Secularity in Theological Perspective

Many of your readings have focused on the Christian tradition in itself. However, Christian faith is always in context. Newbigin's The Gospel in a Pluralist Society has focused on the Christian faith against the backdrop of modern secularity. Barron, Wright, Barth, Jenson, and Volf have focused in their own ways on the distinctiveness of apostolic Christianity over against both secularity and the cultural Christianity that has made its peace with secularity. You have also read Shermer or Wilson, who describe the Christian faith (actually 'religion' in general rather than the actual apostolic faith) as it appears from that secular perspective, whose many forms dominate western intellectual circles.

You are very likely to take part in this conversation for the rest of your life, for this is our missionary context.

Imagine a person who has read either Shermer or Wilson and finds his account of religion compelling — not just details, but his whole thesis. This could be an imaginary person, or a real person in your life who is likely to respond that "God" is merely an idea that has some natural explanation other than God's actual reality. Think of the aspect or aspects of the argument that the person would find the most compelling.

Write a response to that person. How you respond will reflect your own appraisal of both the details of Shermer's or Wilson's argument and his overall thesis. (Your 'response' might involve concessions where you think the author is right, objections or corrections, or some radical alternative that addresses the merits of Shermer's or Wilson's argument in the way your conversation partner has absorbed it.)

I think it will help you to take into account not only Shermer or Wilson but also Newbigin and other relevant readings. You can of course also take positions unrepresented in our readings.

The usual rules apply.

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