Tag: Wilfred Cantwell Smith

  • Believing and Knowing

    “The X-Files” is a popular television series that was originally aired from September 1993 to May 2002. It was produced by Chris Carter for the Fox Network. While I did catch an occasional episode or two when it was first aired, it’s only now — almost two decades after the series began — that I’ve started watching “X-Files” […]

  • The Word “Religion”

    The Meaning and End of Religion (1962) — declared “a modern classic” by John Hick — is probably the most important of the many writings by the Canadian historian and theologian Wilfred Cantwell Smith. In this book, Smith presents a complex and subtle argument to explain his proposal for how the academic study of religion ought to be […]

  • Between “Deed” and “Idea” (1)

    When Iqbal published his lectures on “the reconstruction of religious thought in Islam,” he decided to add a brief preface. The preface begins with the following statement: The Qur’an is a book which emphasizes ‘deed’ rather than ‘idea’. This is a significant statement, considering where it appears: in the preface to a book which is […]

  • Faith and Belief (5)

    The relation between faith and belief is dialectical: (1) belief is one of the forms in which faith is expressed, (2) belief is one of the sources from which faith is nourished. Let me elaborate. People’s faith expresses itself in a variety of historical forms; these historical forms, in turn, sustain and nourish their faith. The historical expressions of faith are many — symbols, myths, beliefs, doctrines, theologies, rituals, customs, laws, ethics, institutions, activism, music, […]

  • Faith and Belief (4)

    Having looked at the two meanings of belief, let us now consider the word faith. Unlike belief, whose meaning changed drastically during the seventeenth century, the word faith has retained much of its original meaning in modern English. Yet, the two words are often used inaccurately as synonyms, thereby adding to the confusion and giving rise […]

  • Faith and Belief (3)

    In the previous post, I briefly discussed the contemporary meaning of the word belief. As Wilfred Cantwell Smith notes, the modern sense of believing essentially involves “the holding of certain ideas” in one’s mind. Furthermore, Smith shows that the modern usage of the word believing assumes and implies that it is some thing very different […]

  • Faith and Belief (2)

    In his book Faith and Belief (1979), the Canadian scholar Wilfred Cantwell Smith analyzes these two terms from a variety of angles, including the history of their usage. Smith notes that many people use the words faith and belief in a more or less interchangeable manner, as if they were synonyms; yet, the two words […]

  • Religion in Two Dimensions

    Religion comes in two dimensions: religion of the Self, and religion of the ego. I use these two terms in a quasi-Jungian sense. Religion of the Self is difficult and challenging. Since you cannot be born into it, you have to work really hard to make any progress in religion of the Self. The more you progress, […]