The Spirit of Contradiction in Christianity and Buddhism by Hugh Nicholson

The Spirit of Contradiction in Christianity and Buddhism

byHugh Nicholson

Hardcover | March 15, 2016

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The cognitive science of religion has shown that abstract religious concepts within many established religious traditions often fail to correspond to the beliefs of the vast majority of those religions' adherents. And yet, while the cognitive approach to religion has explained why these"theologically correct" doctrines have difficulty taking root in popular religious thought, it is largely silent on the question of how they developed in the first place. Hugh Nicholson aims to fill this gap by arguing that such doctrines can be understood as developing out of social identityprocesses. He focuses on the historical development of the Christian doctrine of Consubstantiality, the claim that the Son is of the same substance as the Father, and the Buddhist doctrine of No-self, the claim that the personality is reducible to its impersonal physical and psychological constituents. Bothdoctrines are maximally counterintuitive, in the sense that they violate the default expectations that human beings spontaneously make about the basic categories of things in the world. Nicholson argues that that these doctrines were each the products of intra- and inter-religious rivalry, in whichone faction tried to get the upper hand over its ingroup rivals by maximizing the contrast with the dominant outgroup. Thus the "pro-Nicene" theologians of the fourth century developed the concept of Consubstantiality in the context of an effort to maximize, against their "Arian" rivals, thecontrast with Christianity's archetypal "other," Judaism. Similarly, the No-self doctrine stemmed from an effort to maximize, against the so-called Personalist schools of Buddhism, the contrast with Brahmanical Hinduism with its doctrine of an unchanging and eternal self. In this way, Nicholsonshows how religious traditions, to the extent that their development is driven by social identity processes, can back themselves into doctrinal positions that they must then retrospectively justify.

About The Author

Hugh Nicholson is Associate Professor of Theology at Loyola University Chicago.
The Spirit of Contradiction in Christianity and Buddhism
The Spirit of Contradiction in Christianity and Buddhism

by Hugh Nicholson

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Comparative Theology and the Problem of Religious Rivalry
Comparative Theology and the Problem of Religious Rivalry

by Hugh Nicholson

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Title:The Spirit of Contradiction in Christianity and BuddhismFormat:HardcoverDimensions:328 pagesPublished:March 15, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190455349

ISBN - 13:9780190455347

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Part 1: Christological Maximalism2. An External History of Christological Development3. From Messiah to Logos4. From Pre-existent Word to Consubstantial Son: The Arian ControversyPart 2: Buddhist Selflessness5. Anatta in the Pali Canon6. Anatmavada versus Pudgalavada in Abhidharmic and Post-Canonical Literature7. Theological Creativity and Doctrinal ConstraintNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Hugh Nicholson's new book exhibits a remarkable breadth of learning and provides a thoughtful overview of two counter-intuitive concepts: the Buddhist doctrine of no-self and the Christian doctrine of the trinity. Even more importantly, it addresses certain oversights in contemporaryBuddhology and Christian theology by highlighting the sociological and evolutionary factors that led to the development of these two religions' central ideas. This book will certainly generate conversation, argument, and further reflection." --Andrew J. Nicholson, Associate Professor, Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, Stony Brook University