In this paper I evaluate Zamulinski’s recent attempt to rebut an argument to the conclusion that having any kind of religious faith violates a moral duty. I agree with Zamulinski that the argument is unsound, but I disagree on where it goes wrong. I criticize Zamulinski’s alternative construal of Christianfaith as existential commitment to fundamental assumptions. It does not follow that we should accept the moral argument against religious faith, for at least two reasons. First, (...) Zamulinski’s Cliffordian ethics of belief is defective in several regards. Second, the truth of doxastic involuntarism and the possibility of doxastic excuse conditions can be used to demonstrate that the argument is unconvincing. (shrink)
Louis Pojman has argued that Christianfaith does not entail belief, or even assigning a probability of 1/2 to the claims of Christianity. However, this conclusion fails in many cases because of its ethical consequences. A Christian is committed by his faith to acting in accordance with Christian teaching. However, there are circumstances when it is morally impermissible to act in accordance to beliefs to which one assigns epistemic probability smaller than 1/2, namely when the (...) action is prohibited by ethical claims that one takes to be more probable. It is argued that in most cases such considerations preclude a person who assigns a probability of less 1/2 from being both committed both to Christianity and to the moral life. Matters are particularly clear in the paradigmatic faith-action of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac: this action would clearly be immoral if Abraham assigned a probability less than 1/2, or in fact any probability not very close to 1, to the existence of God. A moral version of Pascal’s wager is also discussed. (shrink)
If we assume that Christianfaith involves a propositional component whose content is historical, then the question arises as to whether Christianfaith must be based on historical evidence, at least in part. One of Kierkegaard’s pseudonyms, Johannes Climacus, argues in Philosophical Fragments that though faith does indeed have such an historical component, it does not depend on evidence, but rather on a first-hand experience of Jesus for which historical records serve only as an occasion. (...) I argue that Climacus’ accountis coherent, and that on such a view historical evidence is not sufficient for faith for anyone. However, in contrast to Climacus, I argue that evidence might still be valuable and even necessary for some people. The resulting danger that the decision about faith might become a question for scholarship is best met, not by insulating faith from historical scholarship, but by recognizing the ability of faith to supply a context in which the evidence available is sufficient. (shrink)
Overcoming Onto-theology is a stunning collection of essays by Merold Westphal, one of America’s leading continental philosophers of religion, in which Westphal carefully explores the nature and the structure of a postmodern Christian philosophy. Written with characteristic clarity and charm, Westphal offers masterful studies of Heidegger’s early lectures on Paul and Augustine, the idea of hermeneutics, Schleiermacher, Hegel, Derrida, and Nietzsche, all in the service of building his argument that postmodern thinking offers an indispensable tool for rethinking Christian (...)faith. A must read for every student and professor of continental philosophy and the philosophy of religion, Overcoming Onto-theology is an invaluable collection that brings together in one place fourteen provocative and lucid essays by one of the most important thinkers working in American philosophy today. (shrink)
The question of realism - that is, whether God exists independently of human beings - is central to much contemporary theology and church life. It is also an important topic in the philosophy of religion. This book discusses the relationship between realism and Christianfaith in a thorough and systematic way and uses the resources of both philosophy and theology to argue for a Christocentric narrative realism. Many previous defences of realism have attempted to model Christian belief (...) on scientific theory but Moore argues that this comparison is misleading and inadequate on both theological and philosophical grounds. Using Speech Act theory and the work of non-realists and Wittgensteinians, he offers a new account of the meaningfulness of Christian language; and uses this to develop a regulative conception of realism according to which God's independent reality is shown principally in Christ and, on this basis, through Christian practices and the lives of Christians. (shrink)
Libertarians such as J.R. Lucas have abandoned traditional Christian doctrines because they cannot reconcile them with the freedom of the will. Traditional Christian thinkers such as Augustine have repudiated libertarianism because they cannot reconcile it with the dogmas of the Faith. In Free Will and the ChristianFaith, W.S. Anglin demonstrates that free will and traditional Christianity are ineed compatible. He examines, and solves, puzzles about the relationships between free will and omnipotence, omniscience, and God's (...) goodness, using the idea of free will to answer the question of why God allows evil, and presenting arguments that link free will to eternal life and to the nature of revelation. Topics covered include the meaning of life, the soul and Lesbegue measure, and strategies for discerning the voice of God. (shrink)
