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Religion Revealed

Christianity and Modernity

John R. Elford

This book is written for a generation curious about religion, largely ignorant of what it actually is and confused by signals about it in the modern world. The argument is, therefore, self-explanatory throughout. The first half explains the historic and worldwide phenomenon of religion in its major manifestations. It also discusses problems with religion. The second part focusses on Christianity, showing how it can be professed with intellectual integrity and to personal and social benefit. Whilst the author is critical of some forms of contemporary Christianity, he draws throughout on the Bible and Christian tradition in its reconstruction. Care is given in defining modernity and explaining how Christianity engages with some of life’s central concerns and responsibilities. In this the book shows how the Christian understanding of how to live responsibly and to the full remains as vibrant and relevant as it has ever been.

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Preface

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Parents are familiar with being held to account by their children. It is the reason for this book. Emily, my daughter to whom it is dedicated, asked me if I said what I really think in my books. When I replied that I most certainly did she remained unconvinced and laid down the following veri- table gauntlet. ‘Write a book about religion, Dad, which says exactly what you think and put a laugh in it. Make it sound like you’. All my following attempts at giving reasons why I need not pick it up failed miserably. So here it is. It is not, I trust, simply a personal indulgence. Emily, a well-educated successful young lawyer, is here understood as being representative of her generation. One, that is, which is unconvinced by the prevailing conventions of religion, largely ignorant of what it actually is and yet sincerely curious about it. Curious enough, that is, to be prepared to make the ef fort to know more. For this reason, the first half of the book provides the main background information about religion which is necessary for making sense of the second half about Christianity. This information is included because it is no longer that readily available to even educated and busy young people. The jokes might be few and feeble, but I have put them in to be strict to my brief.

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