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Religions, Volume 15, Issue 3 (March 2024) – 132 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): This article explores the Jewish engagement with the Christian Ars Notoria, particularly through its Hebrew translation Melekhet Muskelet, as well as a notable discovery that links the Ars Notoria’s notae to the Kabbalistic ten sefirot. This connection suggests an early Jewish interest in this Christian magical text. The study, using textual and visual analysis, offers insights into the interplay between medieval Jewish Kabbalah and Christian magical texts, underscoring the need to reevaluate their mutual influences during the 13th and 14th centuries. View this paper
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28 pages, 6291 KiB  
Article
Spatial Imagination in Sacred Narratives of Mountain Communities in Western Yunnan, China
by Jinghua Huang, Chujing Yang and Si Chen
Religions 2024, 15(3), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030382 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 652
Abstract
Various sacred narratives have different emphases on the shaping of natural space. Creation myths reveal the basic structure of natural space. Sacred narratives of mountain gods focus on how and why mountain forests are the source of life and stability for nearly all [...] Read more.
Various sacred narratives have different emphases on the shaping of natural space. Creation myths reveal the basic structure of natural space. Sacred narratives of mountain gods focus on how and why mountain forests are the source of life and stability for nearly all the species in the area. The myth of the hunting god and the legend of the Flower Festival have a remarkable endemicity. The consciousness of the community of life, which is fundamentally constructed in creation myths, reveals visible and sensible pictures in these two types of narratives. The literary imagination of these sacred narratives focuses on establishing and breaking through spatial boundaries. In the intertwining of an imaginative narrative and a realistic existence, the sacredness of natural spaces is established and can be experienced. Mountaineers imbue their practices with gracefulness and nobleness in the dimensions of emotion and morality through storytelling in order to shape the morphological characteristics and the life essence of natural spaces. The shaping of beautiful places and sublime realms in these narratives is a vivid expression of cosmology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Space for Worship in East Asia)
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8 pages, 183 KiB  
Article
Contrasting Conceptions of Teshuvah: Between “Repentance” and “Atonement”—A Case Study of the Beta Israel Community (Ethiopian Jews)
by Sharon Z. Shalom
Religions 2024, 15(3), 381; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030381 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 533
Abstract
The Ethiopian Jews of the Beta Israel community are unique in the annals of Jewish history. The community maintained its Jewish identity and devotedly upheld observance of the mitzvot, even in the face of grave physical and spiritual difficulties and unrelenting attempts to [...] Read more.
The Ethiopian Jews of the Beta Israel community are unique in the annals of Jewish history. The community maintained its Jewish identity and devotedly upheld observance of the mitzvot, even in the face of grave physical and spiritual difficulties and unrelenting attempts to persuade them to abandon their religion. Yet, their traditions diverge significantly from the accepted Rabbinic halakhic tradition that is the norm in Israel. This paper examines Yom Kippur observances and describes key differences between the Beta Israel tradition, which reflects the centrality of atonement, and the Rabbinic tradition, which reflects the centrality of repentance. These distinctions stand as manifestations of a set of profound differences within the very consciousness that animates the two traditions. Discussion, using the works of thinkers like Rabbis Joseph B. Soloveitchik, his disciple, Prof. Rabbi David Hartman, and Ethiopian sages, will focus on the more theocentric Beta Israel tradition, in which individuals are perceived, and perceive themselves, as a part of a collective, in contrast to the Rabbinic tradition, which places a greater emphasis on the agency of the individual and human reason. We will highlight the difference between the concepts of “repentance” and “atonement” that are at the root of the two communities’ theologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Theologies)
12 pages, 227 KiB  
Article
Towards Re-Historicization: An Engagement of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Zimbabwe’s Efforts to Rewrite the History of James Anta
by Martin Mujinga
Religions 2024, 15(3), 380; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030380 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 536
Abstract
This paper is a follow-up to the research conducted in 2021 titled James Anta: missionary, martyr, and the unsung hero of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. The paper was a reconstruction of Anta’s life, ministry, and martyrdom. The research found out that [...] Read more.
This paper is a follow-up to the research conducted in 2021 titled James Anta: missionary, martyr, and the unsung hero of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. The paper was a reconstruction of Anta’s life, ministry, and martyrdom. The research found out that although the blood of Anta was the seed of Methodism in Zimbabwe, the church was reluctant to honour him. The research also noted that the Wesleyan Methodist church created a biased history of African cultural epistemology, which has no place for people who die young and unmarried. The paper concluded with a call for the Wesleyan Methodist church to rewrite its historiography, giving space to its martyrs like Anta. After reading the 2021 publication, the Wesleyan Methodist church leadership made urgent actions towards the re-historicization of Methodism in Zimbabwe with Harare West District dubbing its April 2022 Synod as James Anta Synod. The Synod further resolved to name the school they were intending to build after Anta. Moreover, Kadoma District agreed to rename Banket Circuit (where Anta was assassinated) as James Anta Circuit. The Wesleyan Methodist church further erected a monument of Anta and made the site a pilgrimage shrine. The fast responses by the church to honour Anta in 2022 justify their zeal to rewrite their history after 136 years of reluctancy. This paper used both primary and secondary sources to gather data. The paper concludes by challenging missionary churches to honour African agents whose history and sacrifice were seldomly considered and yet they were the key people in the Christianisation of Africa. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Theologies)
13 pages, 7648 KiB  
Article
Seals as a Reflection of the Self-Confidence, Self-Image and Identity of the Teutonic Order
by Katharina Kemmer
Religions 2024, 15(3), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030379 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 462
Abstract
This article deals with the question of the extent to which the Teutonic Order, as a clerical order of knights founded during the Third Crusade, succeeded in expressing its self-confidence and identity by means of its seal. The “geographical” area of investigation extends [...] Read more.
