A Secular Definition

I’m in the middle of reading The Secular Bible by Jacques Berlinerblau, the same author who recently criticized the ecumenical outlook of the SBL. I’ll have more to say about it later, but for now, this is how Berlinerblau defines “secularism”:

“What do we mean by ‘secularism’? Our understanding is somewhat idiosyncratic. As we see it, secularism cannot be reduced to a political platform insisting on the categorical separation of Church and State… No particular emphasis is placed on the importance of living exclusively in the ‘here and now’. Nor are we seduced by the lure of hyperscientific rationality and its ability to power our triumphant march through history. Secularism, at its essence and at its absolute best, comprises an unrelenting commitment to judicious and self-correcting critique… Secularism’s ‘job’ consists of criticizing all collective representations… Voltaire’s Candide was certainly on to something when he declared, ‘isn’t their pleasure in criticizing everything, in seeing faults where other people think they see beauties?’ Secularism, as we envision it, is elitist and heretical by nature. When it aspires to become a popular movement, an orthodoxy, or the predicate of a nation-state, it betrays itself and is not likely to succeed.” (p 7)

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One thought on “A Secular Definition

  1. Loren, I’ve also been following your discussion of Berlinerblau on the Christian Origins list.I’m still not sure what B. is talking about, but it is seeming to me that he is trying (re)define secularism in the mold of one of the post-modernisms. If so, I don’t think that is doing justice to the term.

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