Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wilfred Cantwell Smith on the difference between outsider and insider perspectives

"The external observer's awareness is different from that of the engagé participant. A relationship of which you stand at one end, with your whole personality and perhaps your eternal destiny at stake, and at the other end stands God, crushingly overwhelming in His majesty and frightening in His imperious demands and yet utterly winsome in His unfrustratable love and concern for you as a person--this is a very different matter from those relationships that you may write down in your notebook as you observe other people's exotic behaviour, or even that you may infer from a careful study of others' symbols which, even if you finally come to understand their meaning, do not reach out and lay hold upon your life." - Wilfred Cantwell Smith, The Meaning and End of Religion (1963; repr. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991), 130.


Isaac said...

What did you think of the first few chapters? I particularly enjoyed when he went through Augustine, Calvin, etc.

d. miller said...

The first few chapters were the main reason I read the book. I need to review them again. Very impressive command of Latin and Greek, German and French for a specialist in Islam. I found his sensitive interaction with issues in Islam fascinating too.