This article deals with the question of the extent to which the Teutonic Order, as a clerical order of knights founded during the Third Crusade, succeeded in expressing its self-confidence and identity by means of its seal. The “geographical” area of investigation extends to the bailiwicks of Franconia, Alsace–Burgundy, Lorraine, Austria, An der Etsch and in the mountains (South Tyrol) as well as the so-called Deutschmeistertum, whereby the terms mentioned do not necessarily correspond to the present-day areas of that designation. The time frame is within the Middle Ages. Due to the large number of surviving seals of the Teutonic Order, however, only a small insight from a larger study can be provided here. Selected seals of the Order’s various internal leadership strata are therefore presented, compared and examined to determine whether and to what extent they express a form of self-confidence and identity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monastic Identities: Comparative and Historical Perspectives)
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8 pages, 3580 KiB  
Article
Space and Sonship: Paul’s Familial Metaphors in Rom 8
by Annette Potgieter
Religions 2024, 15(3), 378; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030378 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 479
Abstract
Paul often uses metaphors as a method of persuasion. In Rom 8, Paul’s use of kinship metaphors such as “sonship” and being “heirs” is particularly ubiquitous. Paul writes to an audience situated in Rome where they would have been well aware of kinship [...] Read more.
Paul often uses metaphors as a method of persuasion. In Rom 8, Paul’s use of kinship metaphors such as “sonship” and being “heirs” is particularly ubiquitous. Paul writes to an audience situated in Rome where they would have been well aware of kinship metaphors as this inter alia formed part of the Julio-Claudio Caesars’ vocabulary and legitimation of their rule. Paul’s familial metaphors would have resonated with an audience in Rome au fait with the notion of adoption and its implications. The use of the images of “sonship” and “heir” also function as spatial metaphors indicating a vertical and horizontal understanding which the audience would have picked up on. The spatial metaphors contribute to an understanding of “in” and “out”, underscoring an alternative family identity found in Christ. These metaphors play a role in the formation and construction of what is later to be called early Christianity. Full article
10 pages, 248 KiB  
Article
Whose Soul Is It?—Destinative Magic in East-Central Europe (14th–18th Centuries)
by Benedek Láng
Religions 2024, 15(3), 377; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030377 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 604
Abstract
This study explores destinative elements in late medieval and early modern learned magic in East-Central Europe, focusing on names, images, characters, invocations, and addresses facilitating communication with transcendental entities. It contends that a thematic shift occurred in the early modern era, witnessing a [...] Read more.
This study explores destinative elements in late medieval and early modern learned magic in East-Central Europe, focusing on names, images, characters, invocations, and addresses facilitating communication with transcendental entities. It contends that a thematic shift occurred in the early modern era, witnessing a decline in destinative talisman texts, replaced by a surge in treasure-hunting manuals. Drawing from legal cases and treasure-hunting manuals, the research aims to categorize the “souls” frequently invoked in these practices. The term “souls” is interpreted as either spirits or the souls of the deceased, reflecting the significant role of the dead in treasure hunting, often conducted in cemeteries. This shift is linked to changes in the sociocultural background of practitioners, marking a transformation in magical practices from destinative talismans to treasure hunting, revealing a nuanced evolution in East-Central European magical traditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with the Dead)
12 pages, 318 KiB  
Communication
The Self and the Other: A Further Reflection on Buddhist–Christian Dialogue
by Shiying Zhang
Religions 2024, 15(3), 376; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030376 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 642
Abstract
The dialogue between and comparative research into Christianity and Buddhism theoretically involve the issues of self and other. Faced with the cultural reality of religious diversity, theologies of religions provide four modes of dialogue through which Christianity can interface with religious others. The [...] Read more.
The dialogue between and comparative research into Christianity and Buddhism theoretically involve the issues of self and other. Faced with the cultural reality of religious diversity, theologies of religions provide four modes of dialogue through which Christianity can interface with religious others. The exploration of the infinite and transcendent traits of otherness in contemporary phenomenological philosophy, as well as the emphasis on differences in postmodern philosophy, contributes to maintaining a clear awareness of otherness and self-identity in the Buddhist–Christian dialogue. Following the dialogical path in comparative theology, which leads one out of oneself, into the other, and back into oneself, in experimental Buddhist-Christian dialogue activities, both Christianity and Buddhism figure as the self and the other. If they openly accept each other’s otherness and heterogeneity, view each other as mirrors, and criticize and reflect on themselves, then creative insights into themselves will ultimately be generated. Their selves will be rediscovered, and their understanding and expression will be updated. Reflecting on the Buddhist–Christian dialogue from four aspects, namely, ultimate realism, cosmology, ethics, and religious ideals, can eliminate some misunderstandings and deepen both parties’ understandings of themselves and others. Full article
15 pages, 247 KiB  
Article
Artificial Intelligence’s Understanding of Religion: Investigating the Moralistic Approaches Presented by Generative Artificial Intelligence Tools
by Ruth Tsuria and Yossi Tsuria
Religions 2024, 15(3), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030375 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 751
Abstract
As AI becomes more commonplace, it is imperative to investigate the ways in which this technology represents various socio-political concepts and identities, such as religion. To do so, we present several conversations with various AI tools on three religious traditions: Judaism, Islam, and [...] Read more.
