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Convictions: Defusing Religious Relativism Paperback – December 24, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub; Revised edition (December 24, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592441173
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592441174
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,136,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Here is a brief overview for anyone interested in what the book contains:

James Wm. McClendon, Jr. and James M. Smith provide insights and guidelines for how convictions can be justified or rejected. In their understanding, a conviction is a belief that cannot be relinquished without significantly changing the person or community who holds the belief (5). Their goal in addressing the subject is to discuss the discordant elements that fragment societies (xi), reveal how what one says and what one does are tightly connected (81), and show what type of speech-acts religious speakers perform (195). As Smith is a secular atheist and McClendon a practicing Christian, they are in a unique position to do so. They explore how the common use of language expresses convictions and provides clues to understanding religion and religious conflicts (19), thus illustrating that linguistic and cultural institutions can never be neatly separated (103). Their argument--that analyzing the speech-acts of a community is tantamount to understanding how religious convictions are justifiably rational (108, 194)--is meticulously constructed. The book is divided into two major sections: Chapters 2-4 establish the conditions by which speech-acts and convictional beliefs are justified, while Chapters 5-7 address questions involving inter-convictional rivalry (42). If we are our convictions, as McClendon and Smith argue, and exist in a pluralist world, then we are responsible for engaging with the ongoing process of justification in order that we might make discordant elements harmonious (xi, 174).

Convictions explores the limits of theology, not theology itself.
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Convictions: Defusing Religious Relativism
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