracketing whatever Nietzsche’s Übermensch might find life-affirming (if anything) about comparative philosophy of religion, I offer two cases of comparative philosophy of religion that I find life-affirming (useful “for life”) insofar as they can increase the appreciation of different religious identities and reduce religious conflict.

The two cases of comparative philosophy of religion commended in this essay involve Christianity and Islam and Christianity and Judaism. I am a Christian philosopher who has engaged in dialogue with Muslim and Jewish philosophers, so I write as a practitioner in, rather than a spectator of, comparative philosophy of religion.2

Christianity and Islam: As most readers know, the parameters of religious traditions can be quite porous. For example, there are self-described Christians who are not theists (and some seem indistinguishable from secular atheists). As a comparatively conservative Christian (being a theist and accepting the Nicene and Chalcedonian creeds), I find the most promising route to some (at least partial) accord with Muslim philosophers lies in dialogue about our shared monotheism. This is well documented in multiple conferences and publications in which philosophers representing the Abrahamic faiths engage in reflection on divine attributes (including divine goodness, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, eternity, aseity or necessity) and creation. To recommend only one exemplary case of comparative philosophy of religion, consider God and Creation, based on An Ecumenical Symposium in Comparative Religious Thought that took place in 1987.3 There have been abundant such conferences focusing on our monotheism since. These exchanges have included fruitful work on the virtues and vices of philosophical methodology, the need to avoid caricaturing the positions of others, the importance of impartiality, the need to cultivate an appreciation of religious traditions from the point of view of practitioners.4

In addition to a shared focus on monotheism, I highlight Christian-Muslim dialogue about points of difference involving claims about Jesus Christ. The significance of Jesus in Islam is substantial; he is referred to 97 times in the Qur’an (Mary is referred to 70 times). The book, The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature is a rich resource of the myriad portraits of Jesus in Islamic sacred texts and traditions.5 On exchanges about Jesus Christ, I find that there is a greater opportunity for accord (but not, of course, full agreement) when Christianity is represented in the context of a high Christology. In that vein, Jesus Christ is identified as at one with the second member of the trinity. The incarnation involves the pre-existence of Jesus, prior to (or independent of) the birth of Jesus of Nazarus. On this view, Jesus is fully human and wholly God (Totus Deus) but not the whole of God (Totum Dei). This can enable one to interpret some of the historically divisive scriptural teachings that are closer (or less attenuated) from an Islamic perspective. Consider these tenets: the proclamation that Christ is the Messiah; Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the light, and that no one comes to the Father except through Christ; and the affirmation of the trinity. Muslims see Jesus as only a prophet, not the Messiah, Jesus is not divine, and there are explicit denials of the trinity in the Qur’an. Even so, the notion that Jesus is the Messiah is compatible with (or can be interpreted as) the notion that God (Allah) worked through Jesus Christ to show the path of redemption. Muslims can (and do) believe that Allah is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to Allah except by Allah. This does not (explicitly) rule out that Allah might act through Jesus, the prophet, to show us the way to Allah. While Muslims must deny what is called the social model of the trinity (the Godhead consists of three persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit), they can (in principle) be more hospitable to modal accounts of the trinity (as found in Barth and Rahner). On the later, God is revealed in three modes, quite independent of God’s internal constitution.6 There are, of course, vexing contrasts. The Qur’an seems to hold that Jesus was not killed; Keith Ward proposes that the Qur’anic verse may be rendered as the claim that Jesus appeared to be killed (in the sense that he appeared to his enemies to be annihilated), but he instead ascended into the presence of Allah.7 I readily affirm that there are genuine conflicts between traditional Christian and Muslim claims. I only sketch here some paths toward some compatibility. In my experience, such accord has been sufficient to join in a shared prayer on several occasions with Muslim philosophers. For those philosophers of religion who identify religions as forms of life, such shared practices provide some evidence of concord.

