Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In 1940, William Ernest Hocking (1873-1966), professor of the history and philosophy of religion at Harvard University, proposed a model for the reconception of Christianity which would make of it a vehicle for the creation of world community. Hocking was convinced that the attempts at the "radical displacement" of other religions by Christianity which was the usual Christian mission effort, was a disservice to the universal religions and the living religions of indigenous peoples as well as to Christianity because it did not demand that Christian thinking continue to grow. A simple synthesis of other living religions was too "romantic" for Hocking. He opted for a "sharing process" which would result not only in an authentic conservation and reconception of Christianity, but of the other living religions as well. The question which guides this dissertation is whether or not Hocking's theory of the reconception of Christianity is a workable model which does make of it a harbinger of world community. Because experience plays such a major role in Hocking's theory the dissertation begins with key experiences of his life which contributed to his theory of reconception. It then moves to an explanation of his philosophy of religion, variously described as idealistic-mysticism, or philosophical mysticism, because for Hocking the mystic is key to his reconception theory. The essence of Christianity which must be retained in any reconception of it is explained in the terms chosen by Hocking, and the need he saw for a de-westernization of Christianity is explored. Hocking's model of reconception is then described. The concluding chapter demonstrates the applicability of Hocking's model not only for Christianity but for the other living religions. This dissertation does not propose a new model for the reconception of Christianity but has the far more modest aim of elaborating on one that is already available, and that is consistent, realistic, and, with a few corrections, might be of great utility in an era which increasingly needs to deal with personal, national, and religious individualisms which often hamper rather than effect world community.
Stidsen, Catherine Berry, "William Ernest Hocking's theory of the reconception of Christianity" (1992). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3805.