Continuing discussion.

EPS Blog

This is the blog area for the Evangelical Philosophical Society and its journal, Philosophia Christi.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Christianity as a Wisdom Tradition

This month Eerdmans published Christian Practical Wisdom: What it is, Why it Matters by Dorothy C. Bass [director emerita of the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith], Kathleen A. Cahalan [professor of theology at Saint John's School of Theology and Seminary, Collegeville, Minnesota], Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore [E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture at Vanderbilt University], James R. Nieman [president of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago], Christian B. Scharen [vice president of applied research at Auburn Theological Seminary, New York]. From the publisher's description:

In this richly collaborative work, five distinguished scholars examine the oft-neglected embodied practical wisdom that is essential for true theological understanding and faithful Christian living. After first showing what Christian practical wisdom is and does in several real-life situations, the authors tell why such practical wisdom matters and how it operates, exploring reasons behind its decline in both the academy and the church and setting forth constructive cases for its renewal.

Christian Practical Wisdom is ripe for further philosophical and interdisciplinary reflection from Christian philosophers. Theologically attentive philosophers will find opportunities to reflect on issues of epistemology, ethics and moral-spiritual formation in these pages. Fruitful pairings with this book could include works from Esther Meek, Dru Johnson, Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, and James K.A. Smith.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Assessing Contemporary Virtue Ethics

In 2015, the Catholic University of America Press published Before Virtue: Assessing Contemporary Virtue Ethics by Jonathan Sanford. Sanford is professor of philosophy and associate vice president for academic affairs at Franciscan University of Steubenville. From the publisher's description:

Classical virtue ethics, exemplified by Aristotle (d. 322 BC), asked: what can we know of human nature and the virtues by which it is perfected in order to live well? Dominant ethical theories today generally avoid the question of human nature, taking deontological (non-metaphysical) or utilitarian (maximizing perceived social benefit) approaches. Elizabeth Anscombe's 1958 article "Modern Moral Philosophy," sparked a revival of virtue ethics. She critiqued contemporary ethical theories and exhorted her readers to recover central features of an Aristotelian approach.

Jonathan Sanford finds that despite the common origins of contemporary virtue ethics in Anscombe, the literature varies widely not just in its scope but in its basic commitments. What exactly is contemporary virtue ethics? In Before Virtue, Sanford develops strategies for describing contemporary virtue ethics accurately. He then assesses contemporary virtue approaches by the Anscombean dual standard which inspired them: the degree to which they avoid the pitfalls of modern moral philosophy and the extent to which they exemplify a successful recovery of an Aristotelian approach to ethics. Sanford finds the results to be mixed. But an underlying and unifying theme emerges: an adequate virtue theory must incorporate at least preliminary answers to the questions of the nature of human beings, our ends, and the principles by means of which our ends are best pursued. It is only in light of recognizing the significance of those questions to moral philosophy that one can begin to appreciate the contribution of Aristotelian ethics. Ultimately, Anscombe's judgment about the need to eschew what she designates as modern moral philosophy is vindicated through a recovery of Aristotelian ethics that goes further in addressing those more basic questions than has most contemporary virtue ethics. The concluding chapters of this book contribute to that recovery.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Self-Evident Truths in American Law

Cambridge University Press recently published, The Declaration of Independence and God: Self-Evident Truths in American Law by Owen Anderson. Anderson is associate professor of philosophy and religious studies in Arizona State University's New College. From the publisher's descriptions:
“Self-evident truths” was a profound concept used by the drafters of the American Declaration of Independence to insist on their rights and freedom from oppressive government. How did this Enlightenment notion of self-evident human rights come to be used in this historic document and what is its true meaning? In The Declaration of Independence and God, Owen Anderson traces the concept of a self-evident creator through America's legal history. Starting from the Declaration of Independence, Anderson considers both challenges to belief in God from thinkers like Thomas Paine and American Darwinists, as well as modifications to the concept of God by theologians like Charles Finney and Paul Tillich. Combining history, philosophy, and law in a unique focus, this book opens exciting new avenues for the study of America's legal history.
  • Offers readers unique insights on one of America's founding documents
  • Situates current debates about separation of church in state in historical context
  • The multidisciplinary approach will be of use to students and scholars in law, philosophy, history and religious studies.
Owen Anderson is also a contributor to the EPS website.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Idealism and Christian Thought

Bloomsbury Academic will publish in 2016 two volumes on Idealism and Christian Thought: Volume 1, Idealism and Christian Theology, edited Joshua Farris, Mark Hamilton, and James Spiegel, features eleven new contributions to this topic. From the publisher's description:
In the recent history of philosophy few works have appeared which favorably portray Idealism as a plausible philosophical view of the world. Considerably less has been written about Idealism as a viable framework for doing theology. While the most recent and significant works on Idealism, composed by the late John Foster (Case for Idealism and A World for Us: The Case for Phenomenological Idealism), have put this theory back on the philosophical map, no such attempt has been made to re-introduce Idealism to contemporary Christian theology. Idealism and Christian Theology is such a work, retrieving ideas and arguments from its most significant modern exponents (especially George Berkeley and Jonathan Edwards) in order to assess its value for present and future theological construction. As a piece of constructive philosophical-theology itself, this volume considers the explanatory power an Idealist ontology has for contemporary Christian theology.
Volume 2, Idealism and Christian Philosophy, edited by Steven Cowan and James Spiegel, features ten new contributions to this topic. From the publisher's description:
When it comes to contemporary philosophical problems, metaphysical idealism-or Berkeleyan immaterialism - is not taken seriously by most philosophers, not to mention the typical Christian layperson. This state of affairs deserves some attempt at rectification, since Idealism has considerable explanatory power as a metaphysical thesis and provides numerous practical and theoretical benefits.