Christianity and Judaism. The tension between Judaism and Christianity, going back to the first century is well documented. And at times, “tension” is obviously too weak a term. There is indisputable evidence that historically significant anti-Semitism in Christian tradition has prompted violent, systematic persecution culminating in the murder of six million Jews in the mid-twentieth century.8 How might comparative philosophy of religion address such horror and tragedy? One role by Christian philosophical theologians has been to reject a stagnant understanding of the meaning of revealed, sacred texts and earlier dogmatic claims that regard the divine covenant with the Jews as surpassed and rendered void. Some late 20th century Christian philosophers, including Pope John Paul II (who was trained in phenomenology), repudiate the sinful legacy of anti-Semitism, affirm the Jewish roots of Christianity, and reject supersessionism (Christianity supersedes Judaism) in favor of recognizing the continuous integrity of Judaism as a divine covenantal community. This is an on-going process. The Anglican Bishop and Biblical scholar, N.T. Wright laments interpreting the New Testament “through the misted-up spectacles of post-Holocaust western thinkers.” But this seems to treat the meaning of the New Testament as something fixed in time and not subject to what some Christian philosophers and theologians contend are new insights about God’s nature and goodness.

To some secular philosophers, the above cases may seem mired in superstition and discredited views of revelation. To those readers I propose a thought experiment. Imagine (if only for the sake of pursuing a sense of interreligious dialogue from the standpoint of a practitioner) you believe that the Abrahamic faiths each do offer some elements of an authentic view of God as good and just. If so, isn’t there some reason to think that promoting such constructive moves are a good use of comparative philosophy of religion, whereas undermining them may not be abuse, but less than helpful.

1. Nietzsche’s essay is available online:
For secondary work, I recommend “Nietzsche’s Theory of Value and the Good Life” in Value and the Good Life by Thomas Carson (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000, chapter 4, 97-123 and “Friedrich Nietzsche and the Genealogy of Evil” by David Booth in The History of Evil in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries edited by D. Hedley, C. Meister, C. Taliaferro (London: Routledge, 2018, chapter 16, 236-247.

2. The notion of being a Christian philosopher is not clearly delineated in the philosophy of religion literature. See, for example, Christian Philosophy: Conceptions, Continuations, and Challenges edited by J. Aaron Simmons. In this context, suffice to say I have been in dialogue about the relationship of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in which I represent Christianity and other philosophers represent Islam and Judaism. See my own and others contributions to Interreligious Dialogue edited by G. Oppy and N.N. Takakis (London: Routledge, 2020). On the relationship of Christianity and Islam, I am indebted to Keith Ward’s Religion in the Modern World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019) and on Christianity and Judaism, see “The Cruelty of Supersessianism: The Case of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” by John Phelan, Religions 13:59, 2022, 1-13.

3. God and Creation edited by David Burrell and Bernard McGinn (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2017).

4. In a philosophical meeting in Tehran with Muslim philosophers in 2013, I presented “Is there a place for Strategic Thinking in Philosophical Refection?” later published with co-author Thomas Churchill in Philosophia Christi 17:1, 2015, 213-221. We contend that there is no place for strategic thinking or arguments where “strategy” involves manipulation, the aim of winning disputes as opposed to seeking the truth.

5. Collected, edited, and translated by Tarif Khalidi, Harvard University Press, 2001.

6. If the social model of the trinity is accepted, then the main, more modest tenet of the modal account follows but not vice versa. After all, if the Godhead consists in three persons, then there are three modes in which God is revealed. See the Stanford Encyclopedia entry “Philosophy and Christian Theology”:

7. Religion in the Modern World, 151.

8. See the US Holocaust Museum’s summary of the history here:

Nathan Eric Dickman – “Beyond Comparing to Sharing Questions for the Sake of Understanding”

Nathan Eric Dickman (PhD, The University of Iowa) is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of the Ozarks. He researches in hermeneutic phenomenology, philosophy of language, and comparative questions in philosophies of religions, with particular concerns about global social justice issues in ethics and religions. He has taught a breadth of courses, from Critical Thinking to Zen, and Existentialism to Greek & Arabic philosophy. His book titled Using Questions to Think (Bloomsbury, 2021) examines the roles questions play in critical thinking and reasoning, his book titled Philosophical Hermeneutics and the Priority of Questions in Religions (Bloomsbury, 2022) examines the roles questions play in religious discourse, and his book titled Interpretation: A Critical Primer (Equinox, 2023) examines the role of questions in the interpretation of texts. We invited him to discuss comparative philosophy of religion as part of our “Philosophers of Religion on Philosophy of Religion” series.

