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Against Christianity

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  508 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
How could a conservative Christian - an ordained minister with a beard, no less - be against not only Christianity, but theology, sacraments, and ethics as well? Yet that is the stance Peter Leithart takes in this provocative theological bricolage. Seeking to rethink evangelical notions of culture, church, and state, Leithart offers a series of short essays, aphorisms, and ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 27th 2004 by Canon Press
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Ben De Bono
Jan 17, 2012 Ben De Bono rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
I found this book through Goodread's recommendations feature. When I first saw it, I took one look at the title and rolled my eyes. It seemed like it was going to be yet another "we hate religion" book similar to John Eldredge's latest disappointment and a certain vastly overrated youtube video that's been making the rounds lately. The problem with thhose books is that the word "religion" is poorly defined and basically becomes a blank canvas for the author to project onto everything he dislikes ...more
Douglas Wilson
Jan 25, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it it was amazing
Just great. Repays multiple readings. On another reading, I rated it "stupendous" (finished May 03).
Donald Owens II
Jan 22, 2016 Donald Owens II rated it really liked it
First let me say Leithart is NOT against Christianity. He is against treating the biblical faith as one among many valid, individualistic, personal views of the world, to be privately held with no direct public influence. He is FOR Christendom. He is only against "Christianity" as he defines it for the sake of argument. Unfortunately he never directly gives that definition, and it must be deduced from various statements throughout the book. Such as: "Such a procedure is compatible with [the] her ...more
Sep 08, 2010 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christianity has become the label for the church marginalized by the modern secular state. So Leithart is against Christianity. Leithart calls the church to repent of its retreat and reassert its culture, language, and influence in the world at large, which includes the state.

Haven't we tried this before you ask? What about the evils of medieval Christendom? Leithart convincingly argues that the evils of Christendom were inconsistencies, and not a problem intrinsic to the social order. The chur
May 19, 2013 Peter rated it really liked it
This is a short book with four "against" chapters (Christianity, Theology, Sacraments, and Ethics) and one "for" chapter (Constantine). More accurate chapter titles would be: "Against Secular Modernism (or the sacred/secular dichotomoy)," "Against the Academy," "Against the Sign/Signified Dichotomoy," "Against the Privatization of the Gospel," and "For Christendom."

It is a little hokey at times (Leithart describes the book as "theological haiku") and certainly lacks the nuance that is expected
Jacob Aitken
*The Church as a Counter-City*

This might easily be the best book that I have read in the past 3 years. I have re-read this book several times. By Christianity Leithart means the "privatized religion dominated by the Enlightenment." It can be "conservative or liberal," but the end result is the same: whatever external truth claims may be presented by such adherents, they seperate reality into sacred and secular.

Leithart makes a number of stunning observations. I simply cannot do a review of this
Dan Glover
Oct 26, 2010 Dan Glover rated it really liked it
Peter Leithart has written a book calling the church to manifest the life of the kingdom of God, the kingship of Jesus Christ, in all the world through all we are and do. Part of this task is identifying some of the many ways the church today has adopted the values and traits and assumptions of the surrounding culture. This is essentially a call to the church to abandon "Christianism" (what Leithart is calling "Christianity") and become the kingdom of God under the Lordship of Jesus Christ manif ...more
Santeri Marjokorpi
Oct 29, 2014 Santeri Marjokorpi rated it really liked it
Shelves: teologia
Kirja vastustaa moderniin maailman ideologioihin sopeutunutta "kristinuskoa", joka ei näe itseään omana radikaalisti maailmasta erillisenä valtakuntanaan. Leithartilla oli monia hyviä ajatuksia siitä, kuinka kristinuskon tulisi nykyään ilmaista itseään. Tykkäsin erityisesti siitä kuinka hän puhui rituaalien tärkeydestä kulttuurin keskuksena ja myös kristinuskon keskuksena, jos se aikoo olla kulttuurinen voima. Pienenä miinuksena kirjoittajalta puuttui luterilainen ajatus kahdesta regimentistä ja ...more
Jan 06, 2011 Nathan rated it it was amazing
Lots of Presbyterians in my circles hate this book, but that's just because they didn't read past the title. It's really really fantastic! It is an exposition of the concept of the Kingdom of God and how the church needs to get with the Biblical program of world conquest! The church isn't just there to give people a spiritual side of life. It is life, and ought to govern all aspects of life. he finishes with a section on Constantine, which I think was a preliminary investigation for what turned ...more
Wade Stotts
Delightfully unbalanced. Deliciously insensitive.
Leithart, like Chesterton, is really good when he's aphoristic and really dreadful when he's systematic.

