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Number of Pages: 256
Publication Date: 2010
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The Rise and Fall of Belief and the Coming Age of the Spirit
There is an essential change taking place in what it means to be “religious” today. As religious people shift their focus to ethical guidelines and spiritual disciplines—not doctrine—we are seeing a universal trend away from hierarchical, regional, patriarchal, and institutional religion. Now, legendary Harvard scholar Harvey Cox offers a new interpretation of the history and future of religion, revealing how doctrines and dogma are giving way to new grassroots movements based in community, social justice, and spiritual experience. The Future of Faith is a major statement and a hopeful vision from one of the most revered theologians today.
Harvey Cox is the Hollis Research Professor of Divinity at Harvard, where he has taught since 1965, both at Harvard Divinity School and in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. His book The Secular City, published in 1965, became an international bestseller and is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most influentialbooks of Protestant theology.
“For the last four decades, Harvey Cox has been the leading trend spotter in American religion.”
“The Future of Faith is insightful, provocative, and inspiringI even found myself uttering a hearty evangelical “Amen” at many points!”
“This important book has not only helped me understand the past, present, and future of this amazing phenomenon called Christianity ... it has also motivated me to keep working to help make actual the possible future Cox envisions.”
“Harvey Cox has been a voice of both reason and faith in our cynical times. Now, he offers a fresh vision for the resurrection of a new global Christianity that will restore our faith both in ourselves and the divine.”
“The Future of Faith is a tour de force. As passionate and challenging as his classic, The Secular City, Cox’s new book invites the faithful, the skeptical, and the fearful into a spirit-filled vision of Christianity that can renew a hurting world.”
“With typical brilliance and lively insight, Cox explores questions in a dazzling blend of memoir, church history and theological commentary . . . Cox remains our most thoughtful commentator on the religious scene, and his spirited portrait of our religious landscape challenges us to think in new ways about faith.”
“Celebrated religious scholar Cox argues that we are witnessing the dawn of a third epoch in Christian history . . . Cox’s work is intriguing, and there is certainly truth in his observations about global Christianity and the rise of Pentecostalism and liberation theology.”
“A lucid and congenial book . . . [Cox] is not alone, but he is most cogent, in thinking that the content of Christian faith is becoming more like that of the early church . . . A book full of good news.”
“With its overarching themes, Cox’s new book can be viewed as the culmination of his life’s scholarship.”
PlesionGender: male2 Stars Out Of 5Still peddling a very unbiblical theologyOctober 20, 2012PlesionGender: maleQuality: 1Value: 1Meets Expectations: 2I had the good fortune to be assigned two of Cox's books for a college class. I say "good fortune" because at age twenty I got an eye-opening introduction to liberal theology in all its shallowness. Cox unfortunately hasn't matured since the 1970s. Like any liberal book, this one attacks the Bible. The author observes there is more than one Bible. Did he think Christians are so stupid that we don't know that Jews don't read the New Testament? He observes that Catholic Bibles include the Apocrypha, most Protestant Bibles don't. His point seems to be that since we don't all agree on what constitutes the Bible, the phrase "Bible-believing Christian" is meaningless. Not true. The New Testament, which all Christians consider more important than the Old, is the same in both Catholic and Protestant Bibles. As for the Apocrypha, those books have never been as widely read or quoted as the other parts of the Bible, so even though Catholics accept the Apocrypha as "inspired," they give it little attention. He seems to think that the existence of so many translations is a sign we don't agree on the Bible, but that is nonsense. (What was the logic here? "Well, gosh, until all Christians everywhere read exactly the same version, just no point in reading the Bible, is there?") Christians do agree on the Bible, and his real beef is that many of us have resisted the efforts of people like him to toss it aside as the relic of a bygone age.
Academics are so convinced of their intellectual superiority that when they light upon a truism that has been around for millennia, they think they discovered something new. He says that "deeds" should be more important than "creeds" for religion. No kidding? Did he never read Matthew 25 with the parable of the sheep and goats, where the Last Judgment depicts God judging people by their deeds? Is he so clueless about Christian history that he thinks that biblical message "faith without works is dead" was suddenly discovered by 20th-century liberals? Go back to the history books, professor, the church has had many waves of reformers reminding people that you can't just recite creeds to be a Christian, you must act like a Christian.
"Religion based on mandatory beliefs is no longer viable." Why not? Lots of Christians for the past two millennia saw no contradiction in holding to a firm set of beliefs AND acting with Christian compassion. His book is basically a long and long-winded justification of his own abandonment of Christian beliefs, so he creates a straw man: the religious conservative (boo, hiss) who is only interested in beliefs, while the noble and compassionate liberals (trumpet fanfare) show their faith by their deeds. That is a very silly either/or proposition that is out of touch with reality. Doctrines exist not to replace deeds, but to give us something solid to hang our minds and hearts on. I wonder if this author who so dislikes fundamentalists is aware that in a typical conservative church the typical sermon deals with behavior, not doctrine.
He says that Fundamentalists "define themselves by their unyielding insistence that faith consisting of believing in certain `fundamentals.'" He detests this "obsession with correct belief," overlooking the fact that many fundamentalists are equally obsessive about correct behavior. He claims he knows fundamentalists well, having been one, briefly, in college. That was 60 years, so it might behoove him to actually spend time with Christian conservatives today before treating them with such contempt in his books.