Why Progressives Need God

Why Progressives Need God

An ethical defence of monotheism

Why secular society cannot solve its biggest problems.


Environmental destruction, poverty in the midst of obscene wealth, one war after another. Our biggest crises are getting worse. Secularism makes this inevitable by denying any moral authority higher than the ruling classes. By contrast, religious traditions offer accounts of who made us, for what purpose and how we should live, but whilst some are more constructive than others it is only monotheism, defined as divine harmony, that provides the philosophical and ethical framework necessary for people to lead better lives.

Drawing on cultural analysis, political philosophy, Christian apologetics and theodicy the author shows why, in order to resolve our crises, progressives need to reaffirm the goodness of the natural environment as a blessing from a good god.


In this extraordinarily wide-ranging study, Jonathan Clatworthy presents the case that ethics, taken seriously, requires monotheism as its foundation. He surveys various kinds of theism and atheism, and shows that monotheism makes more sense of the world than any variety of secularism. A challenging and important book, accessible to anyone interested in ultimate questions. ~ John Barton, Oriel & Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture (Emeritus), University of Oxford

At a time when economic, social and environmental crises loom large, and authoritarian Right-wing leaders appear to be in the ascendancy, the future looks particularly bleak. But Jonathan offers hope not just that a better society is possible, but that by working together progressives can achieve it. ~ Jonathan Bartley, Co-leader, Green Party of England and Wales

In a long and distinguished ministry, Jonathan has interpreted the Christian faith sensitively and wisely to those with liberal and progressive views. This book distils his thinking and teaching in ways that will help any sincere and open-minded seeker after truth. It is the fruit of a lifetime's discipleship, of a lifetime's rigorous honesty and of a lifetime’s prayer. I commend it warmly. ~ Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool

The 21st century is not working out so well and this provides the justification for an essay in natural theology. In this remarkable book—sharp but never polemical—Jonathan Clatworthy addresses theism’s cultured despisers and offers a defence of the public force of theism and the moral ‘necessity’ of God. This book will annoy some and intrigue others—but should be read by all. ~ Peter Scott, Samuel Ferguson Professor of Applied Theology, University of Manchester

Jonathan Clatworthy argues that belief in God can provide a better foundation for ethics than a wholly secular approach can. The argument is developed through careful historical study of how such beliefs have evolved and presupposes the importance of a liberal and non dogmatic understanding of religious beliefs. ~ Paul Badham, Emeritus Professor of Theology, University of Wales, Lampeter

With characteristic scholarship, clarity and humanity, Jonathan Clatworthy holds together the rational and the religious and seeks a synthesis. A thoughtful, accessible and hopeful book for our times. ~ Guy Elsmore, Archdeacon of Buckingham

In this thought-provoking and timely book, Jonathan Clatworthy makes the case for a reasoned and reasonable faith in a world that is both troubled and fascinated by religion. ~ Elaine Graham, Grosvenor Research Professor of Practical Theology, University of Chester

A clear and thoughtful defence of Christianity, liberalism and progress – at a time when all are under threat. ~ Linda Woodhead, Professor of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University

Jonathan Clatworthy
Jonathan Clatworthy Jonathan Clatworthy is a leading campaigner for liberal Christianity. He loves to bring theological and ethical insights to bear on contempo...
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