Continuing discussion.

EPS Blog

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

Thursday, November 21, 2019

2019 ETS-EPS: Theological Anthropology Sessions

In addition to various individual papers on important philosophical issues, EPS members also contribute to important theological debates at the 2019 ETS-EPS conference:

Systematic Theology: Theological Anthropology 
November 22, 1:00 PM - 4:10 PM
33rd Floor - Mt. Whitney 

Moderator: Timothy Kleiser (Boyce College)

1:00 PM—1:40 PM
Christopher Woznicki (Fuller Theological Seminary)
What Is the Proper Starting Point for Christological Anthropology? T.F. Torrance's Contribution

1:50 PM—2:30 PM
Dennis Greeson (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Theosis and Herman Bavinck? T.F. Torrance’s Reconstruction and Its Promise for Bavinck’s Thought

2:40 PM—3:20 PM
Michael Steinmetz (New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary)
The Imago Dei in the Secular Age: Charles Taylor’s Relational Anthropology

3:30 PM—4:10 PM
Robin Dale Hadaway (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Secret Disciples: Their Role in Culture (John 19:38-42)

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2019 EPS Graduate Student Paper Award

We are pleased to announce that Brandon Rickabaugh (first-place) and Hayden Stephen (second-place) are recipients of the 2019 EPS Graduate Student Award! First ($500) and second-place ($250) prizes are for submitting best papers. Each will have the opportunity to present their paper at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society (Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego, California).

Paul Gould, Vice President of the EPS, said competition was "really competitive with lots of excellent papers." All EPS members who are graduate students (doctoral candidates, masters students) are very much encouraged to submit their best papers for next year's Graduate Student Paper Award. Next year's EPS will be in Providence, Rhode Island (November 17th-19th). Become an EPS Member (includes print subscription to Philosophia Christi) by signing up here.

This is the third year for the EPS Graduate Student Paper Award. Past award recipients include Stephanie Nordby (2018) and Brandon Rickabaugh (2017).

Here is more information about Hayden and Brandon, their 2019 papers, along with their  presentation times at the EPS conference:

Brandon Rickabaugh, "Consciousness and Cosmic Fine-Tuning: A Critique of the New Naturalist Hypothesis."

Presentation: November 21, 3:50-4:30 pm; Room: Cove (third floor)

I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Baylor University, the Franz Brentano Metaphysics of Mind Fellow at the Cultura Project, and a former fellow of the SCP's Fellowship for Science Cross-Training (neuroscience). I love teaching and see my scholarship as a natural means of collecting and clarifying my thoughts to effectively serve my students. In addition to teaching in Baylor's philosophy department, I've also taught philosophy at Biola University, and Azusa Pacific University. I am working on my dissertation, The Structure of Conscious Beings: Discoveries from the Unity of Consciousness. My work focuses on the nature of consciousness and how it informs our understanding of human nature, though, and psychology. I also have interests in the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of neuroscience, and the philosophy of mental health.

Abstract: The contemporary debate over fine-tuning has been a rivalry between two accounts: fine-tuning has its origin in either mind (theism) or non-mind (atheism). This is no longer so. Philip Goff (2019) recently argued that fine-tuning is the product of a naturalistic cosmic mind. According to Goff, at least one form of cosmopsychism explains cosmological fine-tuning in a way that is more parsimonious and less problematic than either theism or the multiverse hypothesis. Goff proposes what he calls agentive cosmopsychism: cosmic fine-tuning is best accounted for by a universe that possesses a basic form of consciousness such that it can fine-tune itself. Given the growing popularity of cosmopsychism and panpsychism in the philosophy of mind, this new naturalist account of fine-tuning warrants a reply. I offer several objections Goff’s case for agentive cosmopsychism as the best explanation of fine-tuning. Moreover, I argue that agentive cosmopsychism yields the false prediction that subjects of consciousness like you and me should not exist. The result, I argue, is that agentive cosmopsychism cannot offer a better explanation of fine-tuning than theism.

Hayden Stephen "Divine Omnispatiality, the Problem of Spatial Intrinsics, and Shapes."

Presentation: November 21, 5:30-6:10 pm; Room: Pier (third floor)

I am currently a doctoral student at Saint Louis University. My academic interests include analytic metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of religion, and philosophical theology. My dissertation topic is divine omnipresence, which concerns God and the metaphysics of location. I have a side interest in theistic ethics and its relation to theories of the atonement. Check out my recent paper “Is the God of Anselm Unloving?” in Religious Studies, where I defend a conception of divine retributive justice in response to Eleonore Stump’s criticisms of Anselm’s atonement theory. In addition to philosophy, these days I am enjoying learning about computer science and software development.

Abstract: Hud Hudson advances a model of divine omnipresence he calls “ubiquitous entension,” according to which God is wholly located at every subregion of space. But there is a potential problem facing the coherence of ubiquitous entension: the problem of spatial intrinsics, which is often posed against the metaphysical possibility of certain kinds of extended simples and the phenomenon of multi-location. Particularly, if God is wholly located at many different regions, it would seem that he must exemplify many different shapes, which is impossible. I lay out several avenues of response to this problem on behalf of the defender of ubiquitous entension, and I argue for my preferred solution that God, as multiply located, does not exemplify many different shapes intrinsically.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

ETS-EPS 2019: Penal Substitution in Contemporary Perspective

In addition to various individual papers on important philosophical issues, EPS members also contribute to important theological debates at the 2019 ETS-EPS conference:

The ‘Christus Odium’ Variety of Penal Substitution in Contemporary Perspective 
November 20, 9:00 AM - 12:10 PM
Third Floor - Mission Beach BC 

Moderator: Ryan A. Brandt (Grand Canyon University)

9:00 AM—9:35 AM
Joshua Farris (Heythrop College)
S. Mark Hamilton (Free University of Amsterdam)
Which Penalty, Whose Atonement?

