Religions is an international, interdisciplinary, open access journal on religions and theology, published monthly online by Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). MDPI's Editorial Office is in Basel, Switzerland.


The library contains articles of Religions as of vol. 1(2010) to current.

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  • Heidegger as Levinas’s Guide to Judaism beyond Philosophy

    Elad Lapidot (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    This essay reflects on the way that Emmanuel Levinas stages the difference between Judaism and Philosophy, namely how he approaches Jewish thought as a concrete other of philosophy. The claim is that this mise en scène underlies Levinas’s oeuvre not only as a discourse about the Other, but as a real scene of an actual encounter with otherness, namely the encounter of philosophy with the epistemic otherness of Judaism. It is in the turn to Jewish thought beyond Philosophy that the essay identifies Heidegger’s strongest influence on Levinas. The essay’s reflection is performed through a reading of Levinas’s first major philosophical work of 1961, Totality and Infinity. The encounter between Philosophy and Judaism is explored in this context both as an epistemic and as a political event.
  • Religious, but Not Spiritual: A Constructive Proposal

    J. Aaron Simmons (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    Often the debates in philosophy of religion are quite disconnected from the empirical data gathered in the sociology of religion. This is especially the case regarding the recent increase in prominence of those identifying as “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) within an American context. In the attempt to bring these two fields into productive conversation, this essay offers a constructive account of the SBNR in terms of what they reject (i.e., their status as “not religious”) and also what they affirm (i.e., their identity as “spiritual”). In brief, the suggestion is that the SBNR do not reject theism or even common “religious” practices, but instead reject a particular mode of “religion” that is grounded in an authoritative and insular social presence. Alternatively, the SBNR at least seem to affirm a notion of “spirituality” that is broadly consistent with the idea found in historical Christian traditions. After surveying the empirical data and offering a new phenomenological analysis of it, the essay concludes with a suggestion that we need a new category—“religious, but not spiritual” (RBNS)—in order best to make sense of how the SBNR signify in relation to specific hermeneutic contexts and sociopolitical frameworks.
  • The Sovereignty of Humanity and Social Responsibility for Evil Prevention

    Janusz Salamon (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    In this paper, I suggest that James Sterba’s recent restatement of the logical problem of evil overlooks a plausible theistic interpretation of the divine–human relation, which allows for a theodicy impervious to his atheological argument, which boils down to God’s failure to meet Sterba’s “Evil Prevention Requirements”. I argue that such requirements need not apply to God in a world under full human sovereignty, which presupposes that God never intervenes to change the natural course of events to prevent evils, as God has a decisive “greater good justification” for not intervening, namely respecting human sovereignty. This non-interventionist view of divine providence can be made tenable by the great good and dignity of the God-granted human God-like self-creativity implied by human sovereignty (a concept inspired by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola). The Mirandolian theodicy can both accommodate and complement Dostoyevsky’s Russian Orthodox view of “beneficial suffering”, predicated against the background of the conception of “collective selfhood”, overlooked by Sterba despite “featuring” on the cover of his book, no doubt due to his libertarian–individualistic assumptions about human agency and human flourishing, which a proponent of a theistic theodicy may do well to resist.
  • A Virtual Dialogue between Gandhi and Levinas

    Ephraim Meir (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    Mahatma Gandhi and Emmanuel Levinas have much in common. They interpret religion in a radical ethical way and develop an ethical hermeneutics of religious sources. Levinas’s thoughts on a holy history, not to be confused with history, are comparable with Gandhi’s <i>swaraj</i> as the spiritual independence and self-transformation of India. Escaping war logics, they maintain a “beyond the state” in the state and insert ethics in politics. Yet, Gandhi’s ethico-politics works with radical interrelatedness, whereas Levinas differentiates more between the self and the other. Gandhi trusted that, in the end, the good would vanquish evil. Levinas, in turn, did not venture into the future: the present was under “eschatological judgment.” Gandhi’s love of the enemy and his attempt to soften the opponent’s heart are absent in Levinas’s metaphysics. In addition, Levinas does not radically deconstruct the term self-defense, although Gandhi notoriously made also exceptions to his <i>ahimsa</i>. A dialogue can be established between Levinas’s ethical metaphysics and Gandhi’s <i>ahimsa</i> and <i>satyagraha</i>. Both thinkers make a radical critique of a peace based on rational contracts and equate peace with universal brother- and sisterhood. Without underestimating the many similarities between Levinas and Gandhi, I also highlight their dissimilarities. I argue that precisely the differences between both thinkers allow for a “trans-different” dialogue, which respects specificities and promotes communication, in a movement of hospitality and mutual learning.
  • The Epistemic Parity of Religious-Apologetic and Religion-Debunking Responses to the Cognitive Science of Religion

