Book Review: God’s Century , written by Monica D. Toft, Daniel Philpott, and Timothy S. Shah

Book Review: God’s Century , written by Monica D. Toft, Daniel Philpott, and Timothy S. Shah New York: W. W. Norton, 2011. $ 23.62 (paperback) God’s Century God’s Century is a welcome addition to the literature on religion and politics. It offers a simple and powerful model to explain the divergent outcomes of religious influence on politics. The book’s narrow definition of key terms such as politics, religion, and religious actors would appeal to political scientists but would disappoint scholars of religion as well as sociologists and anthropologists. The authors define religious actors as “any individual, group, or organization that espouses religious beliefs and that articulates a reasonably consistent and coherent message about the relationship of religion to politics” (p. 23). These actors have increasingly influenced social and political agendas over the past forty years. Religious actors’ political assertiveness has produced divergent outcomes: some religious actors have engaged in civil war and embraced terrorism while some others have advanced democratization, human rights, and social justice. Two factors are behind these varied results. The first is political theology: the religious actors’ ideas about political legitimacy and justice (p. 27). Neither fixed nor epiphenomenal, these ideas shape religious actors’ political engagement (p. 29). These ideas cannot be reduced to socio-economic or political factors but to actors’ http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sociology of Islam Brill

Book Review: God’s Century , written by Monica D. Toft, Daniel Philpott, and Timothy S. Shah

Sociology of Islam, Volume 1 (3-4): 281 – Apr 30, 2014

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2014 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
Subject
Book Reviews
ISSN
2213-140X
eISSN
2213-1418
DOI
10.1163/22131418-00104010
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

New York: W. W. Norton, 2011. $ 23.62 (paperback) God’s Century God’s Century is a welcome addition to the literature on religion and politics. It offers a simple and powerful model to explain the divergent outcomes of religious influence on politics. The book’s narrow definition of key terms such as politics, religion, and religious actors would appeal to political scientists but would disappoint scholars of religion as well as sociologists and anthropologists. The authors define religious actors as “any individual, group, or organization that espouses religious beliefs and that articulates a reasonably consistent and coherent message about the relationship of religion to politics” (p. 23). These actors have increasingly influenced social and political agendas over the past forty years. Religious actors’ political assertiveness has produced divergent outcomes: some religious actors have engaged in civil war and embraced terrorism while some others have advanced democratization, human rights, and social justice. Two factors are behind these varied results. The first is political theology: the religious actors’ ideas about political legitimacy and justice (p. 27). Neither fixed nor epiphenomenal, these ideas shape religious actors’ political engagement (p. 29). These ideas cannot be reduced to socio-economic or political factors but to actors’

Journal

Sociology of IslamBrill

Published: Apr 30, 2014

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