Gallup, George, Jr. Religion in America, 1990 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Religion Research Center, 1990); Religion in America, 1996 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Religion Research Center, 1996). As recently as 1996 Gallup reported that there were nearly 500,000 churches, synagogues, and other places of worship in the U.S., and approximately 2,000 denominations (cited in T. Reeves, The Empty Church, p. 216, n. 37).
Gallup, George Jr. and Jim Castelli. The People's Religion: American Faith in the 90's (New York: Macmillan, 1989). The conclusions of this study, conducted in 1988, both confirm and call into question current assumptions about the state of religion in America today, e.g.: "Basic religious beliefs, and even religious practice, today differ relatively little from the levels recorded fifty years ago" (p. 4); "the degree of religious orthodoxy found among Americans is simply amazing… such a nation cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as secular in its core beliefs" (p. 90); "College graduates treat religion with more skepticism and intellectualism, but they are far from hostile to religion. Education changes the form and focus of religious practice, but it is not an enemy of faith" (p. 258); cited in Reeves, The Empty Church.
Gans, Herbert. Popular Culture and High Culture (New York: Basic Books, 1974); Middle American Individualism: The Future of Liberal Democracy (New York: The Free Press, 1988). A prof. of sociology at Columbia U. and a former president of the American Sociological Association, Gans disputes the belief that America requires a rediscovery of her religious roots and bonds. In Middle American Individualism he minimizes the depth of religious commitment among most Americans: "While many may be conservative with respect to some specific social or religious values, cultural traditionalists and fundamentalists are few" (p. 5). He questions the Gallup polls which have been reporting about 40% attendance of religious services every week, and estimates that the number may be closer to 30%. He also argues that religious commitment is weakening: "while the number of people who say their belief in a deity, hell, or one or more other symbols of religious faith remains high…they are distancing themselves from the demands of organized religion and to some extent from the institution itself… developing more individualistic conceptions of their faith and of their deity" (p. 17).
Gellner, Ernest. Postmodernism, Reason and Religion (London and New York: Routledge, 1992). Gellner is a professor of social anthropology at U. Cambridge. He is interested in postmodernism "as a living and contemporary specimen of relativism" which is "hostile to the idea of unique, exclusive, objective, external or transcendent truth" (p. 24). He considers postmodern relativism to be one of "three fundamental and irreducible positions" which command allegiance today. The other two visions are those of "religious fundamentalism," which "recognizes the uniqueness of truth" and "avoids the facile self-deception of universal relativism" (p. 95); and his own position of "rationalist fundamentalism," which he describes as "firmly committed to the denial of relativism," and "committed to the view that there is external, objective, culture-transcending knowledge" (p. 75). However, unlike religious fundamentalism, Gellner's rationalist fundamentalism believes that "there are no privileged or a priori substantive truths. (This, at one fell swoop, eliminates the sacred from the world.)… There are no privileged Sources or Affirmations" (p. 80).
Goldberg, Steven. The Inevitability of Patriarchy (New York: William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1973). A prof. of sociology at City College in New York, Goldberg argued in this provocative text both that male leadership has been universal in human societies, and also that it is inevitable for biological reasons. His position is remarkable because of the absolute nature of his claims. It is relevant to the topic of church and culture because of the continuing debate over the role of women in the church, and the pressure upon the church to conform with culture. Goldberg asserts: "No anthropologist contests the fact that patriarchy is universal. Indeed, of all social institutions there is probably none whose universality is so totally agreed upon…There is not, nor has there ever been, any society that even remotely failed to associate authority and leadership in suprafamilial areas with the male" (p. 32); "As was the case with patriarchy, male dominance is universal; no society has ever failed to conform its expectations of men and women, and the social roles relevant to these expectations, to the feelings of men and women that it is the male who 'takes the lead' "(p. 33); "No society has ever failed to differentiate sex roles…" (p. 115).
Grenz, Stanley J. A Primer on Postmodernism (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1996). Dr. Grenz holds a joint professorship in theology and ethics at Carey Theological College and Regent College, in Vancouver, B.C. He defines postmodernism primarily as "a rejection of the modern mind-set…[which] elevated the individual self to the center of the world" (p. 2); it includes "a radical rejection of…"the Enlightenment belief in inevitable progress" (p. 13,20). He explains that: "the postmodern ethos is centerless. No clear shared focus unites the diverse and divergent elements of postmodern society into a single whole. There are no longer any common standards to which people can appeal" (p. 19). Grenz considers Nietzsche (1844-1900) the harbinger of postmodernism. His ideas exerted a strong influence on two of the three "central and paradigmatic" philosophers of postmodernism: the late Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Richard Rorty.
