The Future of Faith

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Overview

In The Future of Faith, legendary Harvard religion scholar Harvey Cox offers up a new interpretation of the history and future of religion. The author of When Jesus Came to Harvard and The Secular City, Cox explains why Christian beliefs and dogma are giving way to new grassroots movements rooted in social justice and spiritual experience.

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Overview

In The Future of Faith, legendary Harvard religion scholar Harvey Cox offers up a new interpretation of the history and future of religion. The author of When Jesus Came to Harvard and The Secular City, Cox explains why Christian beliefs and dogma are giving way to new grassroots movements rooted in social justice and spiritual experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Celebrated religious scholar Cox (Divinity/Harvard Univ.; When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices Today, 2004, etc.) argues that we are witnessing the dawn of a third epoch in Christian history. First came the Age of Faith, a time of emphasis on the message of Jesus, lasting from his crucifixion to Constantine's decision to make Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. Next came the Age of Belief, a long period marked by theological hegemonies and emphasis on creeds and theological points of view. Only in recent decades has this longstanding era begun to crumble against the insurgent Age of the Spirit, which is in many ways like the original Age of Faith. Cox examines the present death knells of two movements he describes as detrimental to people of faith: hierarchical theology, embodied mainly by the Catholic Church, and fundamentalism. These two movements, argues the author, stymie both faith and the true message of Jesus. Cox describes creed-making as a "toxin"; his disdain for orthodox theology is unmasked. As for the people, Cox attempts to show empathy toward Catholics, fundamentalists and even his own mid-20th-century divinity-school professors. This empathy, however, comes across as patronizing and condescending, opening him up to the "ivory tower" stereotype. Cox's work is intriguing, and there is certainly truth in his observations about global Christianity and the rise of Pentecostalism and liberation theology. The author is also an entertaining writer who has known seemingly every major religious figure in recent history, including three popes and figures ranging from Jerry Falwell to Gustavo Gutierrez. However, his black-and-white characterizations ofwide-ranging movements leave his arguments wide open for attack. A panoramic view through myopic eyes. Boston/Harvard publicity and events
Boston Globe
“With its overarching themes, Cox’s new book can be viewed as the culmination of his life’s scholarship.”
Karen Armstrong
“At this crucial turning point in history, Harvey Cox reminds us of essential religious values and imperatives . . . A timely and prophetic book”
Stephen Prothero
“For the last four decades, Harvey Cox has been the leading trend spotter in American religion.”
Richard Mouw
“The Future of Faith is insightful, provocative, and inspiring—I even found myself uttering a hearty evangelical “Amen” at many points!”
Brian McLaren
“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.”
Deepak Chopra
“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.”
Diana Butler Bass
“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.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061755521
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/8/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 786,028
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet 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 century’s most influentialbooks of Protestant theology.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 An age of the spirit : the sacred in the secular? 1

Ch. 2 Einstein's snuffed-out candles : awe, wonder, and faith 21

Ch. 3 Ships already launched : the voyage from mystery to faith 37

Ch. 4 The Road Runner and the Gospel of Thomas : what happens when it wasn't really that way? 55

Ch. 5 The people of the Way : the devolution from faith to belief 73

Ch. 6 "The bishop is your high priest and mighty king" : the rise of the clerical caste 85

Ch. 7 Constantine's last supper : the invention of heresy 99

Ch. 8 No lunch with the prefect : how to fix the papacy 113

Ch. 9 Living in haunted houses : beyond the interfaith dialogue 127

Ch. 10 Get them into the lifeboat : the pathos of fundamentalism 141

Ch. 11 Meet Rocky, Maggie, and Barry : which Bible do the Bible believers believe? 155

Ch. 12 Sant'Egidio and St. Praxedis : where the past meets the future 171

Ch. 13 Blood on the altar of divine providence : liberation theology and the rebirth of faith 187

Ch. 14 The last vomit of Satan and the persistent list makers : Pentecostals and the age of the spirit 199

Ch. 15 The future of faith 213

Acknowledgments 225

Notes 227

For further reading 233

Index 235

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 18 of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 26, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Changes everything

    This book is for anyone dissatisfied with the dogma that has become inherent in so many religious groups and sects. By analyzing Christianity's past and present, Cox masterfully shows us the future of faith: a new age he deems the Age of the Spirit; a decline in religious fundamentalism, as such movements fight amongst and undo themselves; a new outlook on the Bible; an important focus on faith rather than dogmatic belief; and ultimately, a new way of religious thinking comprised of a constant questioning, an understanding of history, and a pluralistic lens with which to view the world.

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  • Posted July 14, 2010

    Scholarly Written With Spiritual Sensitivity

    Dr Cox is imminently qualified to take the reader from the beginnings of the history of Christianity up to the present day and he convincingly makes the case for the future of faith which will not and cannot be controlled by religious institutions. He clearly indicates that it will never be "creeds" alone which will determine the future forms of Christianity, but rather the "deeds" which Jesus exemplified as the prime elements of the kingdom. I might suggest that there is also another dimension in this equation which I would include along with this illiteration and that is "needs". The needs of the people play an important role in the changing expression of the church and it could easily be placed alongside of "creeds" and "deeds". The needs of the people who do believe, and many of them thirst for the mysteries and power of the kingdom to manifest in their personal lives. Jesus did say that "those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled". There are those who have thirsted not only for righteousness but for spiritual gifts and powers, whose prayers God has heard. Dr Cox does state this fact in other lines of thought when he refers to the "age of the spirit" and the rise of "Pentecostalism". He makes it very clear that "we need not assume that creedal Christianity is the only option" p78. Here is the crux of the matter, there are other options in the experience and expressions of the Chritian faith that have continued to break out of the molds and constraints of both hierarchical and creedal Christianity.

    In chapter three, Dr Cox uses the metaphor, "we find ourselves on a ship that has already been launched" pg 37. We are passengers among many others who are sailing in the midst of spiritual mystery,"but how we live with it differs". He deals with this fact throughout the book and tries to impress upon the reader that Christianity has never been monolithic and never will be. As long as people can think, question, and interpret for themselves truth and meaning, there will be differences in perception and changes in the expression of the gospel of the kingdom.

    Dr Cox indicates that changes in the interpretation and expression of the gospel will contiune to come as Christianity moves forward into the future. He says on pg 196, "Christianity understood as a system of beliefs guarded and transmitted through a privileged religious institution by a clerical class is dying. Instead, today Christianity as a way of life, shared in a vast variety of ways by a diverse global network of fellowships is arising". The book is scholarly written and yet the author expresses a spiritual sensitivity toward the church at large. There are no overtones of harshness in the pages as he presents the things he is seeking to share. There are no attacks, simply an earnest attempt to present the facts as he sees them. After all, he is on board the same ship of Chrisitanity that many others are sailing on. Thurman L Faison, AuthorTo The Spiritually Inclined (Volume 1)

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    Much analysis

    I found the analysis of the future of faith to be detailed. I was a bit frustrated about the author's views of traditional church. I think he short changes the benefits and the contributions of the traditional church.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    The Future of Faith is thought provoking and spiritually invigorating.

    I heard Harvey Cox speak of this book on Wisconsin Public Radio. I borrowed it from the library and enjoyed it so much I had to purchase a few copies of it. I intend to have my children who are young adults read The Future of Faith to promote a sense of the divine and that which connects us together.

    This book is for anyone who questions what they are told to believe. It provides a basis which ties all people of faith (and those seeking it) together.

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