The Universal God is an ambitious work of comparative religion. In it, author R. William Davies sets out to illuminate the great world religions–Hinduism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam–and find the thread that connects them all. He writes: “Each of these religions was founded on truths that are universal in nature and have the potential to bring meaning and purpose into the lives of all human beings. They, however, have remained aloof and apart from one another.”
Davies’ quest is to examine the similarities of each faith and find the true face of God, which has been blurred over the centuries by cultural and societal differences. His hope is to dissolve the barriers that keep so many of us apart from one another. It is a time, he says, “for men of faith to come together and practice their faith.”
Davies’ intention is admirable, and he does a nice job of condensing his material in a way that is accessible and pleasing to read. His enthusiasm is apparent, and his sections on finding God through the outward path (actions and relationships) and the inward world (the mind and soul) are informative and thought provoking.
That said, the book could use editorial shaping: it suffers from some repetitiveness, could use more copyediting, and some of the nuances of each religion are either missing altogether or need more explanation. For example, his chapter on Hinduism could have been better served with more exploration on the importance and diversity of the Vedas, the ancient holy writings, earlier in his chapter.
Still, Davies has written a useful book for general readers interested in learning more about the basic tenets of the world’s major religions. The Universal God would work well in reading circles and as an introduction to the kind of interfaith discussions that are happening more often in our country’s religious institutions.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.