There is an essential change taking place in what it means to be "religious" today. Religious people are more interested in ethical guidelines and spiritual disciplines than in doctrines. The result is a universal trend away from hierarchical, regional, patriarchal, and institutional religion. As these changes gain momentum, they evoke an almost point-for-point fundamentalist reaction. Fundamentalism, Cox argues, is on graphic display around the globe because it is dying.
Once suffocated by creeds, hierarchies, and the disastrous merger of the church with the Roman Empire, faith--rather than belief--is once again becoming Christianity's defining quality. This recent move away from dogmatic religion is best explained against the backdrop of three distinct periods of church history:
"The Age of Faith": the first three centuries of Christianity, when the early church was more concerned with following Jesus's teachings than enforcing what to believe about Jesus
"The Age of Belief": marking a significant shift between the fourth and twentieth centuries when the church focused on orthodoxy and "correct doctrine"
"The Age of the Spirit": a trend that began fifty years ago and is increasingly directing the church of tomorrow whereby Christians are ignoring dogma and breaking down barriers between different religions--spirituality is replacing formal religion
"The Future of Faith" is a major statement and a hopeful look at a movement that is surfacing within Christianity and other religious traditions by one of the most revered theologians today.