The subtitle of Miroslav Volf’s Allah is the first and best clue to his approach to his subject: A Christian Response. Volf’s book is a pastoral guide to Islam’s God, a work advocating a response to Islam different from the one some Christians have modeled in the public square. Volf, a Yale University theologian and author of the modern classic Exclusion and Embrace, has long been noted for his personal approach to theology, especially to the problem of suffering and religious and cultural strife. Here, he draws on his studies of conflict to chart a new—yet not historically unprecedented—course for interreligious civic life.

I asked Volf about his work on Allah and the tense public relationship between Christianity and Islam.

You say you’re writing to your fellow Christians first and foremost. What do you want your fellow believers to know about Islam?

At the height of the Cold War, when the communist East and the capitalist West were growling at each other ominously, my teacher in Germany, Jürgen Moltmann, used to say that we need to remind ourselves that in Moscow people cook their soup with water, just as we do in Bonn or Washington. Soups are different: ideological differences are real, and they matter. But water is the same: commonalities are undeniable and important.

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