As AI becomes more commonplace, it is imperative to investigate the ways in which this technology represents various socio-political concepts and identities, such as religion. To do so, we present several conversations with various AI tools on three religious traditions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. From our analysis of these conversations, we noted three important elements: AI struggles to represent complex religious issues; It emphasized diversity of opinions; And it encourages the reader to engage with respect and sensitivity regrading religious issues. We therefore suggest that AI takes an axiologically focused approach towards religious representations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking Digital Religion, AI and Culture)
13 pages, 235 KiB  
Article
Christian Neoplatonism and Deep Incarnation: Nicholas of Cusa and Giordano Bruno as Inspirations for Contemporary Ecotheology
by Matthew Eaton
Religions 2024, 15(3), 374; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030374 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 583
Abstract
In response to the specter of looming anthropogenic ecological catastrophe, many Christian thinkers have begun to rethink the God/world relationship and reimagine the ontic cleavage between divinity and creation. The idea of “deep incarnation”, which expands the scope of divine incarnation in an [...] Read more.
In response to the specter of looming anthropogenic ecological catastrophe, many Christian thinkers have begun to rethink the God/world relationship and reimagine the ontic cleavage between divinity and creation. The idea of “deep incarnation”, which expands the scope of divine incarnation in an attempt to draw God and creation into closer relation, is a prevalent framework for such reimagination. Two historic, underutilized thinkers that might help deep incarnation theologians expand their own theologies and make sense of the conceptual and ethical differences among them are Neo-Platonist philosopher–theologians Nicholas of Cusa and Giordano Bruno. Working within an ecofeminist framework, this article argues that while both Cusanus and Bruno provide significant philosophical grounds for contemporary ecotheologies of deep incarnation, a Brunist perspective is preferable because of its more expansive anthropology and its more inclusive understanding of divinity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Platonic Tradition, Nature Spirituality and the Environment)
11 pages, 211 KiB  
Editorial
Spiritual Elasticity and Crisis: From Non-Religiosity to Transreligiosity—An Introduction
by Anastasios Panagiotopoulos, Eugenia Roussou and Silvia Rivadossi
Religions 2024, 15(3), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030373 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 709
Abstract
From the socio-economic and political crisis in southern Europe during the last few decades, to the more recent global healthcare crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, contemporary societies have faced and are still under the impact of considerable sociocultural change [...] Full article
27 pages, 17975 KiB  
Article
A Christian Moses in the Transfiguration Mosaics Created during the Reign of Justinian
by Sung Hyun Nam
Religions 2024, 15(3), 372; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030372 - 20 Mar 2024
Viewed by 643
Abstract
This essay examines various aspects of how Moses was represented as a Christian in artistic depictions of the Transfiguration produced during Justinian’s reign (527–565), particularly discussing mosaics in the apses of the Church of Sant’Apollinare and St. Catherine’s Monastery. First, this essay demonstrates [...] Read more.
This essay examines various aspects of how Moses was represented as a Christian in artistic depictions of the Transfiguration produced during Justinian’s reign (527–565), particularly discussing mosaics in the apses of the Church of Sant’Apollinare and St. Catherine’s Monastery. First, this essay demonstrates the existence of an earlier type of the Metamorphosis, the St. Sabina-Brescia Lipsanotheca type. Second, this essay focuses on the exegetical tradition of the Transfiguration, which, until the first half of the fourth century, was relatively mild, but was later aggravated by Christian writers during the Theodosian Dynasty. Ultimately, a new type of Transfiguration was created, of which the central theme was the creation of a Christian Moses. The motivation behind this new type was the contradiction attributable to Maximian, the archbishop of Ravenna, the contradiction between his typological iconography visualized in the sanctuary of the Church of San Vitale and Justinian’s severe persecution against the Jews. This contradiction was dissolved through the creation of an image of a Christian Moses in the Transfiguration mosaics in the apses of Sant’Apollinare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Religions and Theologies)
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25 pages, 7415 KiB  
Article
From Pagoda to Pavilion: The Transition of Spatial Logic and Visual Experience of Multi-Story Buddhist Buildings in Medieval China
by Yifeng Xie
Religions 2024, 15(3), 371; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030371 - 20 Mar 2024
Viewed by 592
Abstract
Pagodas and pavilions (ge 閣) are the most popular and representative multi-story buildings since Buddhism was introduced to China. While providing visitors with a new visual experience, they have also largely reshaped the urban space and skyline in medieval China. The former [...] Read more.
Pagodas and pavilions (ge 閣) are the most popular and representative multi-story buildings since Buddhism was introduced to China. While providing visitors with a new visual experience, they have also largely reshaped the urban space and skyline in medieval China. The former originated from India and Central Asia and was transformed in China, developing a unique style; The latter originated more from the creation of Chinese architects and became a model of typical Chinese-style Buddhist architecture. Briefly, the pagoda matured earlier than the pavilion, and continuously developed while maintaining its basic style; the pavilion-style Buddhist architecture gradually developed later and finally matured after the Tang and Song dynasties (618–1276), partially presenting a different spatial logic from the pagoda, and bringing a new visual experience. In my opinion, although the pavilion may not necessarily be as large as the pagoda in terms of volume and absolute height, it can provide believers with greater visual impact in the internal space for worship, due to the cross-story giant Buddhist statues; the closer integration of Buddha statues and architecture makes it replace or share the core position of the pagoda in some monasteries and even become the visual center of the entire religious space. Due to the existence of the pavilion, viewers can not only worship the Buddhist statues on a two-dimensional plane or by looking up at the statues from the bottom, but have also gained a three-dimensional perspective, to worship directly at the Buddha’s shoulders, neck, and head. In the Buddhist grottoes, the layout of the early single-layer or multi-layer horizontally distribution of caves on cliff was also changed due to the excavation of the cross-layer giant statue grottoes, covered by multi-story pavilion-style buildings, providing viewers with a visual experience similar to that of the pavilions of great statues. Additionally, there is a new visual experience of worshiping the Buddha in a vertical circle, in cases such as Bamiyan and the Leshan Giant Buddha. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Space for Worship in East Asia)
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23 pages, 9767 KiB  
Article
The Images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in the Early Qing Collection of Taoist Immortal Stories
by Dadui Yao
Religions 2024, 15(3), 370; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030370 - 20 Mar 2024
Viewed by 748
Abstract
The book Lidai Shenxian Tongjian (The Comprehensive Mirror of Immortals Throughout the Dynasties), a compilation of Taoist narratives from the early Qing dynasty, contains a dedicated section on “The Life of Jesus,” accompanied by two images portraying Jesus and the Virgin [...] Read more.
