Saturday, October 19, 2019

What does ‘Honest to God’ tell us about Britain’s “secular revolution”?

From Oxford University Press-

On 17 March 1963, John Robinson, the Anglican bishop of Woolwich, wrote an article for the Observer entitled “Our Image of God Must Go.” He was writing to advertise his new book, Honest to God, which made a deeply controversial argument: that modern Christians would eventually find it necessary to reject classical theism. God Himself, Robinson argued, was causing a radical revolution in human life, in which human nature was being altered, so that “modern men” [sic] were no longer “religious” but “secular”. In the face of this divine process of “secularization”, the Christian churches had no option but to abandon “religion”, and to embrace a radical new “religionless Christianity”, which would question almost all the tenets of conventional theology, and focus instead on building a glorious new secular social order. These ideas were part of the 1960s global explosion in radical Christianity, which deeply shaped the World Council of Churches, the World Student Christian Federation, and Vatican II.

In Britain, the reaction was intense and immediate: the Church Times wrote angry editorials, the Sunday Telegraph’s reviewer regretted that Robinson could not be defrocked, and the archbishop of Canterbury censured him on television. Nonetheless, Honest to God went on to sell over a million copies, not including its translations into seventeen languages. It was, in the undisputed judgement of its publisher, the fastest-selling new work of serious theology of all time.

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