9:35 AM—10:10 AM
Derek Rishmawy (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
An Experiment in Odium: Retrieving Classical Tools for Contemporary Atonement Doctrine

10:20 AM—10:55 AM
Tom McCall (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
The Well-Pleased Father and the Much-Loved Son: Christus Odium in Theological Perspective

10:55 AM—11:30 AM
Owen Strachan (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Ryan L. Rippee (The Cornerstone Bible College and Seminary)
It Was the Will of the Father to Crush Him: On Penal Substitution and Divine Wrath 

11:30 AM—12:10 PM
Q&A Panel Discussion

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

EPS 2019 Panel Discussion on Theistic Evolution

Enjoy this panel discussion on theistic evolution, which is, in part a response to the 2017 multi-authored book, Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Crossway).

Evangelical Philosophical Society B3: Panel discussion on Theistic Evolution 
November 20, 2:00 PM - 5:10 PM
Third Floor - Promenade AB

Moderators:
Michael J. Murray (Franklin and Marshall College)
John Churchill (Independent Scholar)

Respondents:
Tom McCall (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
William Lane Craig (Talbot; Houston Baptist)
Jeff Schloss (Westmont College)
Steve Meyer (Discovery Institute) 
Paul Nelson (Biola University; Discovery Institute)

Attendees should review the target article in advance at bit.ly/TheisticEvolutionPaper

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ETS-EPS 2019: Bioethics Sessions

EPS members contribute to various discussions in bioethics, medical ethics, and debates about physician-assisted suicide. We are very pleased to see a day-long discussion of these crucial issues at the 2019 ETS-EPS conference in San Diego.

Bioethics November 20, 9:00 AM - 12:10 PM 
33rd Floor - Pyramid Peak

Moderator: Cristina Richie (East Carolina University)

9:00 AM—9:40 AM
James Alan Branch (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Should Children Be Given Drugs to Stop the Natural Process of Puberty?

9:50 AM—10:30 AM
Eddie N. Colanter (Trinity Law School, Trinity International University)
Honor Your Parents in Bioethics: A Philosophical Critique of Familial Relationships

10:40 AM—11:20 AM
Mark B. Chapman (Trinity International University)
Visions of a New Humanity – CRISPr Babies, Transhumanism, and the Second Adam

11:30 AM—12:10 PM
Michael J. Sleasman (Trinity International University)
By the Enhancing of Our Minds: Exploring the Ethics and Practices of Brain Boosting

Bioethics: Physician-Assisted Suicide, November 20, 2:00 PM - 5:10 PM 
Second Floor - Old Town AB 

Moderator: Erik M. Clary (Oklahoma State University)

2:00 PM—2:20 PM
Erik M. Clary (Oklahoma State University)
Physician-Assisted Suicide in the United States

2:20 PM—2:40 PM
Bob Huff* (California Senate - 2008-2016)
How California's "End of Life Option Act" Became Law

2:50 PM—3:30 PM
Ryan R. Nash* (Ohio State University)
How Physician-Assisted Suicide Impacts the Practice of Medicine

3:40 PM—4:20 PM
Scott B. Rae (Talbot School of Theology / Biola University)
Does "No" to Physician-Assisted Suicide mean "Yes" to Maximal Prolongation of Life? 

4:30 PM—5:10 PM Panel Discussion

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

2019 EPS Annual Conference: How Christian Philosophers Can Serve Theologians and Biblical Scholars

At the 2019 Annual EPS Conference in San Diego, California, J.P. Moreland, Talbot School of Theology's Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, will deliver this year's plenary address.

Title: "How Christian Philosophers can serve Systematic Theologians and Biblical Scholars"

Synopsis: The paper will begin by laying out two reasons why much of contemporary theology and scriptural studies are anemic in their impact for Christ: these disciplines are often done in isolation from the broader cultural issues facing the church and their results are not presented as knowledge of reality. The paper argues that an important solution to this problem is for theological and scriptural scholars to appropriate the findings of Christian philosophy and do integrative work with Christian philosophers in their intellectual projects. The paper goes on to state and illustrate four ways that Christian philosophy and philosophers can serve their colleagues in theology and scriptural studies.

Time and Location: Thursday, November 21st, 2:00-2:50 pm; Seaport ABCDE, Second Floor, Manchester Grand Hyatt.

If you or a colleague wish to attend and have not yet registered, onsite registration will be available.

J.P. will also be the final plenary speaker for the annual EPS Apologetics conference (Saturday, November 23rd, at Maranatha Chapel, San Diego). J.P. will be speaking on "Science and Secularism" (see also his 2018 book, Scientism and Secularism). For the last 18 years, the EPS has helped bring apologetics and worldview training to local churches in a variety of locations around the U.S., drawing upon seasoned expertise from EPS members working in apologetics, philosophy, theology, and ethics.

In light of commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Philosophia Christi, J.P. wrote the following paper in the Summer 2019 issue of Philosophia Christi (subscribe now): "My Retrospective and Prospective Musings on the Evangelical Philosophical Society", he writes:
This article reflects on three issues: (1) the past twenty years of the Evangelical Philosophical Society (EPS), (2) ideas for EPS's future, and (3) some words of advice to my younger EPS colleagues. Regarding (1), I identify four values that were central to the rebirth of the EPS and that have guided us for twenty years. Regarding (2), I issue a warning and a challenge. Regarding (3), I provide three words of advice for keeping us on course.
For other EPS content at the intersection of philosophy, theology and biblical studies, see these free web contributions:
Support the EPS to expand its reach, support its members, and be a credible presence of Christ-shaped philosophical interests in the academy and into the wider culture!

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Ratio et Fides

In 2018 Pickwick Publications released Ratio et Fides by Robert E. Wood.  Wood is Professor of Philosophy in the Institute of Philosophic Studies at the University of Dallas. He has written ninety articles and eight books, his most recent being The Beautiful, the True, and the Good: Studies in the History of Thought, a collection of papers from 1966 to 2012. He is a past president of the American Catholic Philosophical Association and for twenty years was the editor of American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly.

