God in the Secular City



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Paul Harvey

Over at Immanent Frame, Nathan Schneider has a fascinating interview with the recently retired Harvey Cox, late of Harvard Divinity School. Recommended reading. Here's a little snippet, about his 1965 book The Secular City, whose title in many ways contradicts its contents. I had noted that a long time ago, but this interview partially explains that:

I was never part of the death of God movement. In fact, I tangled with those guys quite a bit. Bill Hamilton and Tom Altizer were friends of mine, but we clearly disagreed with each other. The original title of The Secular City, actually, was “God in the Secular City.” Nobody knows that because the publisher said to me, “No, let’s just call it ‘The Secular City,’” which is what we did. Some people have misread that. They look at the title and they think they know what the book is about. But I was arguing, from a biblical, theological perspective, that God is present in a range of institutions—in family, culture, and politics, as well as in nature—and not just in the religious sector. The relative decline of the institutional power of religion that we were seeing fifty years ago didn’t have to be a cause for panic, because God is present in the secular as well. That isn’t an idea that started with me. It is embedded in the Bible’s God of history, a God to be discerned and responded to in the world.

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