This article deals with two types of Christianfaith in the light of the challenges posed by the ethics of belief. It is proposed that the difficulties with Clifford’s formulation of that ethic can best be handled if the ethic is interpreted in terms of role-specific intellectual integrity. But the ethic still poses issues for the traditional interpretation of Christianfaith when it is conceived as a series of discrete but related propositions, especially historical propositions. For (...) as so conceived, the believer makes claims that fall within the province of an intellectual discipline, history, that requires evidence and rules of procedure for the adjudication of such claims. It is noteworthy how few Christian theologians and philosophers of religion deal with the issue in these terms. Alvin Plantinga is a noteworthy exception and his views are examined and criticized because, among other things, his conclusion is that any believer without having any training in biblical languages or historical studies can know that the New Testament narratives are true. The article then considers a second conception of Christianfaith in which this conflict does not arise. One finds it in the works of Schleiermacher, Wittgenstein, and, surprisingly, in the conception of faith found in the early writings of Karl Barth. (shrink)
Christologie: Systematisch und exegetisch was published in 1972 by Karl Rahner and Wilhelm Thüsing. When in 1980 the translation appeared as A New Christology, it did not include Rahner’s five chapters from the 1972 volume, but inserted three essays by Rahner whose German originals were unidentified. The present essay identifies the source of the three chapters. It also reveals that Rahner’s original five chapters were published a second time in the 1976 Grundkurs des Glaubens, although in a different form, and (...) in 1978 were accurately translated in the sixth chapter of Foundations of ChristianFaith. The present essay concludes by tracing the genesis of Rahner’s transcendental Christology from its 1969 origins to its 1972 publication to its 1978 translation. (shrink)
Beginning with Kant, modernity has developed the secular dogma that human autonomy is incompatible with obedience to religious law. Can philosophy critique a faulty understanding of both autonomy and obedience? Can theology work out a healthy interaction between the two? In other words, can Christianfaith integrate both a redefined autonomy and a redefined obedience?
Newman was a profoundly skilled communicator of Christianfaith who provides a model for an efficacious elucidation of the doctrinal content and transformative power of Christianity. His exemplarity resides in his three-dimensional approach to theological communication: (1) the communicator’s personal investment in faith’s import; (2) faith’s threefold nature that includes its doctrinal content, its demand for personal involvement, and its reasonableness; and (3) the audience’s active contribution to the process of faith-transmission. Although repeated emphasis upon (...) subjective commitment goes against the modern penchant for objectivity, it is precisely this subjective component, which requires open minds and open hearts, that plays a decisive role in the concomitant adherence to the objective reality and reliability of faith’s wisdom. (shrink)
Lesslie Newbigin and his interpreter, George Hunsberger, see Polanyi’s epistemology giving a basis for the objectivity of the Christian message in a pluralistic world. But Polanyi’s view of science and of theology is differentiated leaving open the choice of religious faith.
Is the good news of Jesus Christ bad news for the Jewish neighbor? -- Kierkegaard and Hegel on Abraham : the openness and complexity of the modern context -- The problem, part I : the "perfect storm" of Christological interpretive imperialism -- The problem, part II : the good news of the Gospel and the bad news for the children of Abraham -- The remedy, part I : dispersing the "perfect storm" -- The remedy, part II : the debt to (...) modernity : interpretive imperialism in a higher key -- The remedy, part III : Abraham must die -- Postmodern discernment and the limits of the ethical : the way of justice -- The problem as remedy : an interpretive imperialism "without weapons"? -- Conclusion : faith seeking the ethical. (shrink)
The Orthodox Church is one of the largest religious groups in the world. Yet, it remains an enigma in the West, especially among those who mistake it either for a Greek version of Roman Catholicism or for an exotic mixture of Christianity and eastern religion. Many, however, are coming to recognize the Orthodox Church for what it is: a worldwide community of Christian disciples that has been faithful to the apostolic command, “stand fast and hold the traditions which you (...) were taught, whether by word or by our epistle” (2 Thess 2:15). Consequently, growing numbers of people are finding their true home in the Church that has “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Among these converts are dozens of contemporary philosophers. Some are accomplished, world-renowned, senior scholars. Others are junior scholars in the earliest stages of their careers. As a group, they belong neither to any particular philosophical ‘school’ nor to any particular Orthodox jurisdiction. What they have in common is a desire to enter deeply into an authentic and loving communion with the Living God, with God’s people, and ultimately with all of God’s creation. Turning East is a collection of autobiographical essays in which sixteen of these philosophers describe their personal journeys to the Orthodox Church, explain their reasons for becoming Orthodox Christians, and offer a sense of how their conversions have changed their lives. (shrink)
THE BOOK IS AN INTRODUCTION TO LEWIS’S THOUGHT ON THE MAJOR THEMES OF CHRISTIANITY, SUCH AS REASON AND FAITH, THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD, CHRIST, AND PRAYER. HIS ARGUMENTS ARE ANALYZED WITH NUMEROUS REFERENCES TO HIS WRITINGS. (STAFF).
