Slaves To Faith

 

Reviews:

“Mercer (religion and biblical studies, East Carolina U.) is also a clinical psychologist, and draws on both fields to offer advice to colleagues on how to understand and deal with the particular ways of thinking that fundamentalist Christians exhibit. He covers the birth of fundamentalism, core fundamentalist beliefs, a psychological profile, and strategies

for dialogue. Particular topics include the fundamentalist view of the Bible and problems with it, the Rapture, left-behind theology, the threat from rapid cultural change, and talking theology.”

—Reference & Research Book News August 2009

 

Description: Based upon the author’s twenty years of classroom and clinical study, Slaves of Faith explores and explains the emotionally laden dynamic at work in the fundamentalist mind. As Dr. Mercer posits, the fundamentalist is fundamentally driven by anxiety layered over a fragile sense of self-identity constructed upon a system of beliefs that is both logically inconsistent and highly suspect in light of modern science. As a result, the fundamentalist completely rejects modernity while battling mightily in the arena of national politics and culture to bring about a world that aligns more closely with the fundamentalist worldview.

Focusing on Christian fundamentalists, the author puts Christian fundamentalism in its historical and theological contexts. At the same time, Mercer calls upon cognitive theory to explain that the fundamentalist’s life story is not particular to Christianity or any other religious belief system but that fundamentalist Catholics, Muslims, Jews, and those of all other faiths share a common psychological profile. Indeed, Mercer insists that if the Christian terminology were eliminated from contemporary fundamentalist Christian rhetoric, what would remain would be a framework that fundamentalists from other religions would find quite familiar and even comforting. In other words, the structure of the fundamentalist worldview, and the psychology beneath it, is pretty much the same across religions. It is a controversial thing to say about Christian fundamentalism, a thesis that has already proved contentious in the author’s public appearances, and one that is sure to generate considerable attention and passionate debate as the U.S. populace continues to divide into opposing camps.

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments

Foreword

Preface: My Longest Email

Introduction

One: Who Are the Christians?

Two: The Fighting Fundamentalists

Three: Fundamentalists Retreat and Advance

Part Two: Core Fundamentalist Beliefs

Four: Fundamentalists and the Bible

Five: Problems with Fundamentalisms View of the Bible

Six: The Jesus Question

Seven: The Rapture

Eight: Left Behind Theology

Nine: Two Unofficial Fundamentalist Doctrines

Part Three: A Psychological Profile

Ten: The Psychological Model

Eleven: Profile of the Typical Fundamentalist

Twelve: The Threat from Rapid Cultural Change

Part Four: Strategies for Dialogue

Thirteen: Talking Theology

Fourteen: Talking About the Bible

Concluding Reflections

Appendix 1: Letters from Former Fundamentalist Students

Appendix 2: An Elementary Guide to Exegeting the Bible

Bibliography

About the Author

Notes

Review & Commentary

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