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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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Chapter Five With Modern Integrity In the previous two chapters we have discussed some of the most promi- nent contemporary problems with religion in general and Christianity in particular. In doing so we have seen partly why, if it is to continue to play the central role in human understanding that it has played for centuries, it needs reconstruction. This is mainly for two reasons. First, it is because it can no longer be used to justify group self interest in any way. This includes its being appropriated in the name of violence. Second, because it can no longer cling to long outmoded world-views. By this latter we mean views which pre-date Post-enlightenment modernity as we have defined it. Ones, that is, which now even embrace downright superstition and incredulity. In other words, as we now turn our attention to understanding reasons why, in spite of all this, Christianity need still not be beyond belief we will see why, alongside other religions in their dif ferent ways, it is still a powerful source of wisdom in the modern world. We have referred often in passing to the need to understand religion, so to speak, ‘from below’. The simple reason for this is because that is the way we have to understand everything else. We have to begin from where we are. There is simply nowhere else to begin from. Most people instinctively know this. This is, of course, why they are also equally no longer religious. They might well want...

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