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The Authenticity of Faith: The Varieties and Illusions of Religious Experience Paperback – January 10, 2012

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The Authenticity of Faith: The Varieties and Illusions of Religious Experience + The Slavery of Death + Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Abilene Christian University Press (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891123504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891123507
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


''Richard Beck has my vote as the liveliest voice in the contemporary integration of psychology and theology.'' --Steven J. Sandage, Professor of Marriage and Family Studies, Bethel University; author of Faces of Forgiveness and Transforming Spirituality

''Richard Beck artfully blends psychological theory, empirical research, and theology to tackle a challenging question: Are religious beliefs motivated by mere wishful thinking? This well-crafted, thoughtful, and engaging text is guaranteed to provide readers with plenty of food for thought.'' --Julie J. Exline, Associate Professor of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University

''Many scholars have studied the relationship of psychology and Christianity in recent decades, but only a few offer the fresh creativity that Dr. Richard Beck brings to the task. The Authenticity of Faith will make us think, and then it will make us think again, and ultimately it will foster a living faith characterized by depth, relevance, and wisdom.'' --Mark R. McMinn, PhD, Professor of Psychology, George Fox University; author of Sin and Grace in Christian Counseling

About the Author

Richard Beck is Professor of Psychology at Abilene Christian University and the author of Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality. As an experimental psychologist, Dr. Beck has published extensively in the empirical literature examining the intersection of Christianity and psychology. He also writes regularly about the interface of theology and psychology at his popular and award-winning blog Experimental Theology. He and his wife Jana have two sons, Brenden and Aidan. The Beck family attends the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, where Richard is a co-teacher of the Sojourners adult Bible class.

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Steven V. Rouse on January 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
A popular strategy among contemporary critics of religion is to explain religiosity as an evolutionary adaptation -- a behavior pattern that exists simply because it helped our early human ancestors thrive. An effective response to this type of argument requires the ability to integrate social scientific research, philosophical viewpoints, and theological beliefs. Using social scientific research, Beck identifies the flaws in Freud's dismissal of religion as a neurotic defense against mortal dread. Instead, Beck draws on the writings of William James to show the complexity of religious belief, which emphasizes the uniqueness of the individual believer. Written in a way that is accessible to readers who aren't trained in social scientific research, but rigorous in meeting the standards of the social sciences, The Authenticity of Faith is a masterful example of the "new apologetics".
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Witham on February 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
Freud's critique of religion is pretty well known. James' more open-minded approach and attitude toward religion in "The Varieties" is also pretty well known. So a book that counterposes those approaches should have something interesting to say, right? Think way bigger, for two primary reasons. First, The Authenticity of Faith rises above merely polemical points of view by applying science to what has been, till recently, an ideological and religious dispute. Dr. Beck, by the way, is an experimental psychologist whose groundbreaking research addresses the question he raises. Second, Beck clearly informs his analysis with wisdom taken from the work of Ernst Becker: "...the great tragedy of human existence [is that the]...very things that give our lives meaning--our worldviews--are the very sources of human evil." (181) If you are not familiar with the work of Ernst Becker, as I was not, the importance of his work to any discussion involving differing points of view cannot be overstated. This is of special significance for discussions of religious points of view. So, if you are unaware of the groundbreaking work of Ernst Becker and experimental psychologists following him, your "worldview' will be transformed by this book--and very much for the better. I note this without qualifying whether you will have begun from a Christian point of view, an atheistic one, or any point between. Simply put, Dr. Beck has risen above the old polemic, and provided a new and much improved model for future discussion. That is a remarkable achievement.
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