It’s probably worthwhile to ask “Which ‘philosophy of religion’?” As it has taken shape in Anglo-American departments of philosophy? As it is undertaken in confessional seminaries? Or, as it is coming to be in secular religious studies programs?

Disciples run rampant in philosophy departments, but discipleship is discouraged in religious studies programs. It’s rare to meet a religious studies scholar who willingly self-identifies as a (Jonathan Z.) Smithian, or a (Russell T.) McCutcheonian, or even a (Rudolf) Ottoian. Yet philosophers espouse loyalty to masters before they get into a topic, saying that they are a Kantian, or Platonist, or Plantingian, or Deleuzian. These tendencies can help keep the fields distinct from one another. What “comparison” can mean for philosophy of religions depends on which field’s assumptions and norms are guiding the discussion. (Bureaucratically speaking with regard to academic programs and departments, religious studies is an interdisciplinary field unified by the subject matter, whereas philosophy is a single discipline. I will leave confessional seminaries to the side.)

Many religious studies works confront limitations of and develop methods for comparison in the academic study of religions (see Hughes 2017; Freiberger 2019; Poole 1986; and Alexander 1976). However, comparison has been a staple subject of philosophical examination for millennia. Zhuangzi, the ancient Chinese master of paradox, critiques bases of comparison as anthropocentric or even self-centered (Zhuangzi 2009, 30-32). Aristotle specifies comparison as both a mode of rhetoric and a function of substance categories (Aristotle 1995, 1089a15-30). With regard to religions, however, categorization took on a seeming urgency with the nineteenth century rationalization of colonialism. It is at this moment that—as Masuzawa explains—“the protean notion [category!] of ‘religion’… came to acquire the kind of overwhelming sense of objective reality, concrete facticity, and utter self-evidence that now holds us in its sway” (Masuzawa 2005, 2). In this context, many philosophers of religions—or perhaps we should really call them liberal natural theologians—developed perennial pluralist theosophies (see Hick 2004, Nasr 1984, and Thich 2007). Masuzawa raises the question of whether these are still complicit with Eurocentric colonialism, further naturalizing European subjectivity’s rage for order and categorization.

Religious traditions do not really exist. Taxonomic terms such as “Islam” or “Buddhism” or “Atheism” are reifications of complex and highly differentiated cultural phenomena. If someone were to ask, “What do Muslims believe?” the only proper initial response is, “Which Muslims?” If someone were to ask, “What do atheists believe?” again the only proper initial response is, “Which atheists?” These questions serve as an antidote to our tendencies toward reification, bringing our orientations back down to earth, back to actual people doing things. Since this is so, what does it even mean fruitfully to compare “different religious traditions”? Are there different religious traditions? Whose interests are served in claiming yes or no? Whose interests are served by demarcating this as exclusively tradition X and that as exclusively tradition Y?

Of course, many self-identifying Christians or Buddhists believe that there is such a thing as “Christianity” or “Buddhism.” That is, it is perfectly ordinary for members of a religious group to believe that there really is such a thing as a “religion” and that they belong to or participate in such a thing. It is based on their conception of their religion that they distinguish between orthodoxy and heresy. For example, some self-identifying Christians claim not only that their denomination correctly embodies “Christianity,” but they also deny some other groups even are Christian—such as the mainstream Protestant prejudice against the Church of Latter Day Saints or even Catholicism. Many Theravadin Buddhists see some Japanese Buddhists as distorting “true Buddhism,” such as raising concerns about monastic celibacy when some Japanese monks and abbots marry. That is, they see their version of Buddhism not as a mere version of it but as its only instance. Moreover, we know that throughout history and in many contemporary cultures, people have participated in what often now are called different religious traditions without experiencing any existential contradictions. For example, temples in Taiwan include elements of Confucianism, popular Chinese spirits, Daoism, Buddhism, and more. In a traditional Japanese home, there are both Shinto and Buddhist shrines. As recent surveys show, many contemporary Christians believe in reincarnation, which is typically associated with Indian religious traditions such as Hinduism even though reincarnation proliferated throughout the Hellenistic world in which Jesus-movements emerged.

