Tomáš Halík provides a poignant reflection on Christianity’s crisis of faith while offering a vision of the self-reflection, love, and growth necessary for the church to overcome and build a deeper and more mature faith.
In a world transformed by secularization and globalization, torn by stark political and social distrust, and ravaged by war and pandemic, Christians are facing a crisis of faith. In The Afternoon of Christianity, Tomáš Halík reflects on past and present challenges confronting Christian faith, drawing together strands from the Bible, historic Christian theology, philosophy, psychology, and classic literature. In the process, he reveals the current crisis as a crossroads: one road leads toward division and irrelevance, while the other provides the opportunity to develop a deeper, more credible, and mature form of church, theology, and spirituality—an afternoon epoch of Christianity.
The fruitfulness of the reform and the future vibrancy of the Church depends on a reconnection with the deep spiritual and existential dimension of faith. Halík argues that Christianity must transcend itself, giving up isolation and self-centeredness in favor of loving dialogue with people of different cultures, languages, and religions. The search for God in all things frees Christian life from self-absorption and leads toward universal fraternity, one of Pope Francis’s key themes. This renewal of faith can help the human family move beyond a clash of civilizations to a culture of communication, sharing, and respect for diversity.
1. Faith In Motion
2. Faith As Experience Of Mystery
3. Reading The Signs Of The Times
4. A Thousand Years Like A Day
5. Religious Or Non-Religious Christianity?
6. Darkness At Noon
7. Is God Coming Back?
8. The Heirs Of Modern Religion
9. From Global Village To Civitas Oecumenica
10. A Third Enlightenment?
11. The Identity Of Christianity
12. God Near And Far
13. Spirituality As The Passion Of Faith
14. The Faith Of Non-Believers And A Window Of Hope
15. The Community Of The Way
16. A Community Of Listening And Understanding
Index of Names
“The Afternoon of Christianity serves to shine a light on the hope that is in the Church and the world. Halík’s ecclesiology is one that is badly needed in today’s Church, and one from which we must all learn if we are to be the community that we are called to be.” —Daniel Cosacchi, vice president for mission and ministry at the University of Scranton
“This book is key to understanding Pope Francis’s effort to lead Catholicism and religion in general in a period not primarily of structural or institutional reform, but of spiritual deepening in light of the global crisis. Halík describes the present suffering not as agony, but pangs of labor.” —Massimo Faggioli, author of The Liminal Papacy of Pope Francis
“Clearly and engagingly written, this book is a visionary product of a major thinker whose work cannot be pigeonholed as religious or spiritual but rather, by interweaving philosophy, theology, sociology, and psychology, seeks to address the human condition in toto.” —William A. Barbieri Jr., editor of At the Limits of the Secular
"When one happens upon a work like Tomáš Halík's The Afternoon of Christianity, one experiences a most refreshing and capacious reflection on Christian faith's necessary maturation through the crucible of doubt. A Christianity and a Church attentive to the Spirit, less concerned with power, more devoted to the spiritual passion that afflicted the heart of the great mystics, unanxious over discovering God in all things, more humble and able to forgive as we have been forgiven—such are the hues in Halík's vision of Christianity's next form. A welcome reminder that love alone is credible." —Jordan Daniel Wood, author of The Whole Mystery of Christ
"Tomáš Halík is one of the most important public intellectuals of our time, heroic in his engagement with the most challenging questions for church and society." —Janet Soskice, author of Sisters of Sinai
"Tomáš Halík is remarkable, always, for his intellectual balance and his pastoral insight. He sees modernity as an opportunity for a recovery of a genuine Biblical vision, deeply Traditional, in a way that can enliven even this 'afternoon' of Christianity, which, he reminds us, is indeed neither an evening nor a night." —John C. Cavadini, co-editor of Pope Francis and the Event of Encounter
“This age is not just an epoch of change, but a change of epoch,” Pope Francis says. The forms of religions and their roles in different societies and cultures are also changing. Secularization has not brought about the end of religion, but rather its transformation. While some forms of religion are experiencing major upheavals, others are so vibrant that they have transcended their former boundaries. Traditional religious institutions have lost their monopoly on religion. The culminating process of globalisation is encountering resistance: manifestations of populism, nationalism and fundamentalism are on the rise. The world community of Christians is not united – but today the greatest differences are not between churches, but within them. Differences in doctrine, and in religious and political attitudes, often have roots hidden in the deeper layers of people’s intellectual and spiritual lives. Sometimes people reciting the same creed in the same church pew have very different ideas about God. Among the transformations of today’s spiritual scene is the collapse of the wall between “believers” and “non-believers”; noisy minorities of dogmatic believers and militant atheists are being marginalized, while there is a growing number of those in whose minds and hearts faith (in the sense of “proto-faith”) and unbelief (in the sense of doubting skepticism) are intertwined. I am finishing this book in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic; around me many sick people die daily in overcrowded hospitals, and many of the living and healthy are slipping into existential insecurity. The certitudes of our world are also shaken by this experience. In addition to the long-standing crisis of traditional religious certitudes, there is also a crisis of traditional secular certitudes, especially the belief in humans’ dominion over nature and their own destiny. The state of the Catholic Church today in many ways resembles the situation just before the Reformation. When an unsuspected number of cases of sexual and psychological abuse were exposed, it shook the credibility of the Church and raised many questions about the whole system of the church. I regarded the closed and empty churches during the coronavirus pandemic as a prophetic warning sign: this may soon be the state of the church if it does not undergo a transformation. Certain inspiration can be found in the “Catholic Reformation”, which was carried on by courageous mystics such as John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Ignatius of Loyola and many others who, through their original spiritual experience, enriched both the theological reflection on faith and the visible form and practice of the Church. The current reform efforts cannot remain limited to changes in some institutional structures and a few paragraphs in the catechism, the code of canon law and the moral textbooks. The fruitfulness of the reform and the future vibrancy of the Church depend on a reconnection with the deep spiritual and existential dimension of faith. I regard the present crisis as a crossroads where the possibility of moving into a new, “afternoon” epoch in the history of Christianity presents itself. Also through its painful experiences, a shaken Christianity can – like a wounded physician – unleash the therapeutic potential of faith. If the churches manage to resist the temptations of self-centredness as well as collective narcissism, clericalism, isolationism and provincialism, they can make a significant contribution to a new, wider and deeper ecumenism. The new ecumenism is about more than the unity of Christians; the renewal of faith can be a step towards that “universal fraternity” which is the great theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate. It can help the human family move not towards a clash of civilisations but towards the formation of a civitas oecumenica – a culture of communication, sharing and respect for diversity.
In history God is revealed in the faith, love and hope of people, even people on the margins of the churches and beyond their visible boundaries. The search for God “in all things” and in all historical situations frees our life from monological self-absorption and transforms it into dialogical openness. Here I see a sign of the times and a light of hope even in difficult times. This is the hope that this book aims to serve.