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Against Dogmatism

Dwelling in Faith and Doubt

Madhuri Yadlapati

Publication Year: 2013

Many contemporary discussions of religion take an absolute, intractable approach to belief and non-belief, which privileges faith and dogmatism while treating doubt as a threat to religious values. As Madhuri M. Yadlapati demonstrates, however, there is another way: a faith (or non-faith) that embraces doubt and its potential for exploring both the depths and heights of spiritual reflection and speculation. Through three distinct discussions of faith, doubt, and hope, Yadlapati explores what it means to live creatively and responsibly in the everyday world as limited, imaginative, and questioning creatures. She begins with a perceptive survey of diverse faith experiences in Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Protestant Christianity, then narrows her focus to Protestant Christianity and Hinduism to explore how the great thinkers of those faiths have embraced doubt in the service of spiritual transcendence. Defending the rich tapestry of faith and doubt against polarization, Against Dogmatism reveals a spiritual middle way, an approach native to the long-standing traditions in which faith and doubt are interwoven in constructive and dynamic ways.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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Introduction: Beyond Fundamentalism and Atheism

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pp. 1-12

As a student of the world’s religious traditions, I have always been intrigued with the intricate ways in which doubt functions to enrich faith. And yet, while the close interplay of doubt and faith is so manifestly found in the writings of the most enlightening religious thinkers and in different traditions..

Part One. Re-examining Faith in Action

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1. Postures of Trust

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pp. 15-34

Medieval Christian theologians drew a telling distinction between fides qua, the act of faith or trust in God, and fides quae, the specific content of belief statements. The former refers to the experience of having faith, of trusting in God, of recognizing the world as God’s world. The latter refers to what...

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2. What Is Our Sacred Responsibility in the World?

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pp. 35-64

This second chapter examines four particular ways in which faith has been expressed as a commitment to one’s responsibilities vis-à-vis one’s community and God. It extends the discussion of the first chapter, as the commitment to a certain path or a sense of religious responsibility emerges from...

Part Two. The Centrality of Doubt

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3. Christian Faith and the Protestant Principle

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pp. 67-96

This chapter takes a closer look at three figures whose discussions of faith are among the most influential in twentieth-century Christian theology. Two, Paul Tillich and Karl Barth, are twentieth-century Christian theologians and one, Søren Kierkegaard, is a nineteenth-century philosopher, but all three...

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4. Faith and Transcendence in Hindu Traditions

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pp. 97-120

Virtually every text on Hinduism begins with a disclaimer that what we call “Hinduism” is not one uniform tradition, but an extremely loose yet cohesive set of widely varying beliefs and practices of the peoples traditionally of the Indian subcontinent.1 Hinduism can be immensely challenging for a...

Part Three. Reconciling Ways of Faith and Doubt

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5. Resisting the Reification of Religion

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pp. 123-146

In The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky presents a provocative situation in a section titled “The Grand Inquisitor.” Christ returns and faces questioning by the Grand Inquisitor, who demands to know why he has returned. The church had been set up in Christ’s absence, and now this return...

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6. Faith and Hope for the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 147-170

The preceding chapters of this book have drawn out more complicated models with which to think about religious faith and doubt. The weight of focus has been on fairly orthodox elements of Christian and Hindu theological traditions. Theological tradition can be understood as an ongoing...

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Conclusion: Dwelling in Uncertainty

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pp. 171-174

The focus throughout this book has been the many dynamic ways in which faith has been described in different traditions. My concern has been to call attention to the resources within our world’s abiding religious traditions for a conception of faith that counters a blind acceptance of something that is...


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pp. 175-196

Index, About the Author

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pp. 197-206

E-ISBN-13: 9780252095207
E-ISBN-10: 0252095200
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252037948

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013