The secular city secularization and urbanization in theological perspective

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the secular city secularization and urbanization in theological perspective

The Secular City: Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective by Harvey Cox

Basic liberal Christian apology - an attempt to recast Christianity in a way that appeals to educated, liberal urbanites. It is, in his words, verbal byplay in which . . . [he tries] to convince contemporary nontheists [and non-Christians in general] that the differences among men today over the reality of God are merely verbal (259). Of course, he uses these words to criticize others theology, not his own.
In essence, he says to the liberal, educated urbanite, Youre right: mankind has outgrown religion. But only as it has been cast in the past. In reality - i.e., in the way I cast it - that is the heart of true religion (read: Christianity). God is trying to get humans to abandon their unhealthy reliance on him and become true humans. In it, the Gospel becomes a euphemism for Christianity

To begin with, Cox recognizes that his audience is probably well educated, and even biblically literate. To that end, he must answer one question that plagues contemporary Christianity: how is it that the God we see in both the Old and New Testaments is so radically and concretely involved in human life compared to what we see today? In the Bible we have God parting the Red Sea and raising Jesus from the dead (which of course means nothing other than God raising himself from the dead, according to traditional theology); destroying complete cities with fire and brimstone from heaven and enabling people to walk on water. And yet he is curiously absent in our present reality. No donkeys are talking to anyone; no whales swallowing stubborn televangelists. There are no pillars of fire, no booming voices. What happened to God? Well, the problem, according to Cox, lies in the question itself. God is hidden, and He cannot be expected to appear when we designate the place and time (261). Very clever. The problem is that were basically daring God to exist rather than looking to the hints God has dropped in the past in order to make out what He is doing today (254). The Bible, then, is just a collection of hints (not divinely inspired as such, and not infallible - a great relief to educated urbanites). In fact, God does not appear in Jesus; He hides himself in the stable of human history (258). We just need to figure out where God is working and join him. This includes standing in a picket line (256) or, as implied on the back-cover biography of Cox, spending time in jail because for the cause of civil rights. In other words, hes saying, Rest easy, liberal, educated urbanites. Im not out to change your ultimate concern. Im just trying to get you to frame it in a different way.

In other words, hes saying, Were not trying to convert the world to Christianity, so if thats one of your main obstacles to Christianity, you can go ahead and convert because its not a legitimate concern. Its liberal Christian apology, and nothing else. Being Christian is basically being nice to others and helping them occasionally, he seems to be saying. A comfortable, educated middle class liberal perspective. Get involved, but not too involved. You dont need to risk everything to be a Christian, because that removes responsibility from others.

But what about the exclusivist claims of Christianity? No problem, for if we need the nontheists then certainly we need others of other religious faiths. Its like trying to convert people without admitting that you want to convert everyone.

In the end, its a theological version of having your cake and eating it too. The liberal, social activism and the comfort of Christian belief. Theyre one and the same! says Cox. Its sort of like suburban liberation theology.

By necessity, its squishy theology - long on abstract notions, short on concrete specifics:

We speak of God to secular man by speaking about man, by talking about man as he is seen in the biblical perspective. Secular talk about God occurs only when we are away from the ghetto and out of costume, when we are participants in that political action by which He restores men to each other in mutual concern and responsibility (256).

Now we get a hint as to what this might mean from his picket line comment, but hes careful not to give too many specifics, lest he face the accusation of merely being a liberal in Christian clothes.

There are some good portions of the book. I was particularly pleased with the section dealing with Playboy magazine as a method of subversively dealing with (and consequently perpetuating) the male fear of sex that has arisen in our culture.

Other than that, silly nonsense.
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Published 13.12.2018

Faith Seeking Understanding: Religious America, Secular Europe - Peter Berger

ISBN 13: 9780140209754

Since its initial publication in , The Secular City has been hailed as a classic for its nuanced exploration of the relationships among the rise of urban civilization, the decline of hierarchical, institutional religion, and the place of the secular within society. Now, half a century later, this international best seller remains as relevant as when it first appeared. The book's arguments--that secularity has a positive effect on institutions, that the city can be a space where people of all faiths fulfill their potential, and that God is present in both the secular and formal religious realms--still resonate with readers of all backgrounds. For this brand-new edition, Harvey Cox provides a substantial and updated introduction. He reflects on the book's initial stunning success in an age of political and religious upheaval and makes the case for its enduring relevance at a time when the debates that The Secular City helped ignite have caught fire once again. The Secular City , his first book, has sold nearly a million copies and has been translated into seventeen languages. Teaching Professors : To request a print examination copy for course consideration, please visit: Ingram Academic.

Harvey Gallagher Cox Jr. Cox's research and teaching focus on theological developments in world Christianity , including liberation theology and the role of Christianity in Latin America. After a stint in the U.
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The Secular City: Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective

Since its initial publication in , The Secular City has been hailed as a classic for its nuanced exploration of the relationships among the rise of urban civilization, the decline of hierarchical, institutional religion, and the place of the secular within society. Now, half a century later, this international best seller remains as relevant as when it first appeared. The book's arguments--that secularity has a positive effect on institutions, that the city can be a space where people of all faiths fulfill their potential, and that God is present in both the secular and formal religious realms--still resonate with readers of all backgrounds. For this brand-new edition, Harvey Cox provides a substantial and updated introduction. He reflects on the book's initial stunning success in an age of political and religious upheaval and makes the case for its enduring relevance at a time when the debates that The Secular City helped ignite have caught fire once again. Harvey Cox. TwentyFiveYears Later.

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