From the publisher's description of Ratio et Fides:
In the face of growing skepticism and relativism, “believe in reason” is the central message in Pope John Paul II’s Fides et Ratio. Only by the two wings of reason and faith together can the human spirit soar. The current work, Ratio et Fides, is its philosophical counterpart. It is not a watered-down introduction but a “leading-into” the heart of philosophic thinking. Firmly rooted in the phenomenological description of an ordinary artifact, a mailbox, the book uses the principles involved in the description to examine key figures in the history of thought. We focus on three areas: the Soul, Morality, and God. We consider seven thinkers. Plato and Aristotle, who founded the tradition, were taken up by Augustine and Aquinas in developing their theologies. Descartes launched the distinctively modern tradition, culminating in Hegel’s systematic presentation of the whole Western tradition, philosophical and religious. More recently, Heidegger approached that tradition in terms of its hidden ground in the Mystery of Being, recalling us to meditative thinking as the secular counterpart to prayer. Armed with this background, students will be able to approach with profit the Fathers of the Church and major theologians and philosophers, past and recent.

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Friday, September 20, 2019

How Theology Shaped Twentieth-Century Philosophy

In 2019, Cambridge University Press released How Theology Shaped Twentieth-Century Philosophy by Frank B. Farrell. Farrell is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Purchase College, State University of New York. His publications include Subjectivity, Realism, and Postmodernism: The Recovery of the World in Recent Philosophy (Cambridge, 1994) and Why Does Literature Matter? (2004).

From the publisher's description of How Theology Shaped Twentieth-Century Philosophy: 
Medieval theology had an important influence on later philosophy which is visible in the empiricisms of Russell, Carnap, and Quine. Other thinkers, including McDowell, Kripke, and Dennett, show how we can overcome the distorting effects of that theological ecosystem on our accounts of the nature of reality and our relationship to it. In a different philosophical tradition, Hegel uses a secularized version of Christianity to argue for a kind of human knowledge that overcomes the influences of late-medieval voluntarism, and some twentieth-century thinkers, including Benjamin and Derrida, instead defend a Jewish-influenced notion of the religious sublime. Frank B. Farrell analyzes and connects philosophers of different eras and traditions to show that modern philosophy has developed its practices on a terrain marked out by earlier theological and religious ideas, and considers how different philosophers have both embraced, and tried to escape from, those deep-seated patterns of thought.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Worldviews and the Problem of Evil: A Comparative Approach

In 2019, Lexham Press will publish Worldviews and the Problem of Evil: A Comparative Approach by Ronnie P. Campbell Jr.  Campbell (Ph.D., Liberty University) is associate professor of theology at Liberty University's Rawlings School of Divinity. He is the author of For Love of God: An Invitation to Theology.

From the publisher's description of Worldviews and the Problem of Evil
Most attempts at answering the problem of evil either present a straightforward account of the truth claims of Christianity or defend a minimalist concept of God. This book is different. Inside, you'll examine four worldviews' responses to the problem of evil. Then, you'll hear the author's argument that Christian theism makes better sense of the phenomenon of evil in the world, equipping you to reach an informed conclusion.
This book's unique approach "integrating worldviews with apologetics with theology" will give you a better understanding of the debate surrounding the problem of evil, in both philosophy and theology.
Learn to think cogently and theologically about the problem of evil and Christianity's ability to answer its challenges with Worldviews and the Problem of Evil as your guide.

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New E-Newsletter Resources Christian Worldview Readers

Our world is awash in information. Curating quality sources is an important resource to any earnest reader.  In part, that is what "The Worldview Bulletin" (WB) seeks to accomplish as a recently launched e-newsletter.

WB features articles, interviews, choice quotes, video and podcast recommendations, book discounts and previews, along with announcements about various apologetics events, and even some culture-oriented news items. While their content selection seems attuned for a thoughtful 'general public' readers of Christian worldview content, they do not shy away from promoting the occasional academic monograph, especially if deeply discounted or free.

Launched this last Spring by Christian scholars Paul Copan, Paul Gould, and Christopher Reese, WB seeks to help readers "stay informed about current ideas and issues at the intersection of culture and Christian philosophy, theology, and apologetics." 
Managing editor, Chris Reese, told me that WB was started "to address important issues in a timely fashion (much more so than you can with a book, journal article, or the like). We also wanted to try to curate some of the best resources around the Internet that we feel Christians can benefit from and need to be aware of." Reese also encourages EPS members to contribute to WB: "We welcome ideas for short articles, links to items of interest, info on conferences and events, book announcements, etc.  Anyone is welcome to email them to me."

I recently reviewed the WB archive, and was struck by the range of content and authors promoted. In addition to content by Copan, Gould, and Reese, readers will find contributions by various other EPS members and Philosophia Christi writers (e.g., Tawa Anderson, Rob Bowman, Stewart Goetz, JP Moreland, William Lane Craig), and so many more writers among various Christian apologetics and worldview training networks.

WB runs a monthly, paid subscription with original articles ($5 per month), and then also a weekly "Useful Things" e-newsletter that is for free. Subscribe today to both and check-out their archive to learn more!

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Friday, July 19, 2019

A Philosophical Primer on the Summa Theologica

In 2018 Franciscan University Press released A Philosophical Primer on the Summa Theologica by Richard J. Regan. Richard J. Regan, SJ is one of the foremost scholars on Aquinas' philosophy and the author of a wide range of scholarly and academic titles.

