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The Crucifix on Mecca’s Front Porch

The Crucifix on Mecca’s Front Porch
(Dr. David Pinault, August 7, 2020)

Transcript available below

About the speaker

David Pinault received his B.A. in French literature from Georgetown University and his M.A.and Ph.D in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include comparative Christology and the status of Christian populations in Muslim-majority societies. Among the countries in which he has done fieldwork are Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan, India, and Indonesia. A recipient of Santa Clara University’s Public Intellectual Award and the Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence, he has served since 2007 as director of SCU’s interdisciplinary program in Arabic, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies (AIMES). He is also involved in wildlife rescue and animal trafficking issues in Southeast Asia and is a member of the advisory board of ProFauna Indonesia.

About the book

His 2018 book The Crucifix on Mecca’s Front Porch: A Christian’s Companion for the Study of Islam has an unusual perspective. It argues that a critically minded examination of Islam can help Christians achieve a deeper appreciation of the unique truths of their own faith. It draws on the author’s personal experiences living in Islamic countries and his fieldwork with persecuted Christian-minority communities, especially in Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, and Indonesia. It includes the author’s own original translations of Islamic texts in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, as well as primary-source materials in Latin that were written by Christian participants in the Crusades.

The author focuses on Muslim interactions with the Christian tradition. He examines and takes issue with the misguided approach of Christians like Hans Küng and Muslims like Mustafa Akyol, who in the interests of Christian-Muslim rapprochement, minimize theological differences between the two faiths, especially in the area of Christology. Such attempts at rapprochement, he writes, do a profound disservice to both religions.

Illustrating the Muslim view of Christ with Islamic polemical texts from the eleventh to the twenty-first centuries, the author draws on Hans Urs von Balthasar, and other theologians of kenotic Christology, to show how Islamic condemnations of divine “weakness” and “neediness” can deepen our appreciation of what is most uniquely Christian in our vision of Jesus, as God-made-man, who voluntarily experiences weakness, suffering, and death in solidarity with all human beings.

A book that’s both timely and urgently needed, The Crucifix on Mecca’s Front Porch invites readers to reflect on the stark differences between Christianity and Islam and come to a fresh appreciation of the Christian faith.

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A transcript will be made available here following his talk.

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