Faith, conversion & apostasy part 2

Following up on my last post, today I received a newsletter from Books & Culture with a review of Timothy Larson’s book Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth-Century England.

Crisis, as the title states, deals with the Christianity and secularism of Victorian England. According to the review, he focuses on seven leaders in the Secular Movement, all who were raised in Christian homes and, abandoned their faith, and eventually reconverted to Christianity. The reviewer, David Hampton, summarizes:

These erstwhile militant secularists came to see that secularism was better at tearing down Christianity than building a replacement, left little solid basis for the construction of a satisfying morality, and was based on an oppressively narrow definition of reason that left little room for intuition and emotion. In addition, they remained haunted by the compelling figure of Jesus of Nazareth, became intrigued afresh by the grandeur of the Scriptures, repudiated naked materialism by flirting with spiritualism, came to see that they could be radical politically without abandoning Christianity, and became intellectually persuaded of the truth of Christianity from their consumption of a wide range of books, sermons, and letters.

Hampton also points out areas where the book is flawed. One such area, which may also be a strength of the book (in certain circles, anyway) is its focus on purely intellectual issues in these men’s conversions and reconversions. Considering that all such books are bound to be somewhat flawed, Crisis does seem a very interesting read, especially if you’re already thinking about the issues of faith & doubt.

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