Originally published in 1984, The Need for Certainty explores the different ways in which people can be religious within the conventional traditions of the main Christian denominations.
Based on in-depth analysis of letters sent to John Robinson, then Bishop of Woolwich, after the publication of his book Honest to God, The Need for Certainty describes five contrasting ways of being religious and explores how, despite being mutually incompatible, they are able to coexist in the churches. In doing so, it argues that a proper grasp of this wide variation in styles of religiousness is a prerequisite for quantitative surveys of religion. Each contrasting religious style is explored in turn and illustrated with quotations from the original letters. The intense desire for religious certainty is extensively explored and presented as a debased, but common, form of religious aspiration that often leads to the degeneration of faith.
The Need for Certainty is ideal for those with an interest in Christianity, the sociology of religion, and theology.
Table of Contents
Preface; 1: Varieties of Religion; 2: Exemplarism; 3: Conversionism; 4: Theism; 5: Gnosticism; 6: Traditionalism; 7: Implications and Conclusions; Notes; Appendix; Index