What is there to do in such a scenario that could count as “comparison” in philosophy of religions? J. L. Metha says we can only compare questions. He writes, “[Shankara] and Kant, it is obvious, were not asking the same questions, and therefore it is senseless to compare just their answers, as if they could be meaningful apart from the questions to which they were answers and could be taken as absolute statements. One can thus only compare questions, strictly speaking, and go on to look for similarities and differences between the procedures adopted to arrive at the answers” (Mehta 1970, 304; my emphasis). Because questions are only meaningful within horizons of intelligibility, they are often “hidden under the answers…” and so we need to bring them to the surface through interpretive effort. By unearthing the ontological presuppositions that silently frame them, we gain a deeper understanding of the questions these philosophers were asking.

While I find Metha’s point productive, I want to encourage going beyond comparing questions to sharing them. As I have explained elsewhere (see Dickman 2021a; and Dickman 2022), the hermeneutic priority of questioning entails that only by sharing questions can we come to understand what we have to say to one another. That is, to consider a question is to ask it, and understanding happens only when what someone says answers to a question we are actually asking. Like reading a page of a book, getting to the end, and wondering “What did I just read?”, when we do not ask the questions to which the sentences respond, what is said will be lost on us. To understand what others have to say, we have to ask their questions with them. Only in this way can we receive what they have to say as meanings we can understand. Consider the question: “What year is it?” It is not impossible to imagine one person asking this, and another responding with, “Yeah, what year is it, really?” Such a conversation might unfold into exploration of varying conventions of era-dating systems, metaphysics of time, and more. While we know it is only 2023 CE relative to one era-dating system—one complicit with Euro-Christian global hegemony—there are other era-dating systems found in other religious traditions, such as the Islamic and Jewish calendars. Such a shared asking of the question opens up the possibility for exploration and critique of colonialist conventions. A problem with many contemporary people who identify as religious is that they seem not to be asking the questions to which their religions respond. For example, one question asked by many first century Palestinian Jews was, “Who will be my messiah?” That is, they lived in a culture where the term “messiah” played a role in their interpretive horizons. It is not clear that the concept plays any role at all in the lives of most people in US society. Part of what grounds questioning’s hermeneutic priority is precisely this possibility for shared asking of a question that allows for a dialogue rather than a compulsive conclusion with “the” answer. It suspends answering rather than demanding the answer.

One worry about such an approach is whether sharing questions with an exploratory disposition suspends any and all “truth claims.” It seems that many scholars of philosophy of religions take evaluation of truth claims as a fundamental task of philosophy (see Schilbrack 2014; and Knepper 2013). To what degree might many analytic and continental philosophical approaches to evaluating truth claims be complicit with the Eurocentric and patriarchal status quo? I am inclined to agree with Masuzawa and others that—at least at this point in the institution of philosophy’s reckoning with its history of bias—the task of adjudicating truth claims perpetuates patriarchal Eurocentrism. I am advocating that we suspend this need for “the” answer, which will not only help to destabilize Eurocentrism, but it will also help us to share questions concerning “truth” and to put our culturally specific prejudices about truth itself at risk of critique. By sharing questions, we can shift our understanding of “comparison” as a method for discovery toward “comparison” as a critique of the very categories we use to analyze, explain, and interpret phenomena (see Nicholson 2009). By sharing questions, we reveal the predicative radiance of subject matters ripe for interpretive play and re-creation (or redescription).

A few scholars have attempted to perform this sharing of questions in philosophy of religions. Anh Tuan Nuyen (2011) brings together Kantian obligations-based ethics and Confucian role-based ethics to address concerns about expanding the moral community to include the environment. Ian Almond (2002) places Ibn ‘Arabi and Derrida into conversation on the positive functions of bewilderment, such as its opening us to see things we miss when we believe we know what we are doing. I have also tried to undertake this in discussions about the origin or creation of the universe, integrating insights from Nagarjuna, Ibn Rushd, Maimonides, Tillich, and more, on the question of queering the edges of space and time (2021b).