While rejecting its relativism, Grenz finds "common ground" with postmodernism in its denial of: (1) " the rational, scientific method [as] the sole measure of truth;" (2) the total "objectivity" of knowledge and its separability from "our historical and cultural context;" (3) "the assumption of the inherent goodness of knowledge" (p. 166). Grenz proposes four "contours of a postmodern Gospel": (1) as "post-individualistic"--focusing on "the individual-within-community" (p. 168); (2) as "post-rationalistic"--"mak[ing] room for the concept of 'mystery' " (p. 170); (3) as "post-dualistic"--recognizing "the social and environmental context that forms and nourishes us" (p. 172); (4) as "post-noeticentric" [intellect-centered]--"emphasiz[ing] the relevance of faith for every dimension of life" (p. 173).
Griffin, David Ray. God and Religion in the Postmodern World: Essays in Postmodern Theology (Albany, NY: State U. of New York Press, 1989).
Griffiths, Paul J., ed. Christianity Through Non-Christian Eyes (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1990). Currently on the faculty of the U. Notre Dame, Griffiths holds degrees in theology, classical Indian religion, and Buddhist studies; he has also taught at U. Wisconsin and U. Chicago. This volume includes essays from adherents and proponents of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. A common theme is the continuing perception of Christianity--from the 'outside'--as an oppressive ideology, based upon its association with colonialism in the past.
Griffin, David Ray, et al, eds. Varieties of Postmodern Theology (Albany, NY: State U. of New York Press, 1989).
Guinness, Os. The American Hour: A Time of Reckoning and the Once and Future Role of Faith (New York: The Free Press, 1993); Dining with the Devil: The Metachurch Movement Flirts with Modernity (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993). Dr. Guinness (D.Phil., Oxford), who serves as exec. director of the Williamsburg Charter Foundation, argues in The American Hour that "the crisis of cultural authority" in the U.S. has reached a "climax" comparable to that preceding the Civil War (p. 136). "The dethroning of the biblical worldview… signifies the drying up of America's oldest, strongest source of individual and cultural meaning" (p. 69). He diagnoses "three (cultural) cancers": personal "hollowness;" spiritual "homelessness;" and social "herolessness" (pp. 397-398); and prescribes a thoroughgoing repentance (for our 'thanklessness' and 'forgetting God') and a rediscovery of the "living tradition" of the past (pp. 401-411).
Guinness advances a "vision of religious liberty" which he calls "covenantalism" or "chartered pluralism," based upon the American heritage of compacts and charters, and the principle of free consent (pp. 248-252). What is urgently required, Guinness argues, is a "public philosophy," that is, "a common vision for the common good" (p. 148) and a "moral consensus" (p. 151) which can only develop through public debate, humility and persuasion.
Gushee, David P. The Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust: A Christian Interpreta-tion (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994). Gushee (b. 1962) is an assist. prof. of Christian ethics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He is concerned that Christians "too easily…distance themselves from Christian involvement in this particular catastrophe. Unlike, for example, the slaughter in Bangladesh in 1971 or in Cambodia throughout the 1970s, this mass killing directly involves us. The Holocaust is an event in the history of the Christian faith and the Christian church… the Holocaust was not merely an event in Christian history but in several critical ways a stunning Christian moral failure" (p. 13). In spite of this failure of the Christian church in general, it is estimated that between 100,000 and 250,000 Gentiles, most of them acting individually, aided Jews during the Holocaust (p. 9). Increasingly in recent years there has been an attempt among Jews to identify and honor these rescuers. Those "who were neither perpetrators nor passive bystanders but instead risked their lives to save Jews… are known in Jewish life today as the 'Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust'" (p. 8).
Ironically, Gushee thinks, despite "the prominent place of these Righteous Gentiles in Jewish memory and reflection… these people, whom many Jews actually call 'Christian rescuers,' have no such place in Christian memory or reflection." "Not only have large swaths of the Christian community ignored the Holocaust or learned nothing from it, but even our most impressive moral exemplars are better known in the Jewish community than in the churches (p. 16). It was to correct this deficiency that Gushee undertook the current study.
One of Gushee's tragic discoveries was "the rather low percentage of rescuers who cite religion as even one of their reasons for rescue…The historical record reveals that some rescuers saved Jews despite some of the teaching they received at church" (pp. 164-65). Gushee is led to recognize "the profound importance of social and moral order." Citing his dependence on Reinhold Niebuhr, "who emphasized strongly both the possibilities and the limits of human moral resources and the need for a just political order that through coercion hinders the worst instincts of human beings," Gushee also recognizes a similar perspective in Martin Luther (pp. 158; 226, n. 41). Gushee concludes: "Any approach to Christian ethics that presumes that the church must form airtight communities is an unconstructive utopianism;" instead: "The church must acknowledge the fact that communities and resources other than itself sometimes bear decisive moral significance, both for Christians and for society at large" (p. 166). Gushee applauds the recent emphasis on character formation by S. Hauerwas, A. MacIntyre, and others (p. 227, nn. 62, 65).