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Honest to God

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  366 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Honest to God is not a textbook but rather an argument for a theological position. It is an important position, and Robinson has performed a long overdue task in presenting the position in a form which can be easily read and understood.'--Kenneth D. Freeman, The North American Review
Paperback, 148 pages
Published January 1st 1963 by Westminster John Knox Press
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Paul Bryant
Mar 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: godreads

John Robinson was a Bishop, no less, and this little hand grenade of a book was published in 1963, and can be bracketed with The Silent Spring (1962), The Feminine Mystique (1963) and Lady Chatterley's Lover (finally published in 1960) – all books which kickstarted the 1960s and made that decade what it became.

To help men through to the conviction about ultimate reality that alone finally matters we may have to discard every image of God – whether of the "one a
Mar 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone honestly and openely exploring their spiritual life
J. A. T. Robison's 1963 best seller is a real gem. The finest book about rethinking God and the Christian faith I've ever had the privilege to read.

Robinson's points are very simple: we must abandon the frankly unbelievable concept of a God "Out there," a supernatural person who is nothing more than a version of us writ large. Such a God is clearly no more than a psychological projection on our part. But this does NOT mean that we must abandon God.

Robinson asks to conceive of God as “the ground
Marc Arlt
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply brilliant. Everyone should read this book.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
This book made waves in the 1960s when it was released. Bishop Robinson utlized the work of theologians like Paul Tillich, Rudolph Bultmann and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (not the Bonhoeffer of The Cost of Discipleship that everyone knows and likes, the later more edgier Bonhoeffer of Letters and Papers from Prison). In essence, he popularized their thought in an effort to reimagine God for skeptical people.

Robinson begins by recognizing that humans one had a three-tiered understanding of the universe
Jul 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Forty-five years ago, an Anglican bishop wrote this controversial book suggesting that theism belongs to a pre-scientific age, and that we must form a belief in God that transcends mere supernaturalism in order for Christianity to survive.
Shane Wagoner
Mar 22, 2014 rated it liked it
A well written basic exposition of a worldview I have often found somewhat frail. I can't avoid acknowledging his suspicious use of Bonhoeffer and questionable dichotomies but overall, he discovered a richness in what I would call Liberal Christianity that I never saw before. However, he completely avoided the problem of evil and that is just unacceptable.
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Not an easy read, this is nevertheless a thoughtful exploration of how to approach faith in a "post-religious" society. Robinson assumes a level of knowledge of authors, theologians and philosophers that I don't have, but I found his arguments thought-provoking yet respectful of other's beliefs.
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-spiritual
It was an easy reading, though spoke of as a revolutionary book in its early years of publication, most of the ideas are already accepted by the Church and society. In a way the author fought for truth and justice in his time!!
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
A description of God, not as something separate from us (watching over us, listening to us) but as the ultimate reality (our own eyes, our own voice). Thanks, Dad: I enjoyed your 50+ year-old exclamation marks and comments in the margins!
Chris Webber
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
This was a difficult read for me. Over the past few decades I've had to deconstruct and reconstruct the concept of God in multiple ways. Robinson covered this rather painful process in wretched detail.

He covers the difficult bridge of moving from "God above us" to "God out there" to "God being the Ground of our every being."

"He who knows about depth knows about God." (pg 22)

There are admittedly many humans who accept at face value the "God above us" and this gives them a sense of purpose and com
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian, nonfiction
Where I got the book: purchased used on Amazon.

As I began reading this one because bookfriend Paul was reading it and it piqued my interest (the Goodreads effect!) I'd like to point you to Paul's review for an irreverent but fun take on this 60s "let's take on religion" classic. Like Paul, I have no clue whether this book is currently laughed at by theologians or accepted as an interesting step in the development of modern theology, so I'll just forge ahead and give you my impressions.

I spent mu
Erin Henry
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really interesting book written in the 1960s about the coming changes for the church. His main premise is that we must not make idols of our view of God, hold onto Christ and love and serve others.
Stephen Mortland
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Will challenge the unexamined presuppositions you hold about the nature of God. For that alone it is an invaluable book.
Aug 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I am sympathetic to Robinson's project to modernize Christianity as well as his critique against supernaturalism. I agree with him that supernatural theology is implausible and incoherent due to the progress made by modern science and that biblical scholarship (particularly higher criticism) which made biblical inerrancy extremely difficult to accept. However, I disagree with him that Tillich's theology would provide a satisfactory interpretation of the nature of God since it amounts to extreme ...more
Stephen Hayes
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: our-books, theology
What can I say about a book that I read 50 years ago, and really have no desire to reread? It was the publishing sensation of its time, I suppose, and perhaps for the first time in decades got many people in the secular West buying and reading books about theology.

