James K. A. Smith

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James K. A. Smith
James K. A. Smith on Rebel Wisdom.jpg
Smith on Rebel Wisdom in 2019
Born (1970-10-09) October 9, 1970 (age 52)
Embro, Ontario, Canada
  • Canadian
  • American
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisHow to Avoid Not Speaking[1] (1999)
Doctoral advisorJohn D. Caputo
Other advisorsJames Olthuis
Academic work
School or tradition
Main interests
Websitejameskasmith.com Edit this at Wikidata

James K. A. Smith (born 1970) is a Canadian-American[4] philosopher who is currently Professor of Philosophy at Calvin University, holding the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview. He is the current editor-in-chief of the literary journal Image.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Smith was born on October 9, 1970,[7] in Embro, Ontario.[8] He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo and Emmaus Bible College. He earned a Master of Philosophy degree in philosophical theology in 1995 at the Institute for Christian Studies[8] where he studied under James Olthuis.[9] He went on to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1999 from Villanova University[8] where he was advised by John D. Caputo.[9][10] After teaching for a short time at Loyola Marymount University, Smith accepted his current position at Calvin University.

He currently resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is a senior fellow at the Trinity Forum.


Smith’s scholarly work is undertaken at the interface between philosophy, theology, ethics, aesthetics, science, and politics.[according to whom?] It draws from continental philosophy and is informed by a long Augustinian tradition of theological cultural critique, from Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin to Jonathan Edwards and Abraham Kuyper.[according to whom?] As of this date,[when?] his stated interest is in bringing critical thought to bear on the practices of the church and the church's witness to culture, culminating in the need to interpret and understand what he has called "cultural liturgies".[This quote needs a citation][11][third-party source needed]

As a former[when?] 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 modernism.[according to whom?] His popular-level work[clarification needed] aims to educate evangelicals regarding postmodernism and radical orthodoxy.[according to whom?] Though he is critical of the emergent church movement, he is at the same time sympathetic to much that could be described as part[which?] of that movement.[12][page needed][third-party source needed] A primary concern in his work is to expose certain[which?] postmodern philosophical claims (and certain[which?] 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.[according to whom?] 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.[citation needed]

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


  • (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
  • (2016) You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit. ISBN 9781587433801
  • (2017) Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology, Cultural Liturgies series vol. 3'. ISBN 0801035791
  • (2019) On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts. ISBN 9781587433894
  • (2022) How to Inhabit Time: Understanding the Past, Facing the Future, Living Faithfully Now. ISBN 1587435233

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smith, James K. A. (1999). How to Avoid Not Speaking: On the Phenomenological Possibility of Theology (PhD thesis). Villanova, Pennsylvania: Villanova University. OCLC 42523029.
  2. ^ a b Smith, James K. A. (December 17, 2015). "Christmas, 2015: Dr. James K.A. Smith". The Anglican Planet. Interviewed by Careless, Sue. Archived from the original on February 12, 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  3. ^ Leeman, Jonathan (January 5, 2018). "Doing Political Theology, Waiting for King Jesus". The Gospel Coalition. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Gilger, Patrick (October 18, 2018). "James K. A. Smith's Theological Journey". America. New York. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Marty, Martin E. (November 12, 2018). "James K.A. Smith's 'Cultural Liturgies'". Sightings. Chicago: University of Chicago. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  6. ^ "Editorial Announcement - Image Journal".
  7. ^ "Smith, James K. A., 1970- - LC Linked Data Service: Authorities and Vocabularies | Library of Congress, from LC Linked Data Service: Authorities and Vocabularies (Library of Congress)".
  8. ^ a b c "James K.A. Smith". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2007. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Smith, James K. A. (2005). Jacques Derrida: Live Theory. London: Continuum. p. xiii. ISBN 978-0-8264-6280-0.
  10. ^ Hankey, Wayne J.; Hedley, Douglas, eds. (2005). "Introduction". Deconstructing Radical Orthodoxy: Postmodern Theology, Rhetoric and Truth (PDF). Aldershot, England: Ashgate. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  11. ^ Smith, James, K.A. "Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation". January Series at Calvin College. Calvin College. Retrieved April 17, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)[dead link]
  12. ^ Smith, James. K. A. (2006). Who's Afraid of Postmodernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (2nd ed.). Baker Academic. ISBN 978-0801029189.[page needed]

External links[edit]