    Walter Scott Stepanenko (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    Recent work in the cognitive science of religion has challenged some of the explanatory assumptions of previous research in the field. Nonetheless, some of the practitioners of the new cognitive science of religion theorize in the same skeptical spirit as their predecessors and either imply or explicitly claim that their projects undermine the warrant of religious beliefs. In this article, I argue that these theories do no additional argumentative work when compared to previous attempts to debunk religious belief and that these recent debunking efforts are very much motivated by methodological commitments that are shared with canonical research. I contend that these argumentative strategies put debunkers very much on an epistemic par with religious apologists: both advocate responses to the cognitive science of religion that are primarily motivated by methodological commitments.
  • ‘A Most Select Gathering’. Mexican National Pilgrimages to Rome during the Papacy of Leo XIII

    Francisco Javier Ramón Solans (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    The objective of this article is to analyse Mexican national pilgrimages to Rome that took place during the pontificate of Leo XIII (1878–1903). These pilgrimages occurred in the context of a global Catholic mobilisation in support of the papacy, during the so-called Roman Question. This paper’s analysis of these pilgrimages draws from historiography about national pilgrimages, as well as studies on Catholic mobilisation in support of the pope in the second half of the nineteenth century. It is fundamentally based on primary sources of an official nature, such as reports and other printed documents produced on the occasion of the pilgrimage. The study’s primary conclusion is that national pilgrimages to Rome had a polysemic character since they brought together various religious and national identities. The pilgrimages contributed simultaneously to reinforcing the link between Catholicism and Mexican national identity and the global dimension of Catholicism and allegiance to the Holy See.
  • Secularist Humanism, Law and Religion in Ian McEwan’s <i>The Children Act</i>

    Camil Ungureanu (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    Ian McEwan’s <i>The Children Act</i> focuses on a real-life conflict between religion and children’s rights in a pluralist society. By drawing on Charles Taylor’s work on religion in the “secular age”, I argue that McEwan’s narrative is ultimately built on secularist assumptions that devalue religious experience. McEwan’s approach aims to build a bridge between literary imagination and scientific rationality: religion is, from this perspective, reducible to a “fable” and an authority structure incongruous with legal rationality and the quest for meaning in the modern-secular society. In <i>The Children Act</i>, art substitutes religion and its aspiration to transcendence: music in particular is a universal idiom that can overcome barriers of communication and provides “ecstatic” experiences in a godless world.
  • Jesus “The Way” According to Origen and Marcellus: Confronting Two Patristic Traditions

    Samuel Fernández (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    The article aims to examine and compare the evangelic title of Jesus the Way (John 14:6) in two Christian authors who belonged to two opposing theological traditions, namely, Origen of Alexandria and Marcellus of Ancyra. This comparison, based on original texts, aims not only to show the differences between these two patristic traditions, but rather to identify some common traits that belong to the core of Christian faith. Thus, Origen of Alexandria and Marcellus of Ancyra, two very dissimilar Christian authors, were of the same mind in confessing that only if the Son of God became fully human, could he be the Way for humankind towards the Father.
  • Christianity and Slavic Folk Culture: The Mechanisms of Their Interaction

