Original Research

Faith envy

Hermen Kroesbergen
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 4 | a5811 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i4.5811 | © 2020 Hermen Kroesbergen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 September 2019 | Published: 20 April 2020

About the author(s)

Hermen Kroesbergen, Department of Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

With this article, I wish to introduce the concept of ‘faith envy’. From time to time, both believers and non-believers envy those who have faith or more faith. People envy, for example, Muslims or Charismatics for the significance and certainty of their convictions in their lives. I propose using ‘faith envy’ as an angle to investigate faith and religious language. This perspective opens up important new questions about faith. If we look at faith from this angle, we see aspects of faith that remain obscure in many debates on religion, aspects beyond historical or factual matters. Firstly, I explore what it is exactly that is envied in faith envy. Secondly, I argue for the use of the concept ‘envy’ rather than ‘jealousy’ or ‘admiration’ in this context. Thirdly, I indicate how using the concept of faith envy may open up new theoretical perspectives on faith and in particular the nature of religious language. I show how the lives and works of Sören Kierkegaard, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Simone Weil are illuminated by looking at them as people who envy faith. I conclude this article by providing some impressions of what novel perspectives using the concept of faith envy may bring to light.

Keywords

faith envy; religious language; Ludwig Wittgenstein; Sören Kierkegaard; Simone Weil

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