In The Future of Faith, Harvey Cox argues that there is an essential change taking place in what it means to be "religious" today. Religious people are more interested in ethical guidelines and spiritual disciplines than in doctrines. The result is a universal trend away from hierarchical, regional, patriarchal, and institutional religion. As these changes gain momentum, they evoke an almost point-for-point fundamentalist reaction. Fundamentalism, Cox maintains, is on graphic display around the globe because it is dying.
Cox explains this recent move away from dogmatic religion against the backdrop of three distinct periods of church history:
- The Age of Faith: the first three centuries of Christianity, when the early church was more concerned with following Jesus's teachings than enforcing what to believe about Jesus
- The Age of Belief: marking a significant shift between the fourth and twentieth centuries when the church focused on orthodoxy and "correct doctrine"
- The Age of the Spirit: a trend that began fifty years ago and is increasingly directing the church of tomorrow whereby Christians are ignoring dogma and breaking down barriers between different religions—spirituality is replacing formal religion
The Future of Faith is a major statement and an insightful look at a movement that is surfacing within Christianity and other religious traditions by one of the most revered theologians today.
If you would like to consider The Future of Faith for one of your courses, please order an examination copy. If you've already decided to assign the book as required reading, please request a desk copy.
You and your students can meet Harvey Cox in this video.