Item description for The Cost of Certainty: How Religious Conviction Betrays the Human Psyche by Jeremy Young...
Overview The Cost of Certainty explores a fundamental ambiguity in mainstream Christian teaching: although the church claims that God's love is unconditional, he only accepts those who believe in Jesus Christ and have repented of their sins. This gospel of conditional love breeds anxiety and polarization. Young shows how this demeans the true message of the gospels. He argues for the recovery of a spirituality of uncertainty and unconditional love as a basis for a renewal of contemporary Christian faith and practice.
Publishers Description The Cost of Certainty explores a fundamental ambiguity in mainstream Christian teaching: although the church claims that God s love is unconditional, he only accepts those who believe in Jesus Christ and have repented of their sins. This gospel of conditional love breeds anxiety and polarization. Young shows how this demeans the true message of the gospels. He argues for the recovery of a spirituality of uncertainty and unconditional love as a basis for a renewal of contemporary Christian faith and practice."
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Studio: Cowley Publications
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.6" Width: 5.34" Height: 0.49" Weight: 0.62 lbs.
Release Date Jan 25, 2006
Publisher Cowley Publications
ISBN 1561012327 ISBN13 9781561012329
Availability 2 units. Availability accurate as of Mar 24, 2017 06:27.
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More About Jeremy Young
Jeremy Young has served as a parish priest and theological educator. He now works as a family therapist.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Cost of Certainty?
Faith as tension Mar 30, 2008
The poet John Keats famously suggested that artistic genius is founded on the ability to hold two conflicting ideas simultaneously without striving for one to best the other. Creative insight, in other words, is nurtured by the essential ambiguity of existence. When we struggle to eliminate ambiguity by imposing artificial certainty, we fall into the unimaginative status quo. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but imagination abhors plenitude.
Although he doesn't appeal to Keats, Jeremy Young's reflection on the high cost of certainty in Christian belief reflects a Keatsian spirit. Young, once a priest and now a therapist, worries about the costly pricetag that mainstream Christianity too often carries. Although the Church talks about God's unconditional love, Young believes that in practice the Church holds out "conditional love" to its members: God loves humans only under certain conditions, and those conditions are so strenuous that few of us can live up to them. Consequently, Christians too often practice what William James called a "melancholy" religion characterized by interior feelings of guilt, inferiority, and shame, and exterior hypocrisy. Moreover, continues Young, the Church as an institution waves the banner of conditional love as a justification of exclusivism. So the cost of religious "certainty"--that is, the assurance that my religion is the one and only true religion, and that anyone who fails to conform to its standards is fallen--is the individual's psychological and spiritual well-being, and the institution's integrity. Ironically, what we hope will protect us and make us special only stunts us.
Young sympathizes with the psychological need for individuals to belong to a greater community which provides a source of identity (Chapter 3), but he also recognizes that our mania to belong typically means that we "other" anyone who doesn't belong to the community and excommunicate anyone who falls out of strict conformity. As an antidote to this dualism, Young proposes a new vision of Christian faith and community which is less certain but better able to hold in creative tension ambiguity in faith and diversity in belief. This creative tension is the place where genuine encounters with God occur.
Young's thesis is one that ought to be taken seriously. I think that his case could've been strengthened had he explored a bit more the dynamics of uncertainty--what Dorothy Day frequently called "precarity"--and if he'd made sharper distinctions between the Calvinist-inspired exclusivism that promotes conditional love and efforts to break out from it (the names of Karl Rahner, Henri Nouwen, and Richard Rohr come immediately to mind) by many contemporary theologians. But his larger point, that certainty isn't the catalyst for emotional health or spiritual well-being that many think it is, is well-taken. It would be grand were this book to become required seminary reading. Given the insistence upon certainty in clerical training, however, such a possibility is, alas, unlikely.