Cover image for Doubts and loves : what is left of Christianity
Doubts and loves : what is left of Christianity
Holloway, Richard, Bp., 1933-
Publication Information:
Edinburgh : Canongate, [2001]

Physical Description:
xi, 274 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BT82.3 .H745 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This work argues that it is better to use Christianity as good poetry than as bad science, and although the author sets out to deconstruct its doctrines, my intention is positive; it is to craft from the Christian past a usable ethic for our own time. The book is a rescue attempt, an argued case for salvaging the challenge of Jesus by revealing the essence of his teachings and showing why they remain revolutionary, humane and of massive spiritual importance.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Writing in a venerable Anglican tradition of criticizing the systems of the church for departing from the principles of Christianity, the recently retired bishop of Edinburgh voices a heartfelt response to the tone of the 1998 Lambeth Conference debate on the status of homosexuals in the church, which he experienced as being "like stumbling on a lynching organized by your own brothers." He promises "a radical rethinking of Christianity" intended "to craft from the Christian past a usable ethic for our time" and delivers it in an engaging style that should win a variety of readers. He draws upon an impressive range of contemporary scholarship that should prove particularly useful to Christians in placing the Bible in contemporary contexts and addressing attitudes toward it that contradict pluralism and tolerance. Non-Christian readers may also find much that is useful here, such as the insights Holloway provides into the personal struggle of a progressive leader in the church and into how to read ancient texts, as John of Salisbury said, "to improve our eyesight." --Steven Schroeder

Publisher's Weekly Review

Following in the footsteps of John A.T. Robinson and John Shelby Spong, Holloway, formerly Bishop of Edinburgh, shows why Christianity often seems irrelevant to the contemporary world and what it must do to retain its vitality. Traditional Christian doctrines such as original sin, hell, the resurrection of Christ and the inerrancy of the Bible have no power in the modern world, says Holloway, because they fail to emphasize the central meaning of the Christian faith. These doctrines, preached by an institutional religion that often requires literal adherence to the creed, have made the Christian faith into a theology of death. Instead, he argues, Christianity is really a theology of life that consists of imitating the self-sacrificial and subversive actions of Jesus, particularly his love of the unlovely and unloved and his forgiveness of those condemned by society. Attentive to what he believes are these central elements of authentic Christian faith, Holloway recasts Christian doctrines in their light. Arguing that a literal belief in Christ's resurrection from the dead is not necessary to the Christian faith, he suggests that it is more meaningful to think of resurrection as simply a transformation and to help others bring new life to communities still held in the grip of death. Thus, for example, black South Africans experienced resurrection after apartheid was dismantled. Holloway's book will certainly appeal to followers of Matthew Fox and Spong, but his unoriginal thesis offers no particularly new or illuminating insights that haven't already been revealed more engagingly and fully by these others. (Feb.) Forecast: Given the popularity of books like Spong's Why Christianity Must Change or Die, this U.K. import is likely to draw some attention. Canongate's strategy of bringing Holloway to North America for a five-city book tour will aid book sales. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Here is another book by a prominent churchman who tells us what is wrong with Christianity and how it might be reformed. Retired bishop of Edinburgh (Scottish Episcopal Church), Holloway is an eloquent and poetic writer who is in touch with the human condition. Like John Shelby Spong, retired Bishop of Newark (American Episcopal Church), Holloway stands strongly in favor of equal rights for women in the church and the full acceptance of homosexuals; like Spong, he also agrees that Christianity has to change or it will die. However, most of Holloway's ideas were already common in the 19th-century writings of David F. Strauss (The Life of Jesus) and Nietzsche, as well as in Albert Schweitzer's Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906). In addition, his program for change is a bit vague; a much more articulate program for reform is found in Spong's A New Christianity for a New World (LJ 1/02). What makes Holloway's message different from that of his 19th-century predecessors is that it is being heard: church leaders are finally recognizing the need for reform. His contemporary voice could be a tool for change and is recommended for all libraries as an additional resource. James A. Overbeck, Atlanta-Fulton P.L. Syst., GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.