The book Lidai Shenxian Tongjian (The Comprehensive Mirror of Immortals Throughout the Dynasties), a compilation of Taoist narratives from the early Qing dynasty, contains a dedicated section on “The Life of Jesus,” accompanied by two images portraying Jesus and the Virgin Mary. “The Life of Jesus” is believed to have originated from Gaspar Ferreira’s Nianzhu Guicheng (Rule for the Recitation of the Rosary) and Diego de Pantoja’s Tianzhu Yesu Shounan Shimo (The Passion of the Lord Jesus). The narratives and images of Christian content within Tongjian showcase the influence of Chinese Ming–Qing Taoist immortal stories and the indigenization of Christianity that resulted in a fusion of Chinese and Western cultural elements. Multiple versions of the accompanying images exist in different editions of Tongjian, indicating an evolution in the depictions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Through a comparative analysis of these images and their variations, we can glean valuable insights into the Qing dynasty editors’ reception of Western culture, shedding light on the process of localizing Christianity during the Ming–Qing period and emphasizing the significance of the cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Chinese and Western civilizations. Full article
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9 pages, 229 KiB  
Article
Contemporary Critical Reflections on Ion Bria’s Vision for Ecumenical Dialogue
by Doru Marcu
Religions 2024, 15(3), 369; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030369 - 20 Mar 2024
Viewed by 593
Abstract
In this study, I will expose the perspective of the ecumenical dialogue in the theology of Fr. Ion Bria, one of the well-known Romanians involved in the ecumenical movement. In the first part, after a short introduction, I will present the most important [...] Read more.
In this study, I will expose the perspective of the ecumenical dialogue in the theology of Fr. Ion Bria, one of the well-known Romanians involved in the ecumenical movement. In the first part, after a short introduction, I will present the most important biographical milestones of the Romanian theologian, as well as some details about his activity in the World Council of Churches. Then, in the second part, I will critically present the most important aspects of Bria’s ecumenical theology, as well as the reception of these ideas in contemporary Orthodox theology, in discussion with common witness and eucharistic communion within ecumenical dialogue. In the last part, I will present the critical remarks on ecumenism in Bria’s theology. Through this analysis, I will emphasize important directions that the ecumenical dialogue can exploit today to overcome some historical, cultural or theological preconceptions and misunderstandings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century)
23 pages, 11259 KiB  
Article
The Humanistic Process and Spatial Practice of Chinese Zhenshan 鎮山 Worship
by Siqi Tang and Huasong Mao
Religions 2024, 15(3), 368; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030368 - 20 Mar 2024
Viewed by 549
Abstract
The “Zhenshan” 鎮山 (which means a mountain that guards a certain territory) system is based on the traditional Chinese view of nature, which formed and developed through a long period of Confucian humanistic construction. It is the typical representation of China’s nature-oriented worship [...] Read more.
The “Zhenshan” 鎮山 (which means a mountain that guards a certain territory) system is based on the traditional Chinese view of nature, which formed and developed through a long period of Confucian humanistic construction. It is the typical representation of China’s nature-oriented worship space, and it has unique spatial order and spatial significance in the world’s sacred mountain worship. The excavation of the spatial characteristics of Zhenshan worship and its network of humanistic meanings is an important part of research that aims to discover the traditional Chinese values of nature, religious views, and Chinese worship space. Based on the analysis of graphic historical materials and a digital chronicle literature review, this paper quantitatively analyzes the historical information of Zhenshan and summarizes the process of change from the birth of the concept of Zhenshan in the Zhou dynasty to the formation of the sacrificial system in the Han dynasty and its gradual localization after the Tang and Song dynasties with an analysis of its spatial pattern and characteristics of worship. The results show that Zhenshan is one of the typical cultural symbols of the transformation of Chinese mountain worship into the unity of government and religion. And it is a typical product of Confucianism, in which the worship of nature in China is integrated into the political system, and its worship space is rooted in the national, regional, and urban spaces at multiple levels. The Zhenshan system, in the course of its dynamic development, has formed two types of worship space: temple sacrificial and metaphorical constraint, constructing a Chinese worship space based on the order of nature, which is distinctly different from the inward-looking religious space of the West and the sacred mountain worship space formed around the religion of the “supreme god”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Space for Worship in East Asia)
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31 pages, 471 KiB  
Article
The Agencies of God’s Word and Spirit: Modern Science as a “Sacred Reminder”
by Christopher Barina Kaiser
Religions 2024, 15(3), 367; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030367 - 19 Mar 2024
Viewed by 664
Abstract
In this essay, I argue that modern science can function as a source of “sacred reminders” for aspects of Christian theology, like the doctrine of the Trinity, that are not normally engaged with in the empirical world. This approach is an alternative to [...] Read more.
