This book combines insights from sociology of religion and theology to consider the fundamental changes that have taken place in how people think about God in contemporary Western society. It can be said that God has become irrelevant for many people, often as a result of well-grounded ethical critique of churches. Here the authors argue for the necessity of rethinking God-talk in a pluralist and changing context and for thinking critically about hegemonic ways of speaking about God from a moral and experiential perspective, not only from the point of view of abstract theology. Drawing on empirical material from a Norwegian setting, the book advocates a critical-constructive theology with a notion of God that takes human experience and social change seriously. It depicts a God who is an enabler of moral maturity rather than an authoritarian moral instructor, a God who is on the side of the marginalized and poor, and a challenge to unjust hierarchies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Why this book?
1 On God and change
2 Religious trends in Northern Europe – an overview
3 Does society shape God?
4 The changing Christian God
5 The crisis of theology – and why it matters for speaking about God
6 The morally intolerable God – and the alternative
7 The politically dangerous God – a God of love
8 God as she? Why can’t she be?
9 Pluralism challenges notions of God and religious truth
10 When God becomes irrelevant to society’s challenges
11 God as vulnerable love?
Jan-Olav Henriksen is Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion at the Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society (MF) in Oslo, Norway.
Pål Repstad is Professor Emeritus in the Sociology of Religion at the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway.