Western Religion and the Self-Canceling of Modernity

in Journal of Religion in Europe
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Abstract

The extreme character of western modernity is the result of the interaction of two contradictory processes. On the one hand, the cultivation of interiority, reflexivity, and thus of subjective freedom, which antedates Christianity, and which is also found in other cultures, but which Christianity intensified by equating religion with 'faith.' On the other, the need to assert one's freedom against the attempts on the part of a church, which, while promoting the exploration of the sinful subjectivity of all Christians—understood primarily as believers—sought to control all of reality, external and internal. While the emergence of a reflexive, tolerant self has led many in the West to the abandonment of its traditional institutional religion, that same tolerant reflexivity renders difficult dealing with the demands of groups—Christian and non-Christian—that seek to abolish modernity.

Western Religion and the Self-Canceling of Modernity

in Journal of Religion in Europe

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