From the publisher's description of A Philosophical Primer on the Summa Theologica: 
What is the meaning of human life? The Summa Theologica is, in effect, Thomas Aquinas' answer to this question. With the goal of showing why human beings exist, their destiny, and how they can achieve it, Aquinas argues that human beings exist to know God, that their destiny is to enjoy the vision of him in the next life, that they need to act properly in this life in order to be worthy of their destiny, and that the Church's sacraments are the means to do so. The Summa Theologica represents a major attempt to introduce the method and principles of Aristotle into the study of Christian theology.
Intended for an educated general audience and philosophical neophytes, A Philosophical Primer on the Summa Theologica will help readers become better acquainted with Aquinas' thought, summarily expressing his positions and arguments largely in his own terms. Using an innovative format, author Richard Regan makes available in one volume a more integrated view of Aquinas' philosophy in the Summa Theologica.

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Atheism: A Critical Analysis

In 2019, Wipf and Stock released Atheism: A Critical Analysis by Stephen E. Parrish. Parrish is a professor of philosophy at Concordia University Ann Arbor.

From the publisher's description of Atheism:
Does atheism have a monopoly on reason and science? Many think so—or simply assume so. Atheism challenges the many hidden assumptions that have led to the popular belief that atheism is the “default” position for explaining reality. Delving into the most basic and fundamental questions of existence, this thought-provoking book explains that atheism does not and cannot provide a secure foundation for thought and life. Specifically, it demonstrates that atheistic theories cannot explain the existence of an ordered universe, the conundrums of consciousness and knowledge, or why there is morality or beauty. Rather than being the result of reason, atheism is shown to be, in effect, a revolt against reason. If you enjoy pondering the most basic issues that confront us in our world today, then Atheism is the book for you.
To learn more about Parrish's work, and related to Atheism: A Critical Analysis, see his featured book, The Knower and the Known: Physicalism, Dualism, and the Nature of Intelligibility

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

William Lane Craig on The Ben Shapiro Show

In a just released interview with Ben Shapiro, Bill Craig discusses multiple issues regarding Christianity and culture, cosmological, ontological, and moral arguments for God's existence, the differences between the 'hard sciences' and philosophy, the problem of evil, and various moral issues shaping Western social-cultural contexts.
Bill Craig, President of ReasonableFaith.org and former President of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, opens the interview discussing the state of Christianity in public life and how Enlightenment assumptions shape our public assumptions about what it means to be 'religious' today and how we understand authority, including religious authority.

Regarding interests among 'secular universities' for seriously discussing religious belief, Craig said, "In hard sciences, and in my discipline, philosophy, I think, frankly, there is a renaissance of theistic belief, and there is a virtual revolution going on in Anglo-American philosophy right now, where Christian philosophers represent a significant and respected voice in the philosophical community. So, I find there is tremendous interest on university campuses in these topics."

On the unique claims of Jesus and His resurrection, Bill reasons this way:
Jesus' resurrection from the dead is Yahweh's public and unequivocal vindication of the man whom the Chief Priest had rejected as a blasphemer. It is the divine demonstration that these allegedly blasphemous claims are in fact true, that He was who he claimed to be. And, therefore, I follow Jesus in His conception of what it means to be the Messiah . . . The resurrection of Jesus is the resurrection of the man who claimed to be Messiah, Son of God, and Son of Man, and was crucified for those allegedly blasphemous claims. If God has raised this man from the dead, then he has unequivocally and publicly vindicated those allegedly blasphemous claims.
Regarding if the 'God of reason' alone is sufficient, why do we need revelation, whether at Sinai or in Jesus, Bill says that this can be best summarized in one word: 'Atonement.'

The latter half of the discussion with Ben Shapiro addresses various moral issues, including the Bible and slavery, homosexuality, and Bill's emphasis of how a moral argument for God's existence is crucial to debating these issues publicly.

Reflecting on his Toronto dialogue last year with Jordan Peterson, Bill affirms that he agrees with Peterson on the existence of objective moral values and meaning in life, but points out that such values for Peterson don't have a grounding, a metaphysical basis in his worldview. "I am still hopeful that he [Peterson] will come to embrace God as an objective, metaphysical reality who will provide a basis for such values and meaning in life."

The interview with Shapiro closes with Bill talking about his own experience with encountering the love of God for him, and he spoke of the "wisdom and authenticity" of Jesus' words and life as encountered in the gospels.

To learn about Bill Craig's work, go to ReasonableFaith.org.

For as low as $25 a year, sign-up today to be an EPS member (includes print copies of the journal, access to annual and regional meetings, opportunities to present conference papers, and more!). Want to receive a digital only version of Philosophia Christi? Special EPS member and non-member pricing and access is now available for individuals via the Philosophy Documentation Center, with over 900 pieces of content to browse and search!

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Dru Johnson on the Power of Rituals

In 2019, Eerdmans Publishing released Human Rites: The Power of Rituals, Habits, and Sacraments by Dru Johnson. Johnson is an Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at The King's College in New York City. He is an editor for the Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Biblical Criticism series, an associate director for the Jewish Philosophical Theology Project at The Herzl Institute in Israel; and a co-host for the OnScript Podcast.

From the publisher's description of Human Rites:
What are we doing when we gather around the sacraments— or when we make the same breakfast every morning? Embodying rituals, says Dru Johnson. And until we understand what we’re doing and why, we won’t know how these rituals work, what they mean, or how we might adapt them.
In Human Rites Johnson considers the concept of ritual as seen in Scripture and its role in shaping our thinking. He colorfully illustrates both the mundane and the sacred rituals that penetrate all of life, offering not only a helpful introduction to rituals but also a framework for understanding them. As he unpacks how rituals pervade every area of our lives, Johnson suggests biblical ways to focus our use of rituals, habits, and sacraments so that we can see the world more truly through them.
On February 28, The King’s College welcomed the Rev. Dr. Dru Johnson to discuss Human Rites.

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Transhumanism and the Image of God

In April 2019, IVP Academic published Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today's Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship by Jacob Shatzer.  Shatzer is assistant professor and associate dean in the School of Theology and Missions at Union University.