In this paper I respond to Gunter Zimmermann's article on doubt and faith in God that was published in this journal last year, by offering some criticisms of his views and elaborating on certain issues that Zimmermann leaves nearly or entirely untouched. First, I argue that Zimmermann's analysis of doxastic doubt is incomplete. Next, I defend the thesis that whether some specific doxastic doubt is compatible with someone's faith depends in at least four regards on the person who (...) has that doubt. Subsequently, I champion the view that some so-called fiducial doubts are compatible with faith in God, whereas certain others are not. Also, I explain why by its very nature having some fiducial doubt entails having some doxastic doubt. Finally, I deal with some biblical passages in order to show why they do not preclude the possibility of someone's having faith and at the same time having certain fiducial doubts. (shrink)
Using Kierkegaard’s Works of Love, I advocate a theory of interpretation as a conversation with the dead, of the same sort Kierkegaard was practicing in the last discourse of his book. I do not mean reading the works of dead white European males, but looking at things from the perspective of the grave where, as Kierkegaard says, we are all equal before God. I will maintain that the creative conflict of interpretations arises from the ambiguity of this conversation, from the (...) difficulty we have in making out just what the dead are saying, which I will relate to what Derrida calls the absolute “secret.” Whence the Derridean idea that only as “hauntology” is hermeneutics possible. I insert the interpretation of religious faith within this hauntological hermeneutical framework. (shrink)
My personal relation with Polanyi, discussions with him in Oxford, contribution to the International Academy of the Philosophy of Science, the relevance of his innovative thought for Christian worship and theology, Magda and Michael in Oxford, the role of his literary executor.
Religion, law, and politics: historical contexts -- Religion and the limits of philosophy -- The prince and the church: the critique of Lutheran papalism -- Ecclesiastical history and the rise of clerical tyranny -- The history of Roman law -- Natural law (I): the institutes of divine jurisprudence -- Natural law (II): the transformation of Christian Thomasiuss natural jurisprudence -- The interpretation of nature -- Conclusion: reason and faith in the early German Enlightenment.
In his day, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) was immensely influential - a public intellectual and author of many books who even appeared on the cover of Time magazine (in 1948). He was a realist in political philosophy, and his book The Irony of American History continues to speak directly to the question of American imperialism. The current international situation requires serious reflection of the kind at which Niebuhr excelled, and Niebuhr's thought has experienced something of a revival. Pundits and politicians (...) from James Fallows, Jean Bethke Elshtain, and David Brooks to Bill Moyers, and Senators John Danforth and Barack Obama all cite Niebuhr's work with approval. If Niebuhr is attractive as a tough-minded political realist, he is insufficiently orthodox for some Christian theologians and ethicists. In this book, Richard Crouter offers an accessible introduction to Niebuhr's religious and political thought, while attempting to discover how Niebuhr can appeal to persons belonging to opposing political and religious camps, and whether his uncanny ability to speak to atheists as well as believers is a strength or weakness. (shrink)
Introduction: The sanctity of life and its discontents -- Our morality : selfish genes and cultural clout -- The Judeo-Christian idea : transcending our selfish genes -- The Judeo-Christian idea against genocide -- The Judeo-Christian idea against slavery -- Falling backwards : the abandonment of the Judeo-Christian idea and the return of genocide and slavery -- The rising : the Judeo-Christian idea in the post-war world -- The myth of biblical immorality -- The myth ofJudeo- (...) class='Hi'>Christian atrocities -- The myth of enlightenment perfection -- Conclusion: Hubris and humility. (shrink)