This book asks the question “what is religion?” from a theological perspective. In an age in which religion has reasserted itself on national and international stages, Theology against Religion argues that we should take seriously the critique of religion, and engage with that critique theologically. The book argues that theologizing the critique of religion was central to the theological purposes of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and that Barth and Bonhoeffer should be seen as traveling along the same trajectory in terms of their theological approaches to religion. It is this trajectory that Greggs seeks to explore in thinking with and beyond Bonhoeffer, and by identifying a series of themes around which construction engagements can take place. The result is an exciting series of discussions which take seriously the interplay of the religious, the secular, pluralism, and the concept of God, with chapters on salvation, the church, the public square, and other faiths.
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“A version of universalism which presents itself as a principle runs the danger not only of an overwhelming christomonism, but also of obliterating human particularity, the place for faith and the importance of ethical decision.” (Page 111)
“basis for a genuine engagement with a pluralist society needs to be found on the basis of individual particularism” (Page 157)
“a penultimate view within our own community of the ultimacy of the other before God” (Page 189)
“theological pluralism must necessarily be rejected” (Page 190)
Focusing on Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Tom Greggs provides both constructive and formative insights into the manifold dimensions of theological critique of religion, particularly in terms of implications for thinking about religion in relation to other faith traditions practiced by living communities of people.
—Ralf K. Wüstenberg, chair for systematic and historic theology, Flensburg University, Germany
This is a profound, daring, and practical book. It is more than a powerful recovery of two of the great Christian theologians, Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in their prophetic relevance today. Professor Greggs also moves beyond them in his constructive response to our complexly multifaith and secular world. He offers a burning vision of Christianity for the twenty-first century: inspired by the Holy Spirit, following Jesus Christ along new ways, biblical, thoughtful, building up a ‘church for others,’ political, and involved in ‘multiple intensities’ springing from love of God and neighbor. The two chapters on how Christians can understand and practice inter-faith engagement are a superb culmination.
—David F. Ford, regius professor of divinity, University of Cambridge