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The Secular City: Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective Paperback – November 1, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Collier Books; 25 Anv edition (November 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0020311559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020311553
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,339,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harvey G Cox, Jr is Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University. His many influential books include The Secular City (1965), which became an international bestseller, and When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Decisions Today (2004). Daisaku Ikeda is President of Soka Gakkai International and the author of over 80 books on Buddhist themes.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cecilio Morales on November 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
What Cox does best in this book is to review the decline of historical American rural Protestantism in the face of the growth of major metropolitan areas. He manages to explain our age's sense of loss of the familiar and intimate in the traditional human contexts. He attempts, not always successfully, and never intending a summation, to cast a positive light on the inescapable modern reality of urban life.

His critique of the Church, in the broader sense of the word, is one concerning adaptation to the times. It was more timely, or at least urgent, when it first came out (which is when I first read it) than today. It will sound hackneyed to someone who sees everything in the light of theopolitics since 1981; but Cox wrote this long before the words "moral majority" were used to misname a movement.
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Format: Paperback
Harvey Cox (born 1929) is an ordained American Baptist minister who also taught theology at Harvard Divinity School. He first came to fame as author of this 1965 theological "bestseller," which (amazingly for a book of serious theology) sold more than one million copies.

Cox says that history reveals a progressive "process of secularization," and he defines secularization as "man turning his attention away from worlds beyond and toward this world and this time." Cox applauds this development, since he views secularization as a "liberating process," and suggests that it "should be welcomed as an occasion requiring maturity in man." For Cox, we are now living in a "technopolis" that has no use either for religion or an afterlife, and therefore the task of the modern theologian is learning to "speak of God in a secular fashion."

He suggests that the biblical roots of secularism are found in the Creation story itself, in which man is made responsible for the care of the world. He also cites approvingly the separation of the "kingly" from the "prophetic" office in Israel, as well as "the New Testament injunctions to respect those in authority so long as they do not make religious claims." He further asserts that the secular city is "the biblical image of the Kingdom of God," and suggests that "Our task should be to nourish the secularization process, to prevent it from hardening into a rigid world view, and to clarify as often as necessary its roots in the Bible."

Interested readers should also read the volume, The secular city debate.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was lent a copy back when I first went to college by a gent who was deciding to eventually become a 'man of the cloth'. It certainly clarified many of the events of that time regarding changes occurring in traditional mainline theologies. Having recently reread the anniversary edition, which has minimal changes, the message is still relevant to today.
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12 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 1997
Format: Paperback
Dr. Cox hits hard at church convention. He does an excellent job of exposing some flaws in the dogma of the church, and offers ways he thinks the flaws can be repaired. Some of his more controversial suggestions conflict with biblical standards, and pose implementation problems. Overall, the work is informative, innovative and inspiring
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28 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Gary Scott on September 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
Basic liberal Christian apology - an attempt to recast Christianity in a way that appeals to educated, liberal urbanites. It is, in his words, "verbal byplay in which . . . [he tries] to convince contemporary nontheists [and non-Christians in general] that the differences among men today over the reality of God are merely verbal" (259). Of course, he uses these words to criticize others' theology, not his own.
In essence, he says to the liberal, educated urbanite, "You're right: mankind has outgrown religion. But only as it has been cast in the past. In reality - i.e., in the way I cast it - that is the heart of true religion (read: Christianity). God is trying to get humans to abandon their unhealthy reliance on him and become 'true' humans." In it, "the Gospel" becomes a euphemism for Christianity
To begin with, Cox recognizes that his audience is probably well educated, and even biblically literate. To that end, he must answer one question that plagues contemporary Christianity: how is it that the God we see in both the Old and New Testaments is so radically and concretely involved in human life compared to what we see today? In the Bible we have God parting the Red Sea and raising Jesus from the dead (which of course means nothing other than God raising himself from the dead, according to traditional theology); destroying complete cities with fire and brimstone from heaven and enabling people to walk on water. And yet he is curiously absent in our present reality. No donkeys are talking to anyone; no whales swallowing stubborn televangelists. There are no pillars of fire, no booming voices. What happened to God? Well, the problem, according to Cox, lies in the question itself. God is hidden, and "He cannot be expected to appear when we designate the place and time" (261). Very clever.
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