Works Cited

Alexander, Laurence L. 1976. “Ricoeur’s Symbolism of Evil and Cross-Cultural Comparison: The Representation of Evil in Maya Indian Culture.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 44(4): 705-714.

Almond, Ian. 2002. “The Honesty of the Perplexed: Derrida and Ibn ‘Arabi on ‘Bewilderment.’” Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 70(3): 515-537.

Aristotle. 1995. The Complete Works of Aristotle: Revised Oxford Translation, Vols I & II. Edited by Jonathan Barnes. Princeton University Press.

Dickman, Nathan Eric. 2021a. Using Questions to Think: How to Develop Skills in Critical Understanding and Reasoning. Bloomsbury.

Dickman, Nathan Eric. 2021b. “Where, not When, Did the Cosmos ‘Begin’?” Sophia 60(1): 67-81.

Dickman, Nathan Eric. 2022. Philosophical Hermeneutics and the Priority of Question in Religions: Bringing the Discourse of Gods and Buddhas Down to Earth. Bloomsbury.

Freiberger, Oliver. 2019. Considering Comparison: A Method for Religious Studies. Oxford University Press.

Hick, John. 2004. An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent (2nd edition). Yale University Press.

Hughes, Aaron W. 2017. Comparison: A Critical Primer. Equinox Publishing.

Knepper, Timothy D. 2013. The Ends of Philosophy of Religion: Terminus and Telos. Palgrave Macmillan.

Mehta, J. L. 1970. “Heidegger and the Comparison of Indian and Western Philosophy.” Philosophy East and West. 20(3): 303-317.

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. 1984. The role of the traditional sciences in the encounter of religion and science: an oriental perspective. Religious Studies. 20(4), 519–541.

Nicholson, Hugh. 2009. “The Reunification of Theology and Comparison in the New Comparative Theology.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 77(3): 609-646.

Nuyen, Anh Tuan. 2011. “Confucian Role-Based Ethics and Strong Environmental Ethics.” Environmental Values. 20(4): 549-566.

Poole, Fitz John Porter. 1986. “Metaphors and Maps: Towards Comparison in the Anthropology of Religion.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 54(3): 411-457.

Schilbrack, Kevin. 2014. Philosophy and the Study of Religions: A Manifesto. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.

Thich Nhat Hanh. 2007. Living Buddha, living Christ. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

Zhuangzi. 2009. Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings with Selections from Traditional Commentaries. Translated by Brook Ziporyn. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.

Daniel Dombrowski – “Charles Hartshorne’s Philosophers Speak of God as Comparative Philosophy of Religion”

Photo by: Yosef Chaim Kalinko

Daniel Dombrowski is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Seattle University. He is the recipient of the prestigious 2016-17 McGoldrick Fellowship and the author of twenty-two books and over a hundred articles in scholarly journals in philosophy, theology, classics, and literature. We invited him to discuss comparative philosophy of religion as part of our “Philosophers of Religion on Philosophy of Religion” series.

An early classic in comparative philosophy of religion is a 1953 book edited by Charles Hartshorne and William Reese (hereafter: Hartshorne, who was the driving force behind the work) titled Philosophers Speak of God (University of Chicago Press, reissued in 2000 by Humanity Books). This work contains selections from thinkers from around the world and from various traditions on the topic of the concept of God. Extensive introductions to and commentaries on each anthologized author are offered by Hartshorne. These introductions and commentaries are very often worthy contributions in their own right and still deserve attention from philosophers seventy years after initial publication of the book.

