This meant calling the bluff on his fellow scholars of religion, the majority of whom have needlessly acceded to the dominant scientism of the age and have thus felt obliged to approach their subject as a purely human phenomenon, whether as historians, anthropologists, psychologists, or critical readers of texts. Cutsinger saw no reason for this capitulation and every reason to listen instead to the traditional sages and saints, both East and West, whose voices he brought to bear in critiquing the critics and with the aim of opening the hearts and minds of his readership to a larger view of themselves and Reality.
Professor Cutsinger’s first book, The Form of Transformed Vision (1986), was fundamental to these ongoing efforts. Subtitled Coleridge and the Knowledge of God, it is an exploration of what this poet and metaphysician called “the mind’s self-experience in the act of thinking”, and a regimen of mental exercises is prescribed for activating a noetic or intellective form of consciousness. In his foreword to the book, English philosopher Owen Barfield—whom C. S. Lewis called “the wisest and best of my unofficial teachers”—speaks of Cutsinger’s “meticulous, unhurried, superabundantly documented exegesis of what Coleridge thought”, though the focus of the volume, as Barfield himself acknowledges, is more consistently on how than on what, on how to think like Coleridge and his Platonist predecessors.
Advice to the Serious Seeker: Meditations on the Teaching of Frithjof Schuon (1997) extends the same basic line of inquiry. In this book, however, Professor Cutsinger took the further step of showing that a truly adequate transformation of knowledge must take into account a more than mental discipline. Here he explores the traditionalist or perennialist perspective of the Swiss philosopher of comparative religion Frithjof Schuon (1907-98), and a case is built for Schuon’s distinctive claim that “if one would know That which is, one must be That which knows”. Clear and careful thinking is not enough: adequation to God presupposes engagement and method at every level of the self—not just the mind but the emotions, the will, and the body. “Knowledge saves us,” writes Schuon, “only on condition that it engages all that we are, only when it is a way and when it works and transforms and wounds our nature even as the plough wounds the soil.”
Much of Professor Cutsinger’s scholarly work was devoted to various editing projects. His initial efforts in this domain came in publishing the proceedings from an international ecumenical conference he organized and convened at Rose Hill College in 1995 during a visiting appointment as academic dean: Reclaiming the Great Tradition: Evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox in Dialogue (1997). In 2001 he was again instrumental in creating, planning, and orchestrating a major interfaith symposium, this time at the University of South Carolina on the occasion of the university’s bicentennial, and this became the basis for his edited collection Paths to the Heart: Sufism and the Christian East (2002). These two volumes were quickly followed by an anthology of mystical texts selected from a broad spectrum of figures in the history of Christian spirituality: Not of This World: A Treasury of Christian Mysticism (2003).
Cutsinger’s translating, editing, and annotating energies were focused primarily, however, on the writings of Schuon. Widely acknowledged as one of the twentieth century’s greatest authorities on the world’s religions, and the leading figure in the perennialist school, Schuon was the author of twenty-three books and numerous articles, letters, and unpublished private papers. Professor Cutsinger published three anthologies of Schuon’s writings: The Fullness of God: Frithjof Schuon on Christianity (2004), Prayer Fashions Man: Frithjof Schuon on the Spiritual Life (2005), and, most importantly, Splendor of the True: A Frithjof Schuon Reader (2013). He also edited five of the books of Frithjof Schuon in a series of new translations with selected letters. Fully annotated and indexed, each volume features a new translation from the French, an appendix of letters and other previously unpublished materials, and a glossary of technical terms.