This book gets huge points for being readable and beautifully written. Leithart shows a poetic talent (always good in a theologian), and a knack for both wit and depth.

Unfortunately, he doesn't really argue effectively with specific theologies he sets his sights on. Stanley Hauerwas, in particular, gets zingers from Leithart, but they don't really lower the shields to nine percent as intended
Feb 10, 2014 Terri rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
"It is an error to think that once we've systematized the propositional content of scripture, the result is a 'worldview' called Christianity to which we can give our assent, and there an end"

Leithart tells us clearly that Christianity is not "religious" beliefs over against "secular" or "political" or "social," it is not a layer added onto human life. It is life.

The church is a way of living together before God, a new way of being human together. The gospel is the announcement of a new city thr
Nov 04, 2014 Per rated it really liked it
YES! I love this little hard-hitting book. Its only flaw is that it is so short. Because of the title, it may be wise to start off by saying that Leithart is not actually against true biblical religion, but rather he is fiercely attacking christianism, or the modern perversion of christianity. Theology, the sacraments, ethics, everyone gets their fair share of the whip, and rightly so. Modern christianism has bought into the modernity project of separating the church from the public sphere and t ...more
M.G. Bianco
Aug 26, 2010 M.G. Bianco rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Not quite Alexander Schmemann's For the Life of the World (although with many similarities), but Leithart outdoes himself with his stream-of-conscious approach to presenting a view of the Church that has been lost to modern evangelicalism's Christianity.
Jon Swerens
Jul 21, 2009 Jon Swerens rated it really liked it
A good book that does a demolition job of a lot of assumptions commonly made by modern American Christians. One problem is that I found the book a bit of a challenge to follow, written as it is in a choppy style.
Apr 07, 2015 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Great book! Challenged my thinking... (2006)

Re-read this book in 2015 and definitely was still impressed with its ability to provoke thought that I believe is much needed...
Abe Goolsby
Sep 15, 2009 Abe Goolsby rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: every Christian in the world (or at least in America).
Shelves: theology
Don't let the title scare you away. I'd say this is one of the most important books I've read in the last decade.
Oct 26, 2014 Jeremy marked it as to-read
Leithart is against Christian-ism. See Doug Wilson's comments here.
Peter N.
Mar 14, 2009 Peter N. rated it it was amazing
Paradigm shifting. Drags you out of modern enlightenment Christianity.
Jesse Broussard
Apr 09, 2008 Jesse Broussard rated it it was amazing
One of the few books on this topic that is internally consistent.
Jan 24, 2015 Luther rated it really liked it
Excellent and provoking in a good way. The central thesis of the book, that the Church is a counter-city in the midst of and inherently opposed to the cities of the world, has dizzying implications that I still have yet to completely digest. Religious feasts and rituals were part and parcel of politics in the Greco-Roman world, so when the Church comes onto the scene and establishes it's own feasts and it's own rituals, it establishes itself as it's own polity. Matthew proclaims Christ as Lord ( ...more
Dec 20, 2010 Andrew rated it really liked it
One of the most seminal books in my thinking.
Gwen Burrow
Jun 14, 2009 Gwen Burrow rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
You've gotta read this, if only for the title.
Jonathan Cavett
Sep 07, 2014 Jonathan Cavett rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Fantastic book. This book does for the Church what his The Baptized Body does for baptism. See my review of that book.

