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Saving God: Religion after Idolatry Paperback – July 31, 2011
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Winner of the 2010 Award for Excellence in Religion: Constructive-Reflective Studies, American Academy of Religion
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2010
"The non-fiction book I most enjoyed this year might be a stocking-stuffer for both atheists and believers (it is slightly more likely to appeal to the former, but would certainly intrigue believers willing to think about their belief). It is Saving God: Religion After Idolatry (Princeton University Press), by the Princeton philosopher Mark Johnston. This book demolishes, with far greater precision and elegance than anything by Richard Dawkins."--James Wood, New Yorker
"Outstanding."--Alan Wolfe, National Interest
"This accessible, sophisticated, and thoughtful work will be an important addition to collections of both philosophy and theology."--Choice
"[A]n astonishing book. . . . [A] daring blend of human depth and philosophical originality."--Tony Coady, Australian Book Review
"Saving God is a rich and provocative book. . . . I found Saving God to be original, complex and insightful. However one reacts to Johnston's naturalistic reinterpretation of Christianity and the other monotheisms, one may still applaud his rejection of idolatrous uses of religion to serve human ends."--Lynne Rudder Baker, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"This witty and philosophically subtle book is . . . very Maimonidean in its thoroughgoing rejection of superstition and idolatry as an offense to true religion."--Menachem Kellner, Jewish Review of Books
"Surviving Death and Saving God both provided me with intellectual pleasure of a high order, even though I found many of the author's conclusions false and some morally repugnant. Johnston is the kind of atheist it's good for Christians to read, because he is intelligent, intellectually energetic, and serious about what he engages, and because he shows very clearly just where fastidiousness leads."--Paul J. Griffiths, Commonweal
"Saving God: Religion after Idolatry is a brilliant book: erudite, intriguing and inventive. Anyone interested in the concept of God and the relationship between religion and naturalism will want to read it."--Allen Stairs, Philosophy in Review
"[Surviving Death and Saving God] constitute a remarkably thorough and convincing treatment of two extremely important religious issues, those of the perennial allurements of idolatry and the deeply menacing fact of death, to say nothing of the books' endorsement and defense of an arduous but richly inspiring ideal of the religious life. The books are a welcome corrective for some of the most seductive and prevalent distortions of religious thought and practice. I heartily recommend them to the reader who relishes a bountifully laid, religiously nourishing, and deeply satisfying philosophical feast."--Donald A. Crosby, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion
From the Back Cover
"This book is a brilliantly conceived contribution to natural theology. Taken together with Johnston's forthcoming Surviving Death, it constitutes the most interesting and provocative elaboration of religious naturalism since Santayana."--Jeffrey Stout, author of Democracy and Tradition and Ethics after Babel
"This is a remarkable, fascinating, and important book, one that exhibits rich philosophical erudition--which it wears lightly--and startling philosophical insight. It is, at its core, a work of natural theology, a distinctly philosophical endeavor, but the book neatly sidesteps all the dead ends that such a project has created for itself in the last couple of centuries."--James C. Edwards, author of The Plain Sense of Things: The Fate of Religion in an Age of Normal Nihilism
"This is one of those rare works in philosophical theology that presents a complex, novel view in a manner accessible to the general reader. This is an exciting book."--Andrew Chignell, Cornell University
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Top Customer Reviews
There are probably many things to find disagreeable with his thesis, but I think it's something worth looking into, especially for 'Richard-Dawkins-rules!' kinds of atheists. The sequel, Surviving Death, is probably worth a try after reading this too.
Many without philosophical training may find sections of the book tough going, even though the book does not aspire to full philosophical rigor and Johnston tries to avoid jargon. However, for those with some background I would hold this up as a paragon of style. Even if you don't agree with the overall conclusions of the book, there are valuable insights to be gained in every chapter. I myself found much of it quite compelling and plan to re-read many chapters in it.
Johnston critique's the "idolatrous" or supernatural view of God in favor of the panentheistic notion of God as "Being-Itself" or "Existence" from which all existences flow from to manifest the ultimate existence. God, in the Tillichian sense, is the Ground of Being for Johnston. Such a God is not only a source of existence, but also a source of transformation for the believers who desire to transform their lives rather than fulfilling their hedonistic pleasures. Johnston's view of God was in part influenced by Aquinas, whom most scholars of medieval philosophy would not regard as Panentheistic (John Dun Scottus, however, could be panentheistic).
While Johnston rightly criticizes the "spiritual materialism" in conjunction with the anthropomorphic view of God that many believers (though not all) cherish, Johnston seems to assume that the problem would vanish if believers were to believe in the panentheistic view of God. Why is this so?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
REALLY CAN NOT RATE MYSELF AS I DID NOT READ THIS ONE. I GAVE IT TO MY SON AT HIS REQUEST FOR A PAPER HE WAS DOING IN COLLEGE. Read morePublished 22 months ago by DELILAH
Here's the recipe: after any atheistic critique seriously damages some image of God, theists tactically re-image God and claim that atheists were all along sophomoric and naive in... Read morePublished 23 months ago by J. H. McKenna