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The Future of Faithby Harvey Cox
Synopses & Reviews
There is an essential change taking place in what it means to be religious today. Religious people are more interested in ethical guidelines and spiritual disciplines than in doctrines. The result is a universal trend away from hierarchical, regional, patriarchal, and institutional religion. As these changes gain momentum, they evoke an almost point-for-point fundamentalist reaction. Fundamentalism, Cox argues, is on graphic display around the globe because it is dying.
Once suffocated by creeds, hierarchies, and the disastrous merger of the church with the Roman Empire, faith--rather than belief--is once again becoming Christianity's defining quality. This recent move away from dogmatic religion is best explained against the backdrop of three distinct periods of church history:
The Age of Faith: the first three centuries of Christianity, when the early church was more concerned with following Jesus's teachings than enforcing what to believe about Jesus
The Age of Belief: marking a significant shift between the fourth and twentieth centuries when the church focused on orthodoxy and correct doctrine
The Age of the Spirit: a trend that began fifty years ago and is increasingly directing the church of tomorrow whereby Christians are ignoring dogma and breaking down barriers between different religions--spirituality is replacing formal religion
The Future of Faith is a major statement and a hopeful look at a movement that is surfacing within Christianity and other religious traditions by one of the most revered theologians today.
"What shape will the Christian faith take in the 21st century? In the midst of fast-paced global changes and in the face of an apparent resurgence of fundamentalism, can Christianity survive as a living and vital faith? With his typical brilliance and lively insight, Cox explores these and other questions in a dazzling blend of memoir, church history and theological commentary. He divides Christian history into three periods: the Age of Faith, during the first Christian centuries, when the earliest followers of Jesus lived in his Spirit, embraced his hope and followed him in the work he had begun; the Age of Belief, from the Council of Nicaea to the late 20th century, during which the church replaced faith in Jesus with dogma about him; and the Age of the Spirit, in which we're now living, in which Christians are rediscovering the awe and wonder of faith in the tremendous mystery of God. According to Cox, the return to the Spirit that so enlivened the Age of Faith is now enlivening a global Christianity, through movements like Pentecostalism and liberation theology, yearning for the dawning of God's reign of shalom. 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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“A beautiful book and a Cox classic….Readers will be grateful that they joined him on his journey.” —E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Souled Out
“Insightful, provocative, and inspiring—I even found myself uttering a hearty evangelical ‘Amen!” —Richard Mouw, President, Fuller Theological Seminary, and author of Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport
The Future of Faith is Harvard religion scholar Harvey Coxs landmark exploration of why Christian dogmatism is giving way to a grassroots Christianity rooted in social justice and spirituality. Cox laid the groundwork for modern religious writing with his 1965 classic, The Secular City, paving the way for writers like Diana Butler Bass, Karen Armstrong, Stephen Prothero, and Deepak Chopra, who calls The Future of Faith “a fresh vision for the resurrection of a new global Christianity.”
Legendary Harvard religion scholar Harvey Cox offers up a new interpretation of the history and future of religion. Cox identifies three fundamental shifts over the last 2,000 years of church history:
The Age of Faith was when the early church was more concerned with following Jesus' teachings than enforcing what to believe about Jesus.
The Age of Belief marks a significant shift-between the fourth and twentieth centuries-when the church focused on orthodoxy and right beliefs.
The Age of the Spirit, that began in the 1960s and is shaping not just Christianity but other religious traditions today, is ignoring dogma and breaking down barriers between different religions. Spirituality is replacing formal religion.
Reflecting on how his own faith journey mirrors these three historical shifts, Cox personalizes the material in a compelling, practical ways. The Future of Faith is a major statement by one of the most revered theologians today.
About the Author
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 centurys most influentialbooks of Protestant theology.
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