In this essay, I argue that modern science can function as a source of “sacred reminders” for aspects of Christian theology, like the doctrine of the Trinity, that are not normally engaged with in the empirical world. This approach is an alternative to the usual ways of relating scientific and theological endeavors in terms of conflict, separation, or consonance. I demonstrate this by beginning with the thoughts of two representative physicists (John Archibald Wheeler and Steven Hawking), particularly focusing on a fundamental distinction they make about the underlying ideal of the physical sciences. Noting a striking similarity of this distinction with some of the biblical imagery of God’s Word and Spirit, I review biblical texts along these lines to show partial continuity with the groundbreaking ideas of our physicists, and to show how they can be generalized to include (a) levels of organization beyond those of physics; (b) intensive, localized agencies of Word and Spirit as well as the more extensive agencies suggested their ideas; and (c) the commissioning agency of God the Father. A review of the theology of Irenaeus shows that these distinctions in biblical imagery were developed in the early Church and played an important role in early Trinitarian theology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Sciences as a Contemporary Locus Theologicus)
15 pages, 259 KiB  
Article
Thomas Aquinas and the Qualification of Monastic Labor
by Jeffrey Hanson
Religions 2024, 15(3), 366; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030366 - 19 Mar 2024
Viewed by 547
Abstract
Early monastic communities in Egypt were veritable laboratories for the practice of Christian virtue; perhaps surprisingly, they were also large-scale coordinated communities of labor. That manual labor should have been part of anchoritic life is not obvious; given that hermits were leaving the [...] Read more.
Early monastic communities in Egypt were veritable laboratories for the practice of Christian virtue; perhaps surprisingly, they were also large-scale coordinated communities of labor. That manual labor should have been part of anchoritic life is not obvious; given that hermits were leaving the cities and the usual occupations of life in the world, there might be a question as to why they would seemingly return to such occupations having sought the purity of living alone in the desert. Combining Platonic thought with radical Christianity, the monks found a way to make the maximally spiritual life also a worker’s life. The architects of this form of life saw manual labor as a means for achieving self-sustenance, an effective weapon against temptation, a resource for the support of the needy, and a vital component in the monks’ ascetic program. The argument of this paper is that this powerful cultural consensus on the centrality of work to monastic life endured for almost a thousand years before it came to be qualified, by Thomas Aquinas among others. When Thomas Aquinas writes on the purposes of manual labor he is entirely traditional. However, Aquinas ends up diminishing the extent to which the pursuit of the traditional goods gained by the practice of manual labor is obligatory for monastics. Aquinas’s discussion of manual labor as an element of monastic life is a definite departure from the tradition. In the typically polite fashion of a scholastic theologian, Aquinas shifts away from Augustine and re-interprets St. Paul in unprecedented fashion. His argument is influenced by his own commitment to a new form of monastic life, which was changing not just theologically but as a result of the evolving backdrop of the social and economic realities with which religious life necessarily interacted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Medieval Philosophy and Religious Thought)
19 pages, 311 KiB  
Article
Mobilising a Decolonial–Islamic Praxis: Covenants in Islam and Muslim–Indigenous Relations
by Halim Rane, Debbie Bargallie and Troy Meston
Religions 2024, 15(3), 365; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030365 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 1237
Abstract
Islam was an important factor in the decolonisation of Muslim countries from European colonial rule during the 19th and 20th centuries. However, Muslims are among the migrant-settler populations of Australia, Canada, the United States, and other British colonial states that continue to dispossess [...] Read more.
Islam was an important factor in the decolonisation of Muslim countries from European colonial rule during the 19th and 20th centuries. However, Muslims are among the migrant-settler populations of Australia, Canada, the United States, and other British colonial states that continue to dispossess and disenfranchise Indigenous populations. This article contributes to the debate on “decolonising Islam”. It contends that covenants with God and between people in Islam’s pre-eminent sources, the Qur’an and sunnah, are antithetical to colonialism and reinforce a praxis-orientated decolonial–Islamic agenda. This article focuses on three aspects of decolonisation, addressing: (1) supremacist ideology; (2) human existence and coexistence; and (3) claims of entitlement. Using Australia as the primary case study, it examines Islamic obligations towards Indigenous peoples in settler-colonial states, emphasising the potential of covenants to promote mutual recognition and dialogue towards redressing injustices and building respectful coexistence. Full article
12 pages, 247 KiB  
Article
Forming Preachers: An Examination of Four Homiletical Pedagogy Paradigms
by E. Trey Clark
Religions 2024, 15(3), 364; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030364 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 548
Abstract
Teaching preaching effectively in the twenty-first century requires instructors to engage a multiplicity of pedagogical approaches. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of homiletical literature that surveys diverse pedagogical paradigms and practices directly related to preaching. This article takes a step toward filling this [...] Read more.
Teaching preaching effectively in the twenty-first century requires instructors to engage a multiplicity of pedagogical approaches. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of homiletical literature that surveys diverse pedagogical paradigms and practices directly related to preaching. This article takes a step toward filling this void. Specifically, the author argues that embracing varied preaching pedagogical paradigms and practices is essential to foster a more holistic, contextually sensitive, and liberative approach to the formation of preachers. The first part of the article examines three major contemporary homiletical pedagogical approaches that attend to the formation of preachers in interrelated yet distinct ways: teacher-centered, learner-centered, and learning-centered preaching pedagogy. In the second section, building on place-based educational theory, a new paradigm is explored that the author calls place-centered preaching pedagogy. To explicate this paradigm, the article briefly considers four homileticians who, in different ways, reflect aspects of this pedagogy in their teaching: HyeRan Kim-Cragg, Frank A. Thomas, Richard W. Voelz, and Leah D. Schade. The third section offers an assessment of place-centered preaching pedagogy by examining its strengths, weaknesses, and areas for future research. The article ends with a conclusion that revisits the primary aims of the essay and calls for further exploration of the subject. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Homiletical Theory and Praxis)
25 pages, 325 KiB  
Article
Tradition and Transformation: Spirituality in Church-Related Caring Communities in a Pluralistic Society
by Annette Daniela Haussmann, Olivia Lea Odrasil, Stefanie Wiloth, Esther Hinz, Patricia Kerl, Jonathan Mylius and Kathrin Ackermann
Religions 2024, 15(3), 363; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030363 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 616
Abstract
Demographic change in aging societies makes it urgent to ask how care can be understood as a social task. This is where the concept of caring communities comes in, which understands care as a task of many, indeed, of society as a whole, [...] Read more.
