Questions of Faith: A Skeptical Affirmation of Christianity


Leading religious and cultural commentator, Peter Berger, explores how and what we can believe in modern times.

  • Deals clearly with questions such as ‘Does God exist? What was so special about Jesus? ...
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Leading religious and cultural commentator, Peter Berger, explores how and what we can believe in modern times.

  • Deals clearly with questions such as ‘Does God exist? What was so special about Jesus? How can one be Christian in a pluralistic society?
  • Structured around key phrases from the Apostles’ Creed.
  • Draws on the Christian theological tradition and the work of other relevant thinkers, such as Freud and Simone Weil.
  • The author takes the position of an open-minded sceptic, exploring his own beliefs.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Peter Berger, well-known sociologist and lay theologian, is director of the Institute on Religion and World Affairs at Boston University. His recent publications include Many Globalizations: Cultural Diversity in the Modern World (2002), The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (1999), The Limits of Social Cohesion (1999), and Redeeming Laughter: The Comic Dimension of the Human Experience (1997).

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Table of Contents

1 I believe... 1
2 God 14
3 ...the Father Almighty 31
4 ...Creator of heaven and earth 43
5 I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord 53
6 He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary 69
Excursus: On Prayer in Christ's Name 81
7 He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried 85
Excursus: On the Empty Tomb and Other Miracles 97
8 He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated on the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead 103
9 I believe in the Holy Spirit 115
10 ...the holy catholic church, the communion of saints 130
11 ...the forgiveness of sins 144
Excursus: On Christian Morality 156
12 ...the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting 163
Bibliography 177
Index 180
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2003

    God Beats Up Those Who Ask Useless Questions

    Questions of Faith is a non-conventional commentary of the ancient Christian Apostle¿s creed. From the table of contents and the chapter subheadings the book appears like another dull commentary not meant to disturb the Christian theologian or the average believer from their faith. Near the end of Questions of Faith, Berger relates the story of Martin Luther¿s reply to a young man who asked him how God occupied himself in eternity. Luther replied, ¿God sits under a tree and cuts branches and rods, to beat up people who ask useless questions.¿ Scattered throughout the book Questions of Faith are what Berger finds to be humanly unacceptable notions about the Christian religion that he believes need to be pummeled (i.e., ¿beat up¿) mainly because of their unthinking acceptance of suffering, death, and evil. Berger calls his book an exercise of free enterprise in ¿lay theology¿ that is written for similarly ¿unaccredited¿ people. By questioning the theology produced by professional theologians Berger asks probing questions about religion without being bound by tradition, church, scripture, or even personal experience. This is a well-written work that, nonetheless in parts, is not for the unserious reader. A warning must be issued that there are some glaring typographical errors in the book. One may need to look up words not used in ordinary conversation. However, at points Berger flashes a riveting summary of a complex theological issue with an illuminating one-sentence proposition or even a meaningful joke. Questions of Faith won¿t likely be attractive to what Berger calls ¿Golden Rule¿ Christians who embrace the images of ¿gentle Jesus,¿ the exemplar and teacher contained in so much Protestant Christian literature. Nor will it appeal to those ¿New Age¿ religious seekers of what Berger calls ¿The Mythic Matrix,¿ defined as a childlike belief in the one-ness of God, nature, and man. Neither would it resonate with those academics and so-called liberals who reduce religion to mere ethics or diversity, to some inner psychoanalytic conversation, or some Marxist egalitarian view of heaven on earth. Berger¿s theological method is to weave into his commentary a number of what might be called null hypotheses that he rejects because he finds them inhuman. Below I have excerpted some of the taken-for-granted theological notions that Berger rejects. I will leave it to the reader to find out why Berger rejects these propositions. 1. Religion is supposed to be necessary as the basis for morality. 2. Religion demands submission to God¿s will, even in the face of the innocent suffering of children. 3. Religion may seek to console us all by saying that eventually we will be absorbed into some ocean of cosmic divinity (i.e., the mythic matrix). 4. Religion offers certainty in scriptures, spiritual experiences, and in institutions from the chaos of life. 5. Religion provides powerful symbols for the exigencies of human existence. 6. High religion says man is saved, not by works, but by God¿s grace and forgiveness. 7. Both religious and atheistic eschatologies (i.e., world views) often claim to know the course of history. 8. Religionists, particularly of the orthodox and neo-orthodox schools of religion, often claim that God has spoken to them directly -- or through scriptures God has spoken to them directly. 9. Religion must say no to every freedom-denying scientism or any Buddhist understanding that all reality is non-self (an-atta), and which results in a denial of the existence of the autonomous and responsible self. 10. The collection of Jesus¿ sayings constituting what we know as the Sermon on the Mount forms the moral and ethical basis for the organization of society. 11. The criteria distinguishing true and untrue religion asserted mainly by academics and liberal North American Christians is whether a religious tradition induces its adherents to cultivate selfishness and altruism. 12. Petiti

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