    Svetlana M. Tolstaya (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    In Slavic folk culture, Christianity is a foreign, borrowed cultural model, while the oral tradition is native and familiar. The different areas of folk culture were influenced to varying degrees by the Christian tradition. The most dependent area of Slavic folk culture on Christianity was the calendar. In many cases, it only superficially accepted the Christian content of calendar elements and reinterpreted it in accordance with the traditional mythological notions. The same can be said about the folk cult of saints. The Christian saints replaced pagan gods and over time were included in the system of folk ideas, beliefs and rituals. The mechanism for regulating the balance between man and the world is a system of prohibitions, the violation of which is recognized as sin and is punished by natural disasters, death, disease and human misfortunes. The Slavic folk tradition adapted not only the individual elements, structures and semantic categories of Christianity, but also the whole texts, plots, motifs, and themes developed in various folklore genres. Therefore, the pre-Christian folk tradition of the Slavs was able to assimilate many Christian concepts, symbols, and texts, translate them into its own language and fill them with its own content.
  • Religiously Disaffiliated, Religiously Indifferent, or Believers without Religion? Morphology of the Unaffiliated in Argentina

    Juan Cruz Esquivel (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    This article aims to characterize the socioeconomic and demographic profile of the population without religious affiliation in Argentina as well as their beliefs, practices, and attitudes toward a range of issues related to public and private life. This is a social conglomerate that has grown exponentially in the region and worldwide, but it has been little explored by the social sciences of religion in Latin America. The research was based on the Second National Survey on Religious Beliefs and Attitudes in Argentina, which was carried out in 2019. The study universe was made up of the population of the Argentine Republic aged 18 years or more, living in localities or urban agglomerations with at least 5000 inhabitants. A total of 2421 cases were selected through a multistage sampling. The analysis of the data reveals that it would be inaccurate to say that the religiously unaffiliated do not convey religious beliefs. Almost three out of 10 (most of those who responded do not belong to any religion but neither defined themselves as agnostics or atheists) believe in God and in Jesus Christ. Given that they are the most numerous sub-group and with the highest growth rate within the religiously unaffiliated, it would be unwise to consider this fringe of the Argentine citizenry as a-religious. Nor can we unify them under the category of disaffiliates. Although six out of 10 have a history identified with some religion (and in those cases, it is indeed possible to observe a process of religious disaffiliation), the remaining 40% show paths defined by the alienation from the institutionalized religious spaces since their earliest age.
  • Nature, Spirit, and Spirituality in Husserl’s Phenomenology

    María Celeste Vecino (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    This article deals with the relationship between Spirit (<i>Geist</i>) and Nature (<i>Natur</i>) in Husserl’s phenomenology and the potentially religious motifs involved in its treatment. I begin by outlining two different approaches that can be found in Husserl’s work regarding the dyad Nature-Spirit: firstly, a schematic opposition between the two, and secondly, the recognition of their fundamental intertwinement. I claim that, even in this second approach, there remains a sense of subordination of Nature to Spirit that is due to the transcendental character of Husserl’s phenomenology. I analyze this primacy in the context of Husserl’s monadological theory, bringing forward certain religious elements of his account in order to connect this notion of spirit to a more contemporary idea of spirituality.
  • The Making of a Marian Geography of Grace for Greek Catholics in the Polish Crownlands of the 17th–18th Centuries

    Dieter Stern (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    This article explores the ways in which the newly founded and highly contested Christian confession of the Greek Catholics or Uniates employed strategies of mass mobilization to establish and maintain their position within a contested confessional terrain. The Greek Catholic clerics, above all monks of the Basilian order fostered an active policy of acquiring, founding and promoting Marian places of grace in order to create and invigorate a sense of belonging among their flock. The article argues that folk ideological notions concerning the spatial and physical conditions for the working of miracles were seized upon by the Greek Catholic faithful to establish a mental map of grace of their own. Especially, the Basilian order took particular care to organize mass events (annual pilgrimages, coronation celebrations for miraculous images) and promote Marian devotion through miracle reports and icon songs in an attempt to define what it means to be a Greek Catholic in terms of sacred territoriality.
  • On the Personhood of Sacred Objects: Agency, Materiality and Popular Devotion in the Roman Catholic Philippines