From the publisher's description of Transhumanism and the Image of God:
We're constantly invited to think about the future of technology as a progressive improvement of tools: our gadgets will continue to evolve, but we humans will stay basically the same. In the future, perhaps even alien species and intelligent robots will coexist right alongside humans, who will grapple with challenges and emerge as the heroes. But the truth is that radical technological change has the power to radically shape humans as well. We must be well informed and thoughtful about the steps we're already taking toward a transhuman or even posthuman future. Can we find firm footing on a slippery slope? Biblical ethicist Jacob Shatzer guides us into careful consideration of the future of Christian discipleship in a disruptive technological environment. In Transhumanism and the Image of God, Shatzer explains the development and influence of the transhumanist movement, which promotes a "next stage" in human evolution. Exploring topics such as artificial intelligence, robotics, medical technology, and communications tools, he examines how everyday technological changes have already altered and continue to change the way we think, relate, and understand reality. Cautioning against the belief that Christians can easily direct any technology toward following Christ, Shatzer grapples with the potential for technology to transform the way we think about what it means to be human and what sort of future we hope for. By exploring the doctrine of the incarnation and its implications for human identity, he helps us better understand the proper place of technology in the life of the disciple and avoid false promises of a posthumanist vision. What sorts of practices today can help us retain the best of what it means to be human in the future?

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Jonathan Mark Threlfall on Pascal's "Anthropological Argument"

In the Winter 2018 issue of Philosophia Christi, Jonathan Mark Threlfall published the article, "The Imago Dei and Blaise Pascal's Abductive Anthropoligical Argument." Jonathan is lead pastor of Trinity Baptist Church (Concord, New Hampshire). In this EPS interview, Jonathan discusses his article and the implications of Pascal's argument.

How did Pascal argue abductively for Christianity? 
It might be helpful to begin with an explanation of “abductive reasoning.” No, it doesn’t have anything to do with kidnapping. It actually describes a common process whereby we arrive at conclusions every day. When we see a broken window and a baseball sitting among the shards of glass, we conclude via abductive reasoning that someone hit or threw the baseball through the window. Abductive reasoning asks, “What theory best explains the data we see?” Pascal is doing something similar in his argument for Christianity. He looks at the data of paradoxical human thought and behavior and asks: what theory (e.g., theological framework) best explains this data? He observed that humans crave for greatness but are unable to achieve it; and, moreover, they are exacerbated in their misery by the very idea of greatness of which they cannot rid themselves. What other theory, Pascal asks, can provide a more satisfactory explanation for these paradoxes than the explanation found in Christian anthropology—that humans were created for greatness (a relationship with God), but have fallen into misery because of their sin? Once this anthropological explanation is established, the other components of Christian belief come with it. 
Your Philosophia Christi article makes the point that the doctrine of the imago Dei never surfaces in Pascal's Pensees. Why is that, and what might that tell us about Pascal's approach? 
What we call the Pensées (French for “thoughts”) is actually a collection of fragments, some of which Pascal probably intended to turn into complete book, a defense of the Christian faith. Since he died at age 39, Pascal never finished this project. However, throughout the Pensées, it becomes apparent that he had a particular audience in mind—the sophisticated, self-satisfied skeptics of 17th-century Paris. In light of his intended audience, an appeal to a biblical concept (such as the doctrine of the imago Dei) would have made little sense. Even if Pascal had considered the relevance of the doctrine of the imago Dei, he probably would not have included it. This is because he wanted to focus on exposing the existential vulnerabilities of his readers by exegeting their perplexed minds and hearts before he exegeted Scripture. Thus, Pascal takes an anthropological approach to apologetics, occupied more with psychological analysis rather than theological exposition. 
What does a doctrine of the imago Dei 'do' for Pascal's 'Anthropological Argument'? 
The shortage of biblical and theological exposition (mentioned above) in Pascal’s anthropological argument, opens a space for further exploration. I wondered whether the Biblical doctrine of the imago Dei would weaken or strengthen Pascal’s case, whether it would point people to or away from Biblical anthropology as the best explanation for the paradoxes Pascal so persuasively presents. In my examination of the doctrine of the imago Dei, I discovered that it does strengthen Pascal’s case in two important ways. First, it provides more exegetical backing for his case that humans are a paradoxical duality of greatness and wretchedness. Second, it suggests more instances of this duality. In other words, the doctrine of the imago Dei prompts us to ask, “Where else might we see evidence that fallen humans are fundamentally conflicted due to their fallenness and imagedness?” Overall, then, the doctrine of the imago Dei fortifies Pascal’s anthropological argument by providing Biblical substantiation and practical instantiation. 
How did you come to be interested in Pascal's argument? 