Such thinkers as George Berkeley and Jonathan Edwards believed that Idealism is especially amenable to a Christian perspective, both because it provides a plausible way of conceptualizing the world from a theistic standpoint and because it effectively addresses skeptical challenges to the Christian faith. The contributors to this volume explore a variety of ways in which the case can be made for this claim, including potential solutions to philosophical problems related to the nature of time, the ontology of physical objects, the mind-body problem, and the nature of science.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Aikin on Evidentialism and the "Will to Believe"

Bloomsbury Academic recently published Evidentialism and the Will to Believe (2015) by Scott F. Aikin. Aikin is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

From the publisher's description:
Work on the norms of belief in epistemology regularly starts with two touchstone essays: W.K. Clifford's "The Ethics of Belief" and William James's "The Will to Believe." Discussing the central themes from these seminal essays, Evidentialism and the Will to Believe explores the history of the ideas governing evidentialism.
As well as Clifford's argument from the examples of the shipowner, the consequences of credulity and his defence against skepticism, this book tackles James's conditions for a genuine option and the structure of the will to believe case as a counter-example to Clifford's evidentialism. Exploring the question of whether James's case successfully counters Clifford's evidentialist rule for belief, this study captures the debate between those who hold that one should proportion belief to evidence and those who hold that the evidentialist norm is too restrictive.
More than a sustained explication of the essays, it also surveys recent epistemological arguments to evidentialism. But it is by bringing Clifford and James into fruitful conversation for the first time that this study presents a clearer history of the issues and provides an important reconstruction of the notion of evidence in contemporary epistemology.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Special Invitation from Ratio Christi
All current EPS members are encouraged to collaborate with Ratio Christi, a student apologetics alliance, in light of this invitation from president Corey Miller:
Ratio Christi is eager to open the door to various EPS members to speak at our more than 150 university chapters via our Speakers Bureau, to consider being a faculty advisor or even starting a Ratio Christi chapter at your university (even if you're a professor), and also to encourage those current and future professors at secular universities by providing resources for faculty ministry as winsome and productive but bold and shrewd "missional professors." We wish to subvert the notion of an occupation in favor of a vocation such that professors do not see it as a job but as a calling and think creatively toward what that might look like for each individual. We provide resources and details including PROF Talks videos that are by professors for professors in secular universities that prove helpful in understanding what it might look like to be missional in that environment and academic discipline. We welcome those who wish to cooperate with us for the benefit of all in making more of these videos so that we have one in every academic discipline. We envision a movement of missional professors such that every student knows at least one of them and so that every academic discipline has a core group of Christian scholars working together to rebuild the plausibility structure of the Christian world and life view on secular campuses. 
For more information, see

See also recent books by Ratio Christi associates, including Corey Miller and Paul Gould's book Is Faith in God Reasonable? Debates in Philosophy, Science, and Rhetoric (Routledge, 2014), which was based on a William Lane Craig Alex Rosenberg debate at Purdue; it includes entries by Victor Stenger, Paul Moser, Timothy McGrew, Robert Kaita, Michael Ruse, etc. For those interested in apologetics ministry and leadership, Mike Sherrards, Relational Apologetics: Defending the Faith with Holiness Respect and Truth (Kregel, 2015).

Finally, do not miss their upcoming symposium on February 5-7, 2016:

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Oxford Handbook's "Inter-Confessional" Essays on Christology

In 2015, Oxford University Press published The Oxford Handbook of Christology by Francesca Aran Murphy. The book is part of the "Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology" series. Murphy is Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Notre Dame

From the publisher's description:
The Oxford Handbook of Christology brings together 40 authoritative essays considering the theological study of the nature and role of Jesus Christ. This collection offers dynamic perspectives within the study of Christology and provides rigorous discussion of inter-confessional theology, which would not have been possible even 60 years ago. The first of the seven parts considers Jesus Christ in the Bible. Rather than focusing solely on the New Testament, this section begins with discussion of the modes of God's self-communication to us and suggests that Christ's most original incarnation is in the language of the Hebrew Bible. The second section considers Patristics Christology. These essays explore the formation of the doctrines of the person of Christ and the atonement between the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and the eve of the Second Council of Nicaea. The next section looks at Medieval theology and tackles the development of the understanding of who Christ was and of his atoning work. The section on "Reformation and Christology" traces the path of the Reformation from Luther to Bultmann. The fifth section tackles the new developments in thinking about Christ which have emerged in the modern and the postmodern eras, and the sixth section explains how beliefs about Jesus have affected music, poetry, and the arts. The final part concludes by locating Christology within systematic theology, asking how it relates to Christian belief as a whole. This comprehensive volume provides an invaluable resource and reference for scholars, students, and general readers interested in the study of Christology.

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