    Julius Bautista (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    This paper is an analysis of the Santo Niño de Cebu, a statue of the child Jesus that is the object of widespread popular devotion among Roman Catholics in the Philippines. The central hypothesis is that a continuing challenge of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines, at least from the perspective of the institutional Church, lies not in the extra liturgical performance of its rituals, but rather in the popular belief that sacred objects possess agency and personhood. The discussion of this theme unfolds over three analytical movements. The focus of the initial section is on the historical context in which the Santo Niño became established as the preeminent religious and cultural icon of the Philippines, going as far back as the sixteenth century. The discussion shifts to the topic of the agency of material objects, as cultivated in the performance of three embodied rituals conducted by thousands of Santo Niño devotees. A third analytical movement is the examination of how popular belief in the Santo Niño’s agency intersects with the institutional reforms of the Second Vatican Council, particularly as locally contextualized and enacted in the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) in 1991.
  • Introduction to Special Issue: The Mutual Influence of Religion and Science in the Human Understanding and Exploration of Outer Space

    Deana L. Weibel; Glen E. Swanson (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    When considering the exploration of outer space people typically think about technology, engineering, physics, and the use of the scientific method to understand what is out there, beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, from the nearby Moon to distant galaxies only visible through the use of high-powered telescopes [...]
  • Between Basilea and Utopia: Exploring the Impact of Kingdom Theology in US Latinx Pentecostalism

    Juan C. Morales (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    This article is a general exploration of US Latinx Pentecostalism’s explicit and implicit theology of the Kingdom of God and how it can contribute to US Latinx Pentecostalism’s socio-political engagement. An overview will be provided of traditional, US Pentecostal Kingdom theology and Kingdom theology in Latin American Liberation Theology. These will be contrasted with US Latinx Pentecostal perspectives. To locate US Latinx Pentecostal theology of the Kingdom of God, this paper will first provide a wide-ranging description of a traditional evangelical hermeneutical process. Afterward, an understanding of the Kingdom that is generally taught and accepted in most evangelical contexts will be discussed. This will be followed by a survey of dominant US Pentecostal theology of the Kingdom of God through the lens of the Assemblies of God doctrinal statements and Pentecostal scholars. The life and work of various Pentecostal ministers and author Piri Thomas will provide a Kingdom perspective of US Latinx Pentecostal practitioners. I will provide an analysis based on their life experiences and some of their writings. The writings of Orlando Costas will set the stage in order to examine the works of other US Latinx Pentecostal scholars. Thereafter, the theologies of Latin American Liberation Theologians Clodivis and Leonardo Boff and others will be surveyed. Before concluding, the article will provide a historical overview of Latinx Pentecostal social engagement in the northeast US with the goal of identifying Kingdom values and priorities.
  • Divine ‘Pastness’ and the Creation of Hope: The Significance of the <i>Sepultus est…</i>

    Mark R. Lindsay (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    This article explores Karl Barth’s exegesis of the ‘<i>sepultus est…</i>’ from the Apostles’ Creed, as articulated in his 1935 <i>Credo</i> lectures. I argue that Barth accords the <i>sepultus</i> a degree of theological significance that is against the grain, not only of the majority of western interpretations of Jesus’s burial, but also of his own later interpretation of it within his <i>Kirchliche Dogmatik</i>. Specifically, this article argues that in his 1935 lectures, Barth exegetes the <i>sepultus</i> in terms of a divine self-surrender to the ‘pure pastness’ that is the ‘state and fate’ of all humanity. As a consequence, the <i>sepultus</i> can then be used as the pivot to a different, and more hopeful, future.
  • The Prophet Muḥammad’s Covenant with Yūḥannah Ibn Ru’bah and the Christians of Aylah

