The Theological Foundations and Requirements of Secularization in Harvey Cox’s View

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD student, Christian Theology, University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, Iran

2 Assistant professor, Abrahamic Religions, University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, Iran

3 Associate professor, Abrahamic Religions, University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, Iran

4 Assistant professor, Department of Theology and Philosophy of Religion, Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute, Qom, Iran.



It took centuries for the Christian Church to acquiesce to functional reduction and distinction, relinquishing many of the responsibilities it traditionally held to civil and social institutions. This phenomenon is often referred to as secularization in the literature on religious studies. Initially criticized by Christian theologians as a challenge, it did not take long for many theologians to present evidence from within Christianity and provide justifications for it. Some Christian theologians, especially Protestant theologians, offered views in response to this significant challenge that aligned more closely with the views of scholars in the humanities and the findings of empirical sciences. Harvey Cox is among the theologians who approached the issue with such a perspective in the second half of the twentieth century. In his major work, The Secular City, he examines the process of secularization from three perspectives: the Bible, Church, and God. To substantiate his claims, Cox occasionally harks back to the era of the Christian Fathers and sometimes cites the perspectives of contemporary theologians. He endeavors to demonstrate that secularization is not only compatible with the Bible but that its roots can indeed be traced therein. In fact, Cox aims to bolster Christianity and foster understanding between modernity and secularization by proposing a new form of theology, which could be characterized as a secular theology.


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