I had read snippets of the Pensées, but I was especially stirred by a description of it given in Avery Cardinal Dulles’ History of Apologetics: “With extraordinary psychological insight Pascal dissects the nature of man, showing both his nobility and his wretchedness. He shows the paradoxes of the human situation, man’s foolish pride and vain imaginings, his weakness before the wild powers of nature.” This, among other things, prompted me to read the Pensées for myself. As I did, I was impressed with two things. First, Pascal’s description of the human condition left me feeling personally exposed. I felt he was shouting truths about me I hardly dared whisper to myself. Second, Pascal’s writings are decisively and radically Christocentric. Throughout the Pensées, he insists that Jesus Christ, as the God-man who wrought atonement for humanity, is the only solution to the miserable condition brought about by human sin. I found my heart stirred to more deeply adore Christ as my Savior. I decided I could not ignore such a powerful case for Christian belief. 
Have you found fruitful ways to apply Pascal's reasoning in the context of a sermon? If so, how? 
People are generally in tune with their own feelings, but they often don’t know how to interpret them. Showing them—whether believers or unbelievers—a theological explanation for their longings for greatness and feelings of misery opens an unexpected way to present the gospel. Sometimes, when addressing to unbelievers, I will say something along these lines: “Don’t you feel within yourself a void that nothing else can fill? A craving for greatness you can’t achieve? If so, have you tried to obliterate that longing? Go ahead. Try it. You can’t; for even in trying to erase it, you’re admitting it’s still there. There’s a simple explanation for this: God has put that longing in you because he created you to be so much more than you are now. He created you to enjoy a relationship with him, which is possible only through faith in Jesus Christ.” Pascal’s technique was to make skeptics hope that Christianity could be true, and then demonstrate that it is indeed true. It involves understanding the twists and turns of the human heart, which Pascal has helped me do in my own preaching and pastoring. 
When you think about Pascal's anthropological reasoning in the context of 21st century cultural conditions (at least in North America), do you find the plausibility of Pascal's argument to be mostly strengthened or weakened? 
I think that Pascal’s argument is actually more relevant now than ever before. And there are specific cultural reasons that make me think this. For one thing, Pascal points to his contemporary Parisians’ passion for entertainment as evidence that they are trying to suppress their feelings of boredom and misery. The fact that they simply cannot sit still and enjoy themselves, but instead are always occupied with a frenzy of activities (for example, gambling, playing tennis or golf, or pursuing love or politics) argues for the conclusion that they are deeply unhappy and cannot rid themselves of the desire to be happy. I think the same is true for 21st century Americans, but to a heightened degree. Through technological innovations (smartphones, movies, virtual reality, etc.) we are pushing the boundaries of what it means to pursue entertainment, diversion, and distraction. Meanwhile, we haven’t found any deeper happiness. I believe, with Pascal, that the louder we turn up the decibels of distraction, the more we will hear our cries of misery. We cannot outshout our wretchedness. Another reason I believe our culture is ripe for a Pascalian approach to persuasion is that our culture is increasingly rejecting a modernistic approach to epistemology—an approach Pascal never embraced. Whereas Descartes believed that a person can arrive at certain knowledge via pure reasoning, Pascal took a more chastened view of human reason in favor of “the logic of the heart.” This does not mean that he eschewed reason (as people often misunderstand him). It does mean, however, that he took seriously the noetic effects of the fall. Unbelievers are intractably repulsed by the offense of the cross, and proofs for Christianity may actually harden them to the gospel. In our postmodern context, therefore, I believe that a Pascalian approach would be more fruitful, in that it seeks to commend the Christian faith, not only in its rationality, but also in its goodness and beauty. 
What other work would you like to see done by Pascal scholars and Christian philosophers/apologists engaging Pascal? 
There is much potential for augmenting Pascal’s anthropological argument. I would suggest breaking this work into two areas. In the first, we need Christian social scientists and cultural anthropologists who could supply more data for the paradoxical duality of the human condition. The field of cognitive anthropology abounds with examples of human creativity, as well as the noetic effects of the fall. Ethnomusicologists might examine the evidence for the duality of greatness and wretchedness in humans’ musical achievements. The same evidence might be investigated in the areas of economic and political anthropology. In the second, we need apologists who specialize in the area of comparative religion. This is because the abductive anthropological approach argues that Christian anthropology supplies the best explanation for the human condition—better than any other religion or worldview. Transhumanism, pantheism, mysticism, Hinduism, Islam—and their myriad variations all claim a particular view of the human condition. Christian apologists may compare these accounts of the human condition with the Christian account, to demonstrate that only Christian anthropology compellingly explains and answers the full scope of the human plight. 
What books do you enjoy reading on Pascal and the topics of his Anthropological Argument (or at least those you have found resourceful)? 
Nothing replaces reading the Pensées for itself. Beyond that, I would recommend reading Peter Kreeft’s Christianity for Modern Pagans (which is a “festooning” of Pascal’s Pensées), and Douglas Groothuis’ 1998 JETS article “Deposed Royalty: Pascal’s Anthropological Argument.” An adaptation of this article appears also in his 2011 book Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Besides Groothuis, few others that I am aware of have seriously explored this aspect of Pascal’s work, which I believe deserves more attention among Christian apologists.
To learn more about Jonathan's work, visit JonathanThrelfall.com