I bought the book for my mother, who had expressed an interest in reading it, and I read it too, mainly to see what the fuss was about. But I was disappointed. John A.T. Robinson seemed to be urging me to stop believing things about G
J. Ewbank
Oct 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, a-good-read
I read Robinson's book many years ago when it was first published and enjoyed it. I found it recently and read it again and enjoyed it all over again. He points out that Christian theology must find new ways of interpreting the Gospel and Christianity because we are losing members because of the way we present God as "out there" or "up there." Modern man knows better and we need to find a truer and better way of presenting the message. We may never be ab le to present the whole thing but we need ...more
Sep 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
I read this as background to a discussion with a friend. N.T. Wright does a much better review of the book than I ever could here:

Robinson was uncomfortable with traditional British Christianity in the years after World War II. As Wright notes in his review, some of his concerns had merit. Yet the massive reductionism of Robinson's approach seems to lead to a "keep what you like, toss what you don't" approach that hasn't served the Anglican church well a
Thomas Fisher
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Robinson asks probing, daring questions of Christianity's presuppositions about supernaturalism that would strike most as heretical. The questions are interesting, sometimes useful, rarely articulated clearly. Robinson offers few real answers but rather jabs and pokes at various assumptions.
Paul Dubuc
Sep 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
I'm with C. S. Lewis on this one; wondering why God can't be both immanent and transcendent. What's the problem?
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
A thought-provoking book still, particularly on how outdated metaphors and language about God can make that God much more difficult to believe in.
Evan Kostelka
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Written in the 1960s, this is still as applicable and enlightening as ever.

I wrote a summary of the book, it is probably filled with typos and grammatical errors, but there was so much I wanted to summarize for myself.

Honest to God
John A. T. Robinson

1. Preface and Chapter 1: Reluctant Revolution
There is a growing gulf between the orthodox supernaturalism that the Christian faith has been framed and the categories the ‘non-church’ and ‘lay’ persons sees as meaningful. What is needed is not a rest
John Martindale
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
Robinson seemed to have thought with Bultmann that anyone who uses a toaster and enjoys modern transportation due to the the glorious progress of science cannot believe in a miracle, or the supernatural. Naturalism is self evidently and undeniably true, miracles do not and cannot happen. Period. I personally don't have a problem with the concept of a miracle, if there is a God who can act within the material world, though invisible, surely natural laws are no more violated than when human actors ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I started reading John A.T. Robinson's Honest to God for two reasons: first, I had recently read his Redating the New Testament , which I very much liked. Second, I understood that this book was controversial in theological circles when it was originally published in the early 1960s. I typically read several books at once, and for reasons unknown I set this one aside (despite the fact that my version is only 143 pages) for several months before finishing it.

As a result, I have temporarily los
Robert McAnally
Honest to Pete!

     Honest to God is the work that catapulted Bishop John A. T. Robinson from the ranks of obscure Anglican scholar to theological fame in Great Britain and throughout the Anglican communion. Its shocking premise that the age-old expressions of Christian thought (as in the Bible) are outmoded and incapable of being transmitted to members of present-day Western culture are the starting point for an analysis that leads to a substantial revision of not merely the language but the co
Michael Cayley
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
I first read this book soon after it was originally published over 50 years ago. The main theses are simple. That God is not some “old man in the sky”, some powerful father figure out there. That much of the language used to describe God in the Bible and in Christianity is metaphorical. That Jesus was not an all-powerful God wrapped in a thin skin of humanity, but was a fully human person completely transparent to God, reflecting God to an absolute degree. That God is to be found in the very dep ...more
David Grypma
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Because of its exploration of the theological philosophy extant in the mid 20th C. this was a bit of a challenge to read.
"Robinson's own evaluation of 'Honest to God', found in his subsequent book 'Exploration into God' (1967), stated that the chief contribution of this book was its successful synthesis of the work of seemingly opposed theologians Paul Tillich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Rudolf Bultmann." -Wikipedia

I have not read anything by Tillich, Bonhoffer or Bultmann so this was a good intro
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
I first read this book fifty years ago when I was on a spiritual quest and struggling to square my own sense of God with Christian theological dogma. I have found the book as thought-provoking and inspiring now as I did then. Though C S Lewis sneered at John Robinson (then Bishop of Woolwich) as “Bishop of Woolworths”, I have still struggled to understand his sometimes difficult prose, and actually found his quotations from Tillich and Bonhoeffer easier to follow. A seminal book which is as rele ...more
Jamie Roach
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorites this year. The author explores non-religious Christianity. For those looking at the church today and thinking, this could not be what Jesus had in mind, this book might be for you. He paints a third way between God as Superbeing and Atheism. Drawing on the work of Tillich he explores God as the ground/source of Being. God is Love. He also draws a lot from Bonhoeffer.
Rob Markley
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian
Sad really - Robinson died before he really had a chance to be confronted with a new reality of God in the shape of the Charismatic renewal. A great, brave and original bible scholar with a conservative outlook but theologically very liberal. Did God spare him, because he would have missed it????
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“that Christianity should be equated in the public mind, inside as well as outside the Church, with ‘organized religion’ merely shows how far we have departed from the New Testament. For the last thing the Church exists to be is an organization for the religious. Its charter is to be the servant of the world.” 1 likes
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