1st Edition

Christian Language and its Mutations Essays in Sociological Understanding

By David Martin Copyright 2002

    Christian Language and its Mutations explores how Christian language alters in various social, cultural, historical and religious contexts. Having delineated the core language of Christianity, David Martin analyses how it mutates in different historical and social contexts, notably: peace and war; the arts - particularly painting and music; the sacred space (the city) and the sacred text (the liturgy); education; and the global situation of Christianity and contemporary secular society - evangelicalism, rational religion, Pentecostalism and Base Communities. Presenting a unique perspective to show how and why Christianity alters according to context, this book will prove insightful and accessible to students, clergy and general readers alike. David Martin is Honorary Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Lancaster University, and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, UK. He is the author of some two dozen books, including many landmark titles in the sociology of religion.

    Contents: Introduction; Fundamentals; The religious-political tension; The religious-aesthetic tension; Sacred-secular dynamics in the city; Internal adjustments to modernity; Alternative responses to modernity; Index.


    David Martin, Lancaster University and London School of Economics, UK

    'What we have here is not so much discourse as meat and drink - the word made flesh. One could say that here David Martin gives us a brilliant introduction to the phenomenology of the Christian religion. It would be far better to say, "He speaks with authority - not as the scribes".' The Salisbury Review 'This is a stimulating collection that will cheer admirers and send those of us who disagree to hone our axes... the contributions on music(...)are superb.' Church Times 'David Martin's essays subvert various fashionable orthodoxies and reveal the way in which many Christian pronouncements 'are contaminated by a general aura of unreality'. His prose is vigorous and largely jargon free and his arguments, eminently quotable. Anyone who is interested in the future of Christian culture and institutions in the 21st century will find much in these pages to illuminate, intrigue and occasionally irritate.' Richard Chartres, Bishop of London 'Most of us find it necessary to go to different places to find careful scholarship, coherent theology and an attractive account of lived Christian experience. David Martin saves us great trouble and expense by setting all these things in this remarkable book.' Revd John Kennedy, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland '... explores how Christianity in its widest sense mutates in different historical and social contexts. These include peace and war, sacred place (the city), sacred text (the liturgy), education, global Christianity, contemporary secular society, and, of course, the arts. These brilliant essays provide a coherent and comprehensive framework within which our own Art and Christianity Enquiry (my italics) should - ideally - be conducted.' Art & Christianity 'With his erudition, good humor, and elegance of expression, David Martin casts in a fresh light almost every topic on which he touches.' First Things 'This rich and fascinating collection reflects and builds upon many of the areas that have preoccupied [David Martin] for some four decades: boundaries between theology and sociology; ecumenism and its claims; liturgy and its links to identity; war and peace in a divided world; urbanisation and religion; modernity and Pentecostalism... There is much to enjoy in this new collection.' The Expository Times 'David Martin has returned to, expanded upon, and enriched many of the themes which he himself has pioneered; in this work he has added much that is new and fresh. In Christian Language and its Mutations Professor Martin has brought out with great clarity the creative turbulence that exists within Christianity because of what a Muslim would see as its pathological attitude to politics and family... There are many other good things in this book, notably the sections on art and aesthetics and on the spatial layout of sacred areas in the city and on Christian ambivalence towards the appeal of music. The complexities of Christian language are expounded with clarity and its mutations captured and held fast on the page.' Journal of Contemporary Religion 'David Martin is rivaled only by Robert Wuthnow, Peter Berger, and perhaps Robert Bellah in the contemporary enterprise of reflecting on the ecclesiastical implications of the sociology of religion... The excitement in reading David Martin [...] comes [...] from [...] his particular, and often bracing, observations that bring clarity to what was heretofore only dimly seen.' Books & Culture 'This book presents a unique perspective to show how and why Christianity alters according to context. Students, clergy and general readers will find this an accessible and insightful analysis and unique assessment of the contemporary situation.' Theological Book Review '... a compelling, provocative survey of the various ways in which Christian discourse encounters social and historical realities... It is a great book: it is a book that preoccupies the reader and forces one to look afresh at issues and questions. It deserves to be read and studied.' Conversations in Religion and Theology