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Philosophia Christi Discusses Erik Wielenberg’s "Robust Ethics"

Enjoy digital-only access to the journal!

The Winter 2018 issue leads with an important symposium that evaluates the "Godless Normative Realism" thesis of Erik Wielenberg.

Adam Lloyd Johnson: "Introduction to the American Academy of Religion Panel Forum on Erik Wielenberg’s Robust Ethics"
Erik Wielenberg is the most important contemporary critic of theistic metaethics. Wielenberg maintains that God is unnecessary for objective morality because moral truths exist as brute facts of the universe that have no, and need no, foundation. At times his description of these brute facts make them sound like abstract objects or Platonic forms. At the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting in Boston in November of 2017, we organized an Evangelical Philosophical Society panel to discuss Erik Wielenberg’s book Robust Ethics: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Godless Normative Realism. All five papers presented there are included in this journal. 
William Lane Craig: "Erik Wielenberg’s Metaphysics of Morals"
Focusing on Erik Wielenberg’s metaphysic of morals, I argue that his moral Platonism is, given the presumption against the existence of abstract objects, unmotivated. Moreover, Godless Normative Realism is implausible in light of the mysterious causal relations said to obtain between concrete objects and moral abstracta. His appeals to theism in order to motivate such causal connections is nugatory. If Wielenberg walks back his moral Platonism, then his metaphysics of morals collapses and Godless Normative Realism becomes explanatorily vacuous. 
Tyler Dalton McNabb: "Wile E. Coyote and the Craggy Rocks Below - The Perils of Godless Ethics"
William Lane Craig has defended the following two contentions: (1) If theism is true, we have a sound foundation for morality, and, (2) If theism is false, we do not have a sound foundation for morality. Erik Wielenberg rejects (2). Specifically, Wielenberg argues that naturalists have resources to make sense of objective moral values, moral duties, and moral knowledge. In response to Wielenberg, I defend Craig’s second contention by arguing that Wielenberg’s theory fails to robustly capture our moral phenomenology as well as make intelligible robust moral knowledge. 
Mark C. Murphy: "No Creaturely Intrinsic Value"
In Robust Ethics, Erik Wielenberg criticizes all theistic ethical theories that explain creaturely value in terms of God on the basis that all such formulations of theistic ethics are committed to the denial of the existence of creaturely intrinsic value. Granting Wielenberg’s claim that such theistic theories are committed to the denial of creaturely intrinsic value, this article considers whether theists should take such a denial to be an objectionable commitment of their views. I argue that theists should deny the existence of creaturely intrinsic value, and that such a denial is not an objectionable commitment of theism. 
Adam Lloyd Johnson: "Fortifying the Petard - A Response to One of Erik Wielenberg’s Criticisms of the Divine Command Theory"
Erik Wielenberg argued that William Lane Craig’s attack against nontheistic ethical models is detrimental to Craig’s Divine Command Theory (DCT) as follows: Craig claims it is unacceptable for ethical models to include logically necessary connections without providing an explanation of why such connections hold. Yet Craig posits certain logically necessary connections without providing an explanation of them. Wielenberg concluded that “Craig is hoisted by his own petard.” In this paper I respond to Wielenberg’s criticism by clarifying, and elaborating on, the DCT. I will attempt to provide a preliminary explanation for the logically necessary connections included in the DCT. 
Erik J. Wielenberg: "Reply to Craig, Murphy, McNabb, and Johnson"
In Robust Ethics, I defend a nontheistic version of moral realism according to which moral properties are sui generis, not reducible to other kinds of properties (e.g., natural properties or supernatural properties) and objective morality requires no foundation external to itself. I seek to provide a plausible account of the metaphysics and epistemology of the robust brand of moral realism I favor that draws on both analytic philosophy and contemporary empirical moral psychology. In this paper, I respond to some objections to my view advanced by William Craig, Mark Murphy, Tyler McNabb, and Adam Johnson.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Winter 2018 issue of Philosophia Christi: Pascal's "Abductive Anthropological Argument"

In the Winter 2018 issue of Philosophia Christi, Jonathan Mark Threlfall's lead article addresses "The imago Dei and Blaise Pascal’s Abductive Anthropological Argument." Jonathan is Pastor of Preaching and Teaching at Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, New Hampshire.

Here's the abstract from the article:
Blaise Pascal argued abductively for Christianity by presenting Christian anthropology as the best explanation for the existential paradoxes of human greatness and wretchedness. Surprisingly, however, the doctrine of the imago Dei never surfaces in his Pensées. I argue that considerations arising from the doctrine of the imago Dei strengthen Pascal’s abductive argument by providing more details for and encompassing more instances of humans’ paradoxical duality. Specifically, the imago Dei helps explain the existential paradoxes of happiness and misery, certainty and uncertainty, and human greatness and smallness within the cosmos. Further, its explanatory scope encompasses perplexing behavior and beliefs, including Freud’s Todestriebe, false altruism, conflicting beliefs about the divine, and our search for self-knowledge.
Readers may also be interested in the special issue of Philosophia Christi on "Ramified Natural Theological" and Clifford Williams' book Existential Reasons for Belief in God and his interview at the EPS website.

For as low as $25 a year, sign-up today to be an EPS member (includes print copies of the journal, access to annual and regional meetings, opportunities to present conference papers, and more!). 

Want to receive a digital only version of Philosophia Christi? Special EPS member and non-member pricing and access is now available for individuals via the Philosophy Documentation Center, with over 900 pieces of content to browse and search!

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Humility, Pride, and Christian Virtue Theory

In 2018, Oxford University Press published Humility, Pride, and Christian Virtue Theory by Kent Dunnington. Dunnington is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Biola University.

From the publisher's description of Humility, Pride and Christian Virtue Theory:
Humility, Pride, and Christian Virtue Theory proposes an account of humility that relies on the most radical Christian sayings about humility, especially those found in Augustine and the early monastic tradition. It argues that this was the view of humility that put Christian moral thought into decisive conflict with the best Greco-Roman moral thought. This radical Christian account of humility has been forgotten amidst contemporary efforts to clarify and retrieve the virtue of humility for secular life. Kent Dunnington shows how humility was repurposed during the early-modern era-particularly in the thought of Hobbes, Hume, and Kant-to better serve the economic and social needs of the emerging modern state. This repurposed humility insisted on a role for proper pride alongside humility, as a necessary constituent of self-esteem and a necessary motive of consistent moral action over time. Contemporary philosophical accounts of humility continue this emphasis on proper pride as a counterbalance to humility. By contrast, radical Christian humility proscribes pride altogether. Dunnington demonstrates how such a radical view need not give rise to vices of humility such as servility and pusillanimity, nor need such a view fall prey to feminist critiques of humility. But the view of humility set forth makes little sense abstracted from a specific set of doctrinal commitments peculiar to Christianity. This study argues that this is a strength rather than a weakness of the account since it displays how Christianity matters for the shape of the moral life.
Enjoy this 2015 presentation by Kent for the "Intellectual Humility Capstone Conference":
For more on this topic, see EPS President, Mike Austin's latest book and author interview, along with Ross Inman's (Philosophia Christi Editor) 2017 paper, "On the Moral and Spiritual Contours of the Philosophical Life."

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A Vindication of Politics: On the Common Good and Human Flourishing

In 2019, University of Kansas Press will publish A Vindication of Politics: On the Common Good and Human Flourishing, in the American Political Thought series, by Matthew D. Wright. Wright is associate professor of government in the Torrey Honors Institute, Biola University, La Mirada, California.

