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Religion's Place in a Religiously Violent World

Why it's significant that Rabbi Jonathan Sacks won the Templeton Prize
Religion's Place in a Religiously Violent World
Image: Blake Ezra / Rabbi Sacks

The Templeton Prize is one of the most prestigious in the world. It was established in 1972 by the late Sir John Templeton, who said he wanted to identify “entrepreneurs of the spirit”—individuals who have devoted themselves to deepening our understanding of human purpose and ultimate reality.

As the Templeton Prize website puts it, “The prize celebrates no particular faith tradition or notion of God, but rather the quest for progress in humanity’s efforts to comprehend the many and diverse manifestations of the Divine.” The prize’s monetary award is £1,100,000 sterling (a little over $1.5 million currently).

Recipients have come from a variety of religious traditions (the Dalai Lama won it in 2012), but most have been Christians, and some, evangelicals (Billy Graham, Bill Bright, and Charles Colson, to name three). This year the award was given to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. According to Templeton, he “has spent decades bringing spiritual insight to the public conversation through mass media, popular lectures and more than two dozen books.”

In particular it noted, “Central to his message is appreciation and respect of all faiths, with an emphasis that recognizing the values of each is the only path to effectively combat the global rise of violence and terrorism.” CT invited Miroslav Volf, professor of theology at Yale Divinity School, to write about the significance of this prize for Sacks, since Volf himself has argued along similar lines in his recent, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World.Volf is likely best known among CT readers for his now classic book ...

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Religion's Place in a Religiously Violent World
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