Who Is a True Christian?: Contesting Religious Identity in American Culture

Cambridge Univ. Apr. 2024. 404p. ISBN 9781009428996. $39.99. REL
Congdon (theology, Univ. of Dubuque Theological Seminary; Varieties of Christian Universalism) details various theological attempts during the 19th century to the present day to come to terms with the modern definition of what it means to be a Christian. Each of those attempts involved finding a single motif to capture some unchanging essence that would distinguish between “true” and “false” Christianity. Although first taken up by liberals and neo-orthodox thinkers, these discarded tools were employed by evangelicals and fundamentalists to construct a bulwark against modernity. Congdon details not only the collapse of each effort but also the corruption of Christianity by this conservative wing. He suggests resolution via a polydoxy framework in which people can accept and follow any or several religious beliefs and observances without being tied to just one. This, of course, rejects presenting a sole descriptive or prescriptive analysis of what it means to be a Christian.
VERDICT A fascinating theological project about the problem of Christian demarcation.
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