Review of Robert Erlewine's Monotheism and Tolerance: Recovering a Religion of Reason

Toward a Non-Violent Intolerance: A Review of Monotheism and Tolerance: Recovering a Religion of Reason, by Robert Erlewine
Indiana University Press, 2010 246 pages
A review by Ingrid Anderson (Boston University)
Monotheism and Tolerance: Recovering a Religion of Reason addresses what its author, Robert Erlewine, calls the "repeated demand" for the adoption of “contemporary values of tolerance and pluralism...[which continue to] pose significant challenges” for the “Abrahamic-monotheistic religions” of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Erlewine notes that “as the calls for tolerance and pluralism, usually made by secularists and religious liberals, grow stronger in the public arena, one cannot help but notice the growing backlash against them.”1It is refreshing that, rather than disregard claims that values such as “tolerance” and “pluralism” are at odds with monotheism's “structural antagonism and hostility toward the Other,” Erlewine takes these claims seriously, and agrees that demands for tolerance and pluralism will understandably go unheeded by traditional religious practitioners if those who make such demands fail to respect, and take into account, the “symbolic or discursive structure shared by Abrahamic religions”2 which, at its core, requires intolerance, or even the obliteration of, the Other.