Demographic change in aging societies makes it urgent to ask how care can be understood as a social task. This is where the concept of caring communities comes in, which understands care as a task of many, indeed, of society as a whole, and aims to offer mutual care in communities. While the concept has been described in theory many times, empirical studies are rare. In pluralistic Western societies, the church as an institution is becoming less important while spirituality and spiritual needs are increasing in prominence. These processes of secularization run parallel to a growing interest in spirituality and an individualization of religion. Nonetheless, church congregations have always offered a place of mutual care and lived religion that functions as a network and social resource. So far, the role of spirituality in church-related caring communities has not been sufficiently addressed. In an exploratory qualitative study of three church-related caring communities in Germany, we focus on the target group of caring relatives, of whom we interviewed nine. The results show that church-related caring communities provide important spiritual resources and rely on the basis of shared values that are closely connected to Christian convictions. However, the different understandings of care and spirituality point to the relevance of discussing the often preliminary motives and values of care. Especially in plural societies, the discourse on plural values for mutual care is important and can form a basis for caring practices such as spiritual and pastoral care. Opportunities and places to discuss and debate different and shared values underlining care practices are necessary. The potential of spiritual and pastoral care in church-related caring communities is important and needs to be further strengthened. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pastoral and Spiritual Care in Pluralistic Societies)
15 pages, 283 KiB  
Article
Redefinition and Interpretation of “Religiosity” Based on the Reflection of Buddha Nature
by Mingli Chen
Religions 2024, 15(3), 362; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030362 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 570
Abstract
Nowadays, scholars expect to measure religiosity in different ways, but these measurements run counter to the purpose for which “religiosity” was originally coined, which was to be highlighted and differentiated from “religion” under the “the crisis of modernity of religion”; so, this important [...] Read more.
Nowadays, scholars expect to measure religiosity in different ways, but these measurements run counter to the purpose for which “religiosity” was originally coined, which was to be highlighted and differentiated from “religion” under the “the crisis of modernity of religion”; so, this important concept should be redefined. However, the redefinition and analysis of religiosity needs to include the contribution of religious studies, thus correcting the bias of sociology of religion towards sociology, as well as the reflection on pluralism of religions. Among them, thinking about Buddha nature can provide a valuable reference for the redefining of “religiosity”. First of all, the discussion of Buddha nature can provide a philosophical and value-level supplement to the understanding of “religiosity”, making the originally flattened empirical interpretation three-dimensional; secondly, the reflection on Buddha nature influenced by Chinese culture can provide oriental wisdom for the definition of religiosity. For example, Chineseized Buddhist thought incorporates the traditional Chinese understanding of human nature. On the basis of the discussion of Buddha nature, it can be seen that “religiosity” has different emphases in different religions, but there are still areas of consistency under these different understandings and expressions. Thus, the redefinition of “religiosity” should both reflect these consistencies and address the reasons for the inconsistencies through a hierarchical division. Since the redefinition of “religiosity” is not only conducive to inter-religious dialogue, but also relates to the answer to a series of important questions, such as the prediction of the future of religions, its meaning needs to be updated in accordance with the changes in the times. Full article
10 pages, 181 KiB  
Article
A Case Study Method for Integrating Spirituality and Narrative Therapy
by Suzanne M. Coyle
Religions 2024, 15(3), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030361 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 666
Abstract
Theological/spiritual reflection in psychotherapeutic practice has increased in recent years. Approaches for reflection and integration vary depending on the practitioner’s spiritual and theoretical beliefs. The integrative approach utilized in this paper is derived from a phenomenological perspective of the author, who was schooled [...] Read more.
Theological/spiritual reflection in psychotherapeutic practice has increased in recent years. Approaches for reflection and integration vary depending on the practitioner’s spiritual and theoretical beliefs. The integrative approach utilized in this paper is derived from a phenomenological perspective of the author, who was schooled in pastoral theology and later family therapy. Considering the pastoral theologian Seward Hiltner’s perspectival approach, this integrative approach creates a conversational method, integrating the client’s concerns with specific narrative therapy interventions or practices and the theological/spiritual concepts of immanence–transcendence. Finally, this case study’s methodology offers constructive questions that clinical practitioners can apply to specific psychotherapy approaches as well as theological concepts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Incorporating the Sacred in Counselling)
10 pages, 210 KiB  
Article
The Meeting: Ideas for an Architecture of Interreligious Civic Collaboration
by Steven G. Smith
Religions 2024, 15(3), 360; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030360 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 544
Abstract
Interreligious engagement (IE) has been experienced and theorized mainly as the pursuit of a shared respectful awareness of the beliefs, practices, and social experiences of multiple religious communities. In rare instances, it has been possible to create architecture specifically to foster IE, as [...] Read more.