One key concept worthy of comparative analysis is “classical theism,” a philosophical (not necessarily scriptural) view of God that has dominated the history of philosophy in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This view is monopolar in the sense that God is characterized by being rather than becoming, permanence rather than change, activity rather than passivity, etc. Hartshorne’s stance is that classical theism does a poor job of thinking through the “logic of perfection,” especially regarding intractable problems concerning theodicy (due to a view of God who is assumed to be omnipotent in the sense of being ultimately responsible for everything that occurs) and concerning the incompatibility of belief in human freedom and belief in divine omniscience (in the sense of God knowing with absolute assurance and in minute detail the outcome of future “contingencies”). That is, classical theism collapses in the face of the nastiest version of the problem of evil and the tendency toward determinism. Yet the list of classical theists in the Abrahamic religions is vast: e.g., Philo and Maimonides in Judaism; Saints Augustine, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, and Descartes in Catholicism, along with many other Christian thinkers like Luther, Calvin, Leibniz, Kant, et al.; and Al-Ghazzali and many others in Islam.

Hartshorne’s preferred alternative to classical theism is called neoclassical (or, more popularly, process) theism, which is dipolar in that there are perfect types of becoming as well as being, change as well as permanence, passivity as well as activity. Further, neoclassical theism includes a critique of divine omnipotence (although God is still seen as ideal power) and a defense of a view of divine omniscience wherein human freedom is preserved. The greatest conceivable being-in-becoming knows all that logically can be known, but no being, not even a divine one, can know the details of the future that are not here yet to be known. This type of theism is also well represented in the Abrahamic religions (even if it is not as pervasive as classical theism), including Jewish thinkers like Martin Buber, Abraham Heschel, and Paul Weiss; many thinkers influenced by Christianity, most notably Henri Bergson, Alfred North Whitehead, Teilhard de Chardin, Nicholas Berdyaev, and Hartshorne himself; and several Muslim thinkers like Mohammed Iqbal. The list of neoclassical theists in all of these religions has grown significantly since the initial publication of Philosophers Speak of God.

There are many other concepts of God in addition to classical theism and neoclassical theism that provide helpful comparative lenses. For example, neoclassical theism was anticipated in the ancient world by Ikhnaton in Egypt, the Judeo-Christian and Hindu scriptures, and Lao-tse, along with Plato, whose later dialogues point toward a concept of God that is difficult to see as compatible with classical theism, despite his (and Aristotle’s) obvious and ironic influence on classical theism. That is, Hartshorne’s analysis of the concept of God is conducive not only to comparative philosophy that is spatially extensive, but also temporally vast. One historical figure who receives special attention is St. Anselm, whose modal version of the ontological argument (discovered by Hartshorne) for the existence of God is defended, but whose classical theistic concept of God is criticized.

Neoclassical theism is also a sort of panentheism (all is in God), in partial contrast to both the otherworldliness of classical theism as well as the strictly immanent God of pantheism (all is God). The latter is represented, e.g., by Asvaghosa and Sankara, as well as by Western thinkers like Spinoza and Josiah Royce. In this regard, neoclassical theism can be seen as a moderate view between classical theism and pantheism. It can also be seen as a moderate stance between strict divine eternity found in classical theism or Plotinian emanationism, on the one hand, and strictly temporalistic theisms that do not include neoclassical divine everlastingness, on the other. Here Hartshorne identifies Samuel Alexander and Henry Nelson Wieman.

The book also has several religious skeptics and atheists represented. But it should not be assumed without argument and without qualification that Buddhism is necessarily a nontheistic religion in that the Buddha himself spoke of an underlying dynamic reality that is unborn, a view that may very well be compatible with certain aspects of neoclassical theism. Here Hartshorne relies on the noted Buddhist scholar D. T. Suzuki.

In short, in this densely argued book there is still much for scholars in comparative philosophy of religion to consider, to mull over, and with which to disagree. It is the sort of book that cannot be read straight through, hence it can understandably be seen as something of a process theistic encyclopedia of comparative religious thought about the concept of God. Further, it offers a way to look at comparative issues that is both thought-provoking and argumentative. It is, of course, a tendentious book, but it is precisely its distinctive point of view that continues to commend itself to us. Hartshorne would have us believe that, in addition to comparing religions, there is also the need to compare concepts of perfection, a logic of perfection that spans across and within religions in unexpected ways.