    Abdalrahman Abulmajd (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    This article examines the Prophet Muḥammad’s covenant with Yūḥannah, Prince of Aylah, and illustrates the role it plays in understanding religious pluralism and civil rights as envisioned in Prophet Muḥammad’s dream of a “Muslim Nation”. The article also briefly makes use of other covenants contracted between the Prophet and other Arab Christian tribes. The covenants reveal Prophet Muḥammad’s desire for religious pluralism and the granting of rights to all people, regardless of religion, creed, or personal practices. Although Prophet Muḥammad’s covenants with the Christians of his time are used as a framework of analysis in this article, these documents have not received as much attention as they deserve, as few researchers in our time have shown interest in them. Early manuscripts and historical sources, both Arab and Western, are referenced in order to explore the circumstances and consequences of these early correspondences between Islam’s final Prophet and contemporary Arab Christians. The findings of this investigation are significant in that the covenants serve as critical milestones and reminders in light of current discussions about relations between Muslims and Christians. The contents of the covenants can also be used as models for improving relations between Muslims and Christians in religiously diverse communities the world over.
  • Correcting Acedia through Wonder and Gratitude

    Brandon Dahm (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    In the capital vices tradition, acedia was fought through perseverance and manual labor. In this paper, I argue that we can also fight acedia through practicing wonder and gratitude. I show this through an account of moral formation developed out of the insight of the virtues and vices traditions that character traits affect how we see things. In the first section, I use Robert Roberts’s account of emotions to explain a mechanism by which virtues and vices affect vision and thus moral formation. Then, by looking at the capital vices tradition, I argue that restless boredom is a primary construal of the vice of acedia. Third, I explain wonder and gratitude through the work of G.K. Chesterton and Roberts, respectively. In light of their accounts, I explain how the construals of wonder and gratitude are contrary to the construal of acedia. Finally, I offer some practices that encourage gratitude and wonder.
  • Establishing Lineage Legitimacy and Building Labrang Monastery as “the Source of Dharma”: Jikmed Wangpo (1728–1791) Taking the Helm

    Rinchen Dorje (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    The eighteenth century witnessed the continuity of Geluk growth in Amdo from the preceding century. Geluk inspiration and legacy from Central Tibet and the accompanying political patronage emanating from the Manchus, Mongols, and local Tibetans figured prominently as the engine behind the Geluk influence that swept Amdo. The Geluk rise in the region resulted from contributions made by native Geluk Buddhists. Amdo native monks are, however, rarely treated with as much attention as they deserve for cultivating extensive networks of intellectual transmission, reorienting and shaping the school’s future. I therefore propose that we approach Geluk hegemony and their broad initiatives in the region with respect to the school’s intellectual and cultural order and native Amdo Buddhist monks’ role in shaping Geluk history in Amdo and beyond in Tibet. Such a focus highlights their impact in shaping the trajectory of Geluk history in Tibet and Amdo in particular. The historical and biographical literature dealing with the life of Jikmed Wangpo affords us a rare window into the pivotal time when every effort was made to cultivate a vast network of institutions and masters across Tibet. This further spurred an institutional growth of Buddhist transmission, constructing authenticity and authority thereof, as they were closely tied to reincarnation lineage, intellectual traditions, and monastic institutions. In doing so, we also have a good grasp of the creation processes of Geluk luminaries such as Jikmed Wangpo, an exemplar scholar and visionary who faced great opposition from issues with his lineage legitimation at Labrang and among the larger Geluk community.
  • Religious and Spiritual Trends among Female Students of Different Ethnic Origins and Fields of Study at a Secular Academic College in Israel

    Anat Feldman; Dikla Barak (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
    The current study examined trends regarding religion and spirituality among Jewish and Bedouin female students studying education and sciences at Achva Academic College, a rural secular college in southern Israel. The Bedouin women all originated from an isolationist traditional society, vigilantly maintained over many years. Contrastingly, the Jewish women come from a secular or traditional society, which is not isolationist. Science and education are two completely different worlds of content. Science studies include analytical research, with the students carrying out experiments in laboratories and within the community, whereas education studies focus on pedagogy and transfer of knowledge. The study employed a questionnaire with Likert items regarding religion and spirituality. We found the Bedouin students were more religious than the Jewish ones, but spirituality levels were similar. This finding indicated that the Bedouin students have indeed broken down the barriers to academic education, but still have retained their traditional community framework. Likewise, we found that the students of science were less observant of religious practices in comparison to those studying education, but they were similar regarding spirituality and the theoretical aspects of religion. This finding showed that practical aspects of religion can be a factor influencing the choice of field of study.

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