Interreligious engagement (IE) has been experienced and theorized mainly as the pursuit of a shared respectful awareness of the beliefs, practices, and social experiences of multiple religious communities. In rare instances, it has been possible to create architecture specifically to foster IE, as in the “tri-faith” Abrahamic campus in Omaha and the Berlin House of One. The theme is: Here we are, accepting that we share the world. Another form of IE that deserves to attract more interest is multireligious collaboration in civic work (addressing homelessness, urban blight, illiteracy, etc.). Some adherents of the intrinsically cosmopolitan “world” religions are actively cosmopolitan to the extent of seeking this engagement. The theme is: Let us share the work of the world, including sharing our religiously inflected processing of what the practical issues facing us are. There is a new initiative of this sort in my city, Jackson, Mississippi, named (from M. L. King) the “Beloved Community”. An architectural thought experiment may prove helpful in articulating the ideals for such an endeavor. What would be the physical desiderata for its headquarters? Let us imagine a new downtown building, The Meeting, dedicated to housing meetings where mixed religious groups learn about civic issues and coordinate efforts to address them. Full interreligious sharing of a space seems to require a neutral design lacking any definite religious inspiration. But there are nonsectarian ways to create an appreciably special, non-ordinary space, as in courtrooms and classrooms. Could a civic IE headquarters be special, expressive of practical optimism, and contain a sufficient religious allusion to qualify as a “next-to-sacred space” in which religious actors felt supported in the civic extension of their religious lives? I offer suggestions for discussion, including (1) a pavilion-style building suggestive of being set up for a special purpose—not soaringly grandiose but with a vertical feature such as a central roof lantern; (2) at least one major porch, with benches and tables; (3) an outside water fountain with public water supply (a historical allusion to the Islamic sabil); (4) inside, right-sized meeting rooms around the glass-walled periphery; (5) a big “living room” lounge in the center, usable for larger meetings, with access to a kitchen, and with a big project board for tracking work completed and work in hand next to a large map of the city; (6) a moderate descent of several steps into each meeting room so that there is a feeling of commitment in attending a meeting and a sense of challenge in going forth from one; (7) otherwise a main floor levelness and openness facilitating movement in and out, as in a train station; and (8) upstairs small offices for religious and other qualifying organizations. Answering the aesthetic and practical questions these suggestions raise takes us into imagining civic IE more concretely. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Inter-Religious Encounters in Architecture and Other Public Art)
18 pages, 307 KiB  
Article
Yoga and the “Pure Muhammadi Path” of Muhammad Nasir ‘Andalib
by Soraya Khodamoradi and Carl Ernst
Religions 2024, 15(3), 359; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030359 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 635
Abstract
This article addresses the question of how early modern Sufis dealt with yoga. Some scholars have argued that a movement of Sufi reform occurred in South Asia during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, representing a shift towards legal Islam, which would call for [...] Read more.
This article addresses the question of how early modern Sufis dealt with yoga. Some scholars have argued that a movement of Sufi reform occurred in South Asia during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, representing a shift towards legal Islam, which would call for the rejection of non-Islamic practices. This explanation overlooks the rhetorical construction of Sufi claims of spiritual status and shari‘a legitimacy, and it fails to distinguish eighteenth-century examples from the very different reform movements created in the nineteenth century in response to European colonialism. This article considers as a case study Nala-yi ‘Andalib (“The Nightingale’s Lament”), the central text produced by the pre-colonial founder of the “pure Muhammadi path”, Muhammad Nasir ‘Andalib (d. 1758), with the help of intertextual references to the masterpiece of his son, Khwaja Mir Dard (d. 1785), ‘Ilm al-Kitab (“Knowledge of the Book”). The consequence of their evaluation of yoga was not the systematic rejection of non-Islamic practices, but a guarded acknowledgement of their efficacy within a framework that used Indic references as a straw man for intra-Islamic debates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sufism in the Modern World)
10 pages, 223 KiB  
Article
Good News for the Oppressed? Exploring the Spiritual, Political, and Intercultural Dimensions of Howard Thurman’s Philosophy
by Aizaiah G. Yong
Religions 2024, 15(3), 358; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030358 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 842
Abstract
This paper centers on the godfather of the civil rights movement, Howard Thurman, and his most influential work, “Jesus and the Disinherited”, as a pre-eminent text into early 20th century intercultural philosophy. Building upon Kipton Jensen’s analysis in “Howard Thurman: [...] Read more.
This paper centers on the godfather of the civil rights movement, Howard Thurman, and his most influential work, “Jesus and the Disinherited”, as a pre-eminent text into early 20th century intercultural philosophy. Building upon Kipton Jensen’s analysis in “Howard Thurman: Philosophy, Civil Rights, and the Search for Common Ground”, this presentation will reframe Howard Thurman’s unique philosophy as one that integrates spirituality, interculturality, and critical social analysis. It is well known that Thurman’s treatise on the oppressed was carried in the pocket of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. throughout the civil rights movement for the ways it empowered nonviolent resistance for those marginalized by the dominant culture of the United States, which was (and still is) built on racism, military violence, and class-based oppression. This paper advocates that Thurman came to his philosophical conclusions through deep engagement with various cultural and philosophical traditions, most notably the Hindu spiritual–political paradigm of Mahatma Gandhi, and sought to harmonize these insights for African Americans in the USA. By investigating the intercultural foundations of “Jesus and the Disinherited”, this paper will encourage scholars to explore how interculturality enriched Thurman’s philosophy and how this fostered a more expansive vision of community in pluralistic societies. This article traces the roots of the development of “Jesus and the Disinherited”, looking back to presentations Thurman gave as early as 1922, concluding with the publication of his book in 1949. And via this study, we will see the progression of Thurman’s ideas and the impacts interculturality had on his philosophy and vision for social justice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mysticism and Social Justice)
14 pages, 239 KiB  
Article
Earth-Bound Preaching: Engaging Scripture, Context, and Indigenous Wisdom
by HyeRan Kim-Cragg
Religions 2024, 15(3), 357; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030357 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 671
Abstract
In developing an Earth-bound homiletics, three homiletical movements are suggested: engaging Scripture, engaging global and local situatedness, and engaging the Indigenous worldview of “all my relations” by tapping into Indigenous knowledge. These three movements need not take place in any chronological order, nor [...] Read more.
