Obstacles to Divine Revelation examines the notion that there are obstacles to God giving revelation, if God exists. Rolfe King argues that exploring these significantly refines ideas of evidence for God, including the claim that God must operate within a logically necessary structure of revelation. Examining obstacles to divine revelation clarifies this structure and paves the way to evaluating its significance.
A proof is offered that aims to show that there can be no knowledge of God, excluding knowledge based on natural theology, without divine self-testimony. Both special and general revelation, if they occur, would be forms of divine self-testimony. It is argued that this indicates that the best way to model such knowledge of God is on the basis of an analogy with knowledge gained through testimony, rather than perceptual models of knowledge, such as the prominent model defended by Plantinga. (...) Appropriate causal chains and reliable cognitive processes only seem at best to ensure that a belief proposed for acceptance is the belief the testifier wants accepted; they do not ensure that it is rational to accept the belief. This particularly applies where there is much at stake, where it seems rational to seek some form of evidence, if available. Some brief comments are made on Trinitarian self-testimony. Another model of the ‘inner witness’ is briefly sketched out, based on the analogy with conscience. This model may capture some of the features of Plantinga’s approach, but leaves room for a free rejection of divine self-testimony, in a way that the perceptual analogy does not. A point connected to Plantinga’s aims is then made about the link between evidence, value and divine self-testimony, in relation to religious experience. Finally, it is suggested that the earlier proof may apply in a particular sense to all knowledge of God, including that based on natural theology. (shrink)
The ‘perfection account’ of atonement is discussed,under which Christ, on the cross,completed the perfection of human nature,establishing the full perfection of loving filial obedience, offering to the Father a perfected humanity, where these features were fundamental to the atonement. A basic perfection account is first set out. Two additional elements of the perfection account are then discussed: first, that Christ established a perfect victory over evil in our humanity; second, that on the cross Christ put to death the pull to (...) the self-life in our humanity. Reparation is then discussed. Finally,some critical questions are addressed. (shrink)
In this article I argue that if conscience, working properly, involves some form of ‘moral tug’, then this is incompatible with the state of ‘quiescence’ put forward as a central element of Eleonore Stump’s account of repentance. Quiescence is also a key notion for Stump’s theodicy in Wandering in the Darkness and Stump’s thesis in her book, Atonement. Quiescence is about an inactive, or neutral, or stationary, state of the will prior to turning to the good, or God, through receiving (...) God’s saving grace. But if God exerts a non–coercive pressure on people through their conscience to turn to him, and turn from evil, then this drawing towards the good, or tugging away from evil, can only be yielded to, or resisted. There is no neutral state. I give examples of language such as being ‘bound’ to obey one’s conscience, which seem to reflect such non–coercive pressure. I conclude by commenting on free will. (shrink)
In the context of recent debate about whether “Reformed Catholics” and Protestants, more generally, should accept Augustine’s totus Christus Christological ecclesiology, I illustrate the notion of an asymmetric aligning union. This is a metaphysically real union, but not a substantial union. I suggest that Reformed catholic theology would be better served by deploying the notion of an asymmetric aligning union. It preserves the Reformation solas and is compatible with the notion of the mystical body of Christ, without the disadvantages of (...) the totus Christus notion, if that is taken to involve a substantial union. This form of union should be of wider ecumenical interest. (shrink)
Divine revelation is a topical subject, given the many claims to revelation in the modern world. This article looks at recent discussion within the analytic tradition of philosophy which particularly relates to how to evaluate claims about divine revelation. The subjects covered are: defining divine revelation; direct cognition of God; evidence‐based approaches; divine testimony; conversion and faith; competing claims about divine revelation. Brief comments are then made on some related areas.
I illustrate the subject of conditional theology through discussing John Webster’s theology. This is a form of philosophical theology, with interesting links to natural theology, but not subject to Barthian strictures about natural theology. Webster started out with a Barthian emphasis, but later increasingly drew on Aquinas, emphasising God’s aseity. Webster, though, continued to emphasise the priority of the revelation of God as triune, and to resist what he saw as abstract notions of God deriving from natural theology and philosophy (...) of religion. I argue, however, that his work illustrates an underlying reliance on philosophical theology, related to conditional theology, and that dogmatic theology cannot be formed without such reliance. I comment on divine self-naming and conclude my reflections on Webster by discussing dogmatic science and grace, drawing links between conditional theology, special revelation and natural theology. (shrink)
In this article I engage with the notion that Christ ought to be understood to have a fallen human nature because Christ sanctifies human nature, and it is fallen humanity that needs sanctifying. In opposition to this line of thought, I argue that the Son of God assumed an unfallen nature, but with the powers of fallenness operative within it, and that this notion is consistent with a distinct account of sanctification. In support of these claims, I develop distinctions between (...) a conjoining union and a transferring union, and between the Chalcedonian union at the incarnation and the extension of that union on the cross. At the assumption a conjoining union occurred, not a transferring union. Christ sanctified his own nature, prior to a transferring union. (shrink)