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Private Belief, Public Avowal: Religious Liberals and the Ethics of Sincerity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter centres around the questions related to private belief and public avowal, focusing on individual believers whose spiritual journey made them relinquish the traditionalist faith of their childhood, replacing it by a sort of liberal faith. From the perspective of the history of modern Christianity the relationship between 'public' and 'private' religion can be studied in the context of the battle between liberal and traditionalist believers. The liberal and modernist ideal of sincerity came not without criticism. It is noteworthy that both orthodox believers and freethinkers ventured to express harsh criticism of the modernist cult of sincerity, charging liberals and modernists with being hypocrites and deceivers who, out of cowardice, did not want to go all the way in stating their convictions. The question whether to make public one's conversion to religious liberalism is still on the agenda of believers in the early years of the twenty-first century.

Keywords: modern christianity; private belief; public avowal; religious liberalism



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