In developing an Earth-bound homiletics, three homiletical movements are suggested: engaging Scripture, engaging global and local situatedness, and engaging the Indigenous worldview of “all my relations” by tapping into Indigenous knowledge. These three movements need not take place in any chronological order, nor should they be seen as a hierarchy. Rather, they are complementary and interconnected. The author, before articulating these movements, offers reasons for why the topic of the climate crisis is not preached on and then addresses the challenge of selecting biblical texts, delineating the strengths and weaknesses of using the lectionary readings versus a preacher’s individual choices. The article further addresses the danger of biblical literalists who deny global warming. Each homiletical movement will be elaborated using actual sermons as concrete examples of Earth-bound homiletics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Homiletical Theory and Praxis)
23 pages, 337 KiB  
Article
Teaching and Learning Principles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: A Thematic Analysis of the Doctrine and Covenants
by Isaac Calvert, Sabrina Bengtzen and Jessica Ashcraft
Religions 2024, 15(3), 356; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030356 - 18 Mar 2024
Viewed by 578
Abstract
This article presents pedagogic principles prescribed in the text of the Doctrine and Covenants, a foundational book of scripture from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Following a qualitative, thematic analysis of the text, we organized the data into seven [...] Read more.
This article presents pedagogic principles prescribed in the text of the Doctrine and Covenants, a foundational book of scripture from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Following a qualitative, thematic analysis of the text, we organized the data into seven themes: character of God as a teacher, learning as the pursuit of truth, attributes of a teacher and learner, warnings in seeking light and truth, learning methods, teaching methods, and non-compulsory teaching and learning. Most noteworthy among these themes is the text’s description of learning as the pursuit of embodied ontological truth and the fundamental questions it raises about the nature of compulsion in learning. Full article
14 pages, 241 KiB  
Article
Goethe’s Platonic Natural Philosophy: How Goethean Science Provides an Alternative Conception of the Cosmos
by Seth P. Hart
Religions 2024, 15(3), 355; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030355 - 17 Mar 2024
Viewed by 609
Abstract
While popularly known for his works of literature and poetry, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe viewed his lesser-known scientific pieces as his most enduring achievement. I will argue that Goethe’s unique scientific methodology is informed by a metaphysical commitment to a form of Platonism [...] Read more.
While popularly known for his works of literature and poetry, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe viewed his lesser-known scientific pieces as his most enduring achievement. I will argue that Goethe’s unique scientific methodology is informed by a metaphysical commitment to a form of Platonism and that Goethe provides an intriguing alternative paradigm that unifies science, philosophy, theology, and ethics. I begin by demonstrating how Goethe’s concept of the Urphänomen offers a Platonic conception of natural beings. I then briefly outline how this alternative scientific approach ultimately derives from his Platonic commitments. Next, I demonstrate the ethical and spiritual implications of Goethean science, establishing that Goethe’s approach bridges the divide between our scientific endeavors and spiritual formation. There is, then, a continued relevance for Goethe in conversations regarding ecological ethics and our perception of nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Platonic Tradition, Nature Spirituality and the Environment)
14 pages, 286 KiB  
Article
Cultural and Theological Influences on Religious Engagement with Digital Media during COVID-19: A Comparative Study of Churches in Poland and Ireland
by Marta Kołodziejska, Sławomir Mandes and Katarzyna Rabiej-Sienicka
Religions 2024, 15(3), 354; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030354 - 15 Mar 2024
Viewed by 586
Abstract
This article investigates how cultural context and theological ideas shape the integration of digital media in religious practices. Focusing on Poland and Northern Ireland/The Republic of Ireland, we explore the diverse strategies employed by religious institutions in utilizing digital media. The study centers [...] Read more.
This article investigates how cultural context and theological ideas shape the integration of digital media in religious practices. Focusing on Poland and Northern Ireland/The Republic of Ireland, we explore the diverse strategies employed by religious institutions in utilizing digital media. The study centers on the Catholic Church, analyzing its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in different cultural contexts. Examining various denominations specific to each country, we highlight the role of theological assumptions in shaping the use of digital platforms within religious contexts. This comparative analysis provides insight into the complex interplay between culture, theology, and technology, contributing to the understanding of how religious institutions adapt to societal changes and navigate the digital landscape. Our findings reflect the theological controversies of shifting religious practices and services to digital media, and point to the non-voluntary aspect of adjusting to the pressures of deep mediatization in both cultural contexts. Full article
14 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
The Native Clergy in Portuguese America: The Presence of Descendants of Indians and Africans in the Secular Clergy (c. 1670–c. 1820)
by Anderson José Machado De Oliveira
Religions 2024, 15(3), 353; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030353 - 14 Mar 2024
Viewed by 544
Abstract
This article conducts an analytical overview of the controversies and acts that resulted in the formation of a native clergy in Portuguese America. The analysis is limited to the secular clergy and the ways by which descendants of Africans and Indians were incorporated [...] Read more.
This article conducts an analytical overview of the controversies and acts that resulted in the formation of a native clergy in Portuguese America. The analysis is limited to the secular clergy and the ways by which descendants of Africans and Indians were incorporated into this segment of the Church. The author addresses the way parts of these groups developed strategies to access the priesthood, seeking to escape subaltern positions and consolidating processes of social mobility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious History in Portugal)
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