Wilfred Cantwell Smith: World Theology

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International Islamic University, Islamabad
Faculty of Islamic Studies (Usuluddin)
Department of Comparative Religion

Midterm Assignment

Comparative Theology
M.Phil. Programme

Ayesha Qurrat_ul_ain

Department of Comparative Religions,
Faculty of Usuluddin
International Islamic University,
Islamabad, Pakistan.

Table of Contents

1Chapter 11

Introduction to Wilfred Cantwell Smith1

1.2Books and Research Articles2
1.2.1"Islam in Modern History"3
1.2.2"On Understanding Islam"3
1.2.3"Faith and Belief"3
1.2.4"The Meaning and End of Religion"3
1.2.5"Towards a World Theology"4
1.2.6"What is Scripture?"4
1.3Major Ideas5
1.3.1History of Religion5
1.3.2Comparative Religions6
1.3.3Theory of religion8
1.3.4Christian mission9

2Chapter 212

Smith's Contribution to Theology of Religion12

2.1Smith and Christian theology12
2.1.1What theology is?13
2.1.2No room for exlusivism13
2.1.3New concept of salvation14
2.1.4Need for a revival15
2.2Constructing a world theology15
2.2.3Cumulative tradition17




In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. Transcendence is a universal theme of human history. Whether we name it or not, it has influenced and shaped the course of human lives always. Theology is an intellectual systemization of human comprehension of nature of transcendent reality. So, in every age the content of theology must vary because of being subjected to the evolution in comprehension of the transcendence and this does happen resulting into the emergence of various theological approaches. World theology of religion is also an outcome of this vibrant and dynamic process and Wilfred Cantwell Smith is one of the key-theologians contributions to this virgin field. This research paper is primarily concerned with the academic carrier of Cantwell Smith and his contribution to "theology of religion". I have divided the paper into two chapters. The first chapter is a brief overview of Smith's biography, his writings and major ideas regarding different themes whereas the second chapter is an elaboration of his model of world theology as well as his contribution to Christian theology. So, this is an attempt to categorize Smith's intellectual endeavors as well as to assimilate his innovative ideas. My basic sources, while writing, are Smith's own writings and lectures. So, it is an endeavor to analyze and categorize Smith's thoughts the way I perceived them to be. So, the paper would be surely subjected to intellectual and categorical errors and misunderstandings of what Smith originally meant to say. But I hope it to be a beneficial reading to comprehend the key-concepts and expect my mentor to guide me further in this regard. May Allah accept my effort and make it fruitful for Muslim Ummah (amin).

Chapter 1

Introduction to Wilfred Cantwell Smith

1 Biography

Wilfred Cantwell Smith is one of the renowned scholars of religious studies in the 20th century. His pieces of work are wide ranging from history to theology and from western religious studies to oriental languages and cultures. He was born in Toronto in 1916 and spent his early life there seeking early education from Upper Canada College Toronto. He earned his B.A Honors degree in 1938 in Oriental languages from Toronto University and traveled to Cambridge for a two year study program about theology and oriental languages at Westminster College. Afterwards he traveled to Lahore and spent four year teaching Indian and Islamic history at Forman Christian College...
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