The Problem of Christianity is based on a series of lectures that Josiah Royce delivered at Oxford University toward the end of his life. During these lectures he stated “the problem” in various ways, but his basic question was, “In what sense, if any, can the modern man consistently be, in creed, a Christian?” This question implies a potential contradiction between being a Christian and being a “modern” human. However, Royce, who recognized the desire for salvation as a fundamental human drive, had long since decided that Christianity was the human race’s “most effective expression of religious longing.”
In the book, Royce wishes to investigate what it means to belong to a Christian community—or, for that matter, any community. He rejects the notion that belonging means abandonment of the quest for living truth, unthinking adherence to static doctrine, or surrender of the will to a dominant individual. As essentially social beings, he says, people come together in a church to express their individual longing for salvation, and collectively they seek the truth that leads to salvation.
Royce amplifies on the Christian ideas of community, sin, atonement, and saving grace. That a community comes together to pursue shared individual goals implies that its members are loyal to one another for the sake of those goals. Further, a community of people exercising free choice is preferable to one made up of “puppets.”...
(The entire section is 520 words.)