I jotted the following summaries down as I read the book to help me clarify my understanding of his main points:

The Gospel can and will influence Kings and governments. It must. Either emperors and empires will be converted by the preaching of the Gospel, or the men and women martyred by the emperor's antagonism to Christ will be vindicated, and the city will be judged.

The sacram
Jay Miklovic
Jan 25, 2012 Jay Miklovic rated it it was amazing
Great book, a bit mind bending for those someone who is still relatively new to what is being presented.

The point of the book, at least as I understood it, was to divorce ourselves from this thinking that the church is a functioning unit within existing society, and instead see it as a new society of grace, forgiveness, and service that is altogether that is breaking into this world.

It is clear that Leithart sets forth this volume to stir the pot a bit and get people to really think through thei
Sep 22, 2010 Caleb rated it really liked it
Through the lens of a post-millennial eschatology, Peter Leithart looks at the church, theology, sacraments, and Christian practice from a perspective largely different from most evangelical circles. The common theme throughout is a high view of the visible church, constituted as an alternative polis within the larger polis. Leithart is "against Christianity" in favor of a new Christendom (one rejecting the false premises of 'the Christian right' and envisioning the formative effect of the Churc ...more
Dec 03, 2013 Scott rated it really liked it
Leithart argues against not Christ or the Church, but against an intellectualized, privatized understanding of the Christian faith. For Leithart, "Christianity" offers a philosophy or an ideology when the point of the gospel is that the Church is a new society of redeemed people, the City of God, in Augustine's words. This means that theology ought to express the language and stories of the people of God, sacraments (baptism and the Lord's Supper) mark out the members of the city, and that the e ...more
Brad Crosby
Mar 13, 2015 Brad Crosby added it
Shelves: theology
Very good. Leithart is brilliant, and he has arranged here a lot of good thoughts on the way much of Western Christianity has come to think of itself and its beliefs (self-perception) the same way non-Christians might, and the ramifications this has had to our belief and practice (not very good).
Luke Dixon
Dec 03, 2015 Luke Dixon rated it it was amazing
I had to get by bearing at first, having not read Leithart before, but loved the balance he struck in critiquing the modern conceptions of Christianity, theology, sacraments, and ethics. I am grateful that the book is not ONLY against Christianity but encourages, with all hope, the evangelical rehabilitation of Church.
Jul 21, 2013 Kris rated it it was amazing
I read this for he first time in 2004, and found it veery influential. Leithart is a pastor and theology professor, and no doubt it is quite a startling title. Leithart explains that he is pro-Church, but against Christianity expressed as a mere set of ideas. Christianity as an idea is nothing more than a gnostic heresy. In contrast to contemporary evangelical culture, which rejects the institutional church and rituals, Leithart makes a spirited defense of the Church as the body of Christ, and r ...more
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Peter Leithart received an A.B. in English and History from Hillsdale College in 1981, and a Master of Arts in Religion and a Master of Theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in 1986 and 1987. In 1998 he received his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England. He has served in two pastorates: He was pastor of Reformed Heritage Presbyterian Church (now Trinity Presbyter ...more
More about Peter J. Leithart...

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“Worship is Political Science 101.
In every worship service, the Christian ekklesia is renewed in her unique story and language, her unique political experience and vocation. Every worship service is a challenge to Caesar, because every Lord's Day we bow to a Man on the throne of heaven, to whom even great Caesar must bow. O'Donovan claims that all political order rests on a people's homage to authority, which is to say, on an act of worship. Every Lord's Day, the Church is reconstituted as a polity whose obedience is owed to Christ, and we are taught to name Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords.”
“The Bible never mentions Christianity. It does not preach Christianity, nor does it encourage us to preach Christianity. Paul did not preach Christianity, nor did any of the other apostles. During centuries when the Church was strong and vibrant, she did not preach Christianity either. Christianity, like Judaism and "Yahwism", is an invention of biblical scholars, theologians, and politicians, and one of its chief effects is to keep Christians and the Church in their proper marginal place. The Bible speaks of Christians and of the Church, but Christianity is gnostic, and the Church firmly rejected gnosticism from her earliest days.” 2 likes
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