In the year 2000--and beyond--what will the church be like? What challenges will it face? Will the church be able to provide a strong sense of community? Will it be an ethical force in the lives of Americans? And what role will religion play in politics and in the marketplace?In Christianity in the 21st Century Robert Wuthnow reflects on these provocative questions as he seeks to identify changes that are taking place now in American society that churches must address if they are to remain vital in the future. He foresees five critical areas--institutional, ethical, doctrinal, political, and cultural--in which major challenges will arise, then meets the thorny issues head-on. How will churches' resource bases, their very identity, and their capacity to carry on their spiritual traditions be altered? till they continue to function as sources of caring in a needy world? What impact will the resurgence of fundamentalism have, and how will moderate and liberal congregations react? How will the political activities of churches influence their capacity to be heard in the public arena, and what will the impact be of pluralism and the prevailing materialism of our society?Drawing on a wide range of first-hand observations and research, Wuthnow demontrates that in each of these five areas people of faith have strong reasons to enter the next century with confidence in their religious institutions. But he also highlights worrisome signs, and points to specific areas that need to be addressed to ensure the continuing vitality for Christianity in America--not least among these are the rampant individualism that erodes spiritual communities and the religious infighting that diminishes the Christian sense of unity.The onset of a new millennium affords a historic opportunity to take stock of the present situation and to plan for the future--in the years ahead, much reflection is likely to occur about all our major institutions. Christianity in the 21st Century aims to contribute to those reflections by offering a sobering, realistic, and ultimately hopeful assessment of where the church is now, and where the church is headed.
Oxford University Press; April 1995
- ISBN: 9780198025641
- Read online, or download in secure PDF format
- Title: Christianity in the Twenty-first Century
- Author: Robert Wuthnow
Imprint: Oxford University Press
In The Press
"There is much to be learned here about the manner in which culture has both created and been influenced by the organizational forms of the Christian faith."--Journal of Church and State
"This is the work of a man who cares about the future of individuals, community life, and the church....He has a broad knowledge of religious studies as well as a rich trove of personal anecdotes from the lives of church members and leaders"--Commonweal
"His remarks...are insightful....I commend Wuthnow for his felicity of style, his ability to tell a story, and his skill at discovering in narratives hints of larger patterns of social and cultural significance"--Christian Century
"Robert Wuthnow, one of the best sociologists of religion in America, has written a very sensitive and perceptive book about the present condition of American religion viewed through the prism of possible future developments and challenges. The book is neither a lifeless analysis of data nor a widely speculative polemic on religion to date. Rather it is a superb exercise in sociological analysis of possibilities and prospect for religion in America. It should be essential reading both for sociologists and for those concerned about the present and the future of the Church."--Andrew M. Greeley, Professor of Social Science, The University of Chicago
"Discursive and deeply thoughtful....Wuthnow combines personal stories with references to scholarly works and to current events, enhancing the relevance of each aspect of his study as he builds to his cautiously optimistic conclusions."--Publishers Weekly
About The Author
Robert Wuthnow is Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor of Social Sciences and Director of the Center for the Study of American Religion at Princeton University. He is the author of ten books, including Rediscovering the Sacred, Acts of Compassion, and The Restructuring of American Religion.