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James K. A. Smith

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James K. A. Smith

James K. A. Smith

(born 1970)[1] is a Canadian-American philosopher who is currently Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, holding the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview. He is a notable figure associated with Radical Orthodoxy, a theo-philosophical movement within Postmodern Christianity (although Smith now questions the reality of Radical Orthodoxy as an ongoing theological movement: "Is 'radical orthodoxy' still a thing? I hadn't realized").[2] His work is undertaken at the borderlands between philosophy, theology, ethics, aesthetics, science, and politics. Drawing from continental philosophy and informed by a long Augustinian tradition of theological cultural critique—from Augustine and Calvin to Edwards and Kuyper—his interests are in bringing critical thought to bear on the practices of the church and the church's witness to culture.[3]


  • Life 1
  • Education 2
  • Work 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7
    • Personal homepage 7.1
    • Critical reviews 7.2


Smith was born in Embro, Ontario[1] and currently resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Smith completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo and Emmaus Bible College. He earned an M.Phil. (1995) in philosophical theology at the Institute for Christian Studies[1] where he studied under James Olthuis. He went on to receive a Ph.D. (1999) from Villanova University[1] where he worked with noted deconstructionist John D. Caputo. After teaching for a short time at Loyola Marymount University, Smith accepted his current position at Calvin College. He currently resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


As a former proponent of Radical Orthodoxy, Smith's claim is that it is actually theology or, more specifically, the story told by the church that is capable of countering modernism. His popular-level work largely aims at educating evangelicals regarding postmodernism and radical orthodoxy. Though he is critical of the emergent church movement, it should be said that he is at the same time sympathetic to much that could be described as part of that movement. It seems that a primary concern in his work is to expose certain postmodern philosophical claims (and certain ecclesial attempts to work with them) as not actually postmodern enough, pointing out instead that they too have accepted the agenda set by the enlightenment. This is seen in his warnings that the emergent tendency away from historic ecclesial tradition is a grave mistake, and that putting down roots, committing to a community for the long haul, and engaging the deep discourses within historic Christian orthodoxy are in fact the truly post- or counter-modern practices for the church today.

Given his training in continental philosophy and in the theology of the Reformed and Pentecostal traditions, his intellectual interests are a natural fit. Smith's research topics range from the continental philosophy of religion to urban altruism to the relationship between science and theology.


  • (2000) The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic. ISBN 9780830815746
  • (2002) Speech and Theology: Language and the Logic of Incarnation. ISBN 9780415276955
  • (2004) 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology, with Kelly James Clark & Richard Lints. ISBN 9780664225247
  • (2004) Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology, foreword by John Milbank. ISBN 9780801027352
  • (2004) translation of The Crossing of the Visible, by Jean-Luc Marion.
  • (2004) The Hermeneutics of Charity: Interpretation, Selfhood, and Postmodern Faith (festschrift for James Olthuis), editor with Henry Isaac Venema. ISBN 9781587431135
  • (2005) Jacques Derrida: Live Theory. ISBN 9780826462800
  • (2005) Radical Orthodoxy and the Reformed Tradition: Creation, Covenant, and Participation, editor with James Olthuis. ISBN 9780801027567
  • (2006) Hermeneutics at the Crossroads, editor with Bruce Ellis Benson & Kevin J. Vanhoozer. ISBN 9780253347466
  • (2006) Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, The Church and Postmodern Culture series. ISBN 9780801029189
  • (2008) After Modernity?: Secularity, Globalization, and the Reenchantment of the World, editor. ISBN 9781602580688
  • (2009) The Devil Reads Derrida: and Other Essays on the University, the Church, Politics, and the Arts. ISBN 9780802864079
  • (2009) Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, Cultural Liturgies series vol. 1. ISBN 9780801035777
  • (2010) Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy. ISBN 9780802861849
  • (2010) Science and the Spirit: A Pentecostal Engagement with the Sciences, editor with Amos Yong. ISBN 9780253355164
  • (2010) Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition. ISBN 9781587432941
  • (2011) Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning, editor with David I. Smith. ISBN 9780802866851
  • (2012) The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic, second edition. ISBN 9780801039720
  • (2013) Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, Cultural Liturgies series vol. 2. ISBN 9780801035784
  • (2013) Discipleship in the Present Tense: Reflections on Faith and Culture. ISBN 1937555089
  • (2014) Who's Afraid of Relativism?: Community, Contingency, and Creaturehood, The Church and Postmodern Culture series. ISBN 9780801039737
  • (2014) How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor. ISBN 0802867618

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "James K.A. Smith". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Blog Comment at Women in Theology". 
  3. ^ "Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation". January Series at Calvin College. Calvin College. Retrieved 2011-04-17. 

External links

Personal homepage

  • James K. A. Smith's personal homepage

Critical reviews

  • What's so Radical about Orthodoxy?Christianity Today: Review of Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology, by Ashley Woodiwiss
  • Introducing Radical OrthodoxyEvangelicals Now: Response to a review of Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-secular Theology, by Paul Helm
  • Review/Summary of "Limited Inc/arnation" (PDF) Summary and review of Smith's essay in Hermeneutics at the Crossroads.
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