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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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Introduction

Extract

This book is about the importance of understanding the world-wide phe- nomenon of religion and about the positive role Christianity can play in making the most of modern personal and social life. Religions are the oldest, most enduring and sophisticated ways in which human beings have understood the mystery and purpose of their existence. They are remarkably successful at this as their sheer endurance testifies. They deal with life itself, ethics, aesthetics, happiness, sadness, suf fering, mystery and death. This is a list of some of the factors which are protean to human experience. How do we make the most of life and live responsibly? This is the question all responsible people must ask themselves. The religions perhaps more than any other source of wisdom or insight enable us to answer it. They sustain life and make it bearable, often when all else has failed. They are ‘an upholding presence’.1 Religion achieves all this in the lives of indi- viduals and societies alike. Its practice is, in fact, the most common way in which societies have maintained their coherence and identity. For all these reasons, religions should not be dismissed lightly. They are here to stay. It is our loss if we ignore them. It can even be to our peril if we fail to understand what a power they have in human af fairs. All this has never been as important to remember as it is in our own time. This book recognises that religion is once again and...

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