From the publisher's description of A Vindication of Politics: 
Is politics strictly a means to an end—something that serves only the interests of individuals and the various associations of civil society such as families and charities? Or is a society’s political common good an end in itself, an essential component of full human flourishing? Responding to recent influential arguments for the instrumentality of the political common good, Matthew D. Wright’s A Vindication of Politics addresses a lacuna in natural law political theory by foregrounding the significance of political culture. Rather than an activity defined by law and government, politics emerges in this account as a cultural enterprise that connects generations and ennobles our common life.
The instrumentalist argument, in Wright’s view, does not give a plausible account of, among other things, the value of patriotism—of the way Americans revere the Founders, for instance, or love the Declaration of Independence, or idolize Abraham Lincoln. Such political affections cannot be explained by an instrumental common good. Loyalty to one’s country is not like a commitment to a telephone company. As nasty as politics can be, we hope for more from it than the quid pro quo of a business transaction. To arrive at an adequate theoretical account of why that is, Wright brings historical theory from Aristotle to Burke into conversation with contemporary theorists from John Finnis to Amy Gutmann. In A Vindication of Politics he develops a case for the intrinsic value of politics in a way that underwrites a healthy patriotism—and strongly suggests that the political common good is a critical part of what it means to be fully human.
The book offers new insight into the nature of the political common good and human sociability as well as their importance for making sense of the fundamental questions of American constitutional identity, principles, and aspirations.

Update: Enjoy this interview with Wright for the blog of the University of Kansas Press.

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Interview with Stephanie Nicole Nordby on 'Divine Predication'

At the November EPS national annual conference in Denver, Colorado, Stephanie Nicole Nordby was awarded 'best paper' for the 2018 EPS Graduate Student Prize. The prized paper, "Divine Predication, Direct Reference, and the doctrines of classical theism," was also presented, in part, at the annual conference.

Currently, Stephanie is a scholar with the Logos Institute, in which she is pursuing a project that aims to "articulate a plausible way of understanding descriptions of God in Scripture that integrates recent work in biblical studies, theology, and philosophy of language." With Jonathan Rutledge, she is also co-host of Pogos, the podcast of the Logos Institute [iTunes; Soundcloud], and she is the lead editor for the Institute's blog, BLogos.

Enjoy the following interview with Stephanie, both as a snapshot into her overall project and as a glimpse into her sense of calling with her scholarship.

You are interested in philosophy of religion, philosophy of language and issues of analytic and exegetical theology. How did you become interested in those areas as a Christian? 
I’ve always been interested in big questions, even as a child. It wasn’t until I met my spouse, Kevin, that I began to see the value of analytic philosophy. Kevin had majored in philosophy at Chapel Hill, and it became obvious to me that his training as a philosopher contributed to his ability to think critically about things that mattered to me as a Christian: how to reason about God, interpret Scripture, and think theologically. As a result, I decided that I wanted to be trained in philosophy before I pursued my first passion, biblical interpretation. As it turned out, I fell in love with philosophy, too, along the way. The interests you mentioned are a natural marriage for me: Philosophy of religion is a field in which scholars consider what reason can tell us about God; philosophy of language looks at the relationship between language and what we know and what exists; and analytic and exegetical theology is the application of analytic philosophy and biblical exegesis to theology. 
With your studies at the Logos Institute, what are the core issues you are trying to address with your research and writing? 
Right now I am looking at a particularly interesting movement in New Testament studies, the “Early High Christology Movement.” Scholars like Richard Bauckham, Larry Hurtado, and N.T. Wright (just to name a few) made significant contributions to how we interpret the beliefs of early Christians and the authors of the New Testament. Importantly, they contend (against many in the academy) that many of the early witnesses testify to belief in a divine Jesus. However, the way in which these Christological beliefs are articulated in the early texts is significantly different (at least, superficially) from many of the Christological claims generated by the Church Fathers and historical theology. My work tries to tease out the philosophical and theological dimensions of this early high Christology in order to get a better handle on how we can best understand the claims and beliefs in the earliest witnesses to the divine Christ. 
What is the theory of divine predications and its philosophy of language that you seek to advance? 
I subscribe to a univocal theory of divine predications, an extremely unpopular view among philosophers and theologians. (Although I have some excellent bedfellows like John Duns Scotus!) That is, I hold that at least some of the words we use to describe God apply to him directly, and not only by means of analogy or metaphor. Similar to philosophers like William Alston and Paul Helm, I believe that a Kripkean theory of direct reference can help us understand how our finite, human capacity for language can enable us to univocally apply predicates to a holy God. What makes my view unique is the way in which it relies on religious experience and ordinary accounts of how we speak about things we don’t understand. An important aspect of my view is that theological language is actually not that different from our language about other real phenomena that we don’t fully understand, like the frontiers of science. 
What do you see are the benefits and challenges to your view? 
One of the biggest challenges to my view is that it forces you to take religious experience extremely seriously. The evidential merit of religious experience has faced some major challenges in the last century, and there are many philosophers and theologians who think that religious experience is either empirically useless, or else something that cannot generate meaningful speech due to the underlying epistemic limitations of religious experience. This is a challenge I’m willing to take on, though, because I think a theistic realist must take religious experience seriously. I think my view has several benefits. (Of course—that is why I’m attracted to it!) For one, it sidesteps a host of problems related to analogical predication, including apophaticism. Second, it shows how we can engage in meaningful theological speech while holding to many key doctrines of the Christian faith, such as belief in God’s transcendence and holiness. Third, I think it reflects much of how the Scriptures and early church seemed to think and talk about Jesus and God in that it treats God like he is available to human perception and speech acts, while also affirming his otherness. 
How do accounts of first-person vs. second-person vs. third-person knowledge figure into your theory? 
In one sense, first-person knowledge (or, to avoid some of the technicalities that can come with terms like ‘knowledge’ in epistemology, it might be better to speak about experience or perception) is very important for my theory. That is because (as I mentioned above) I take religious experience to be very important when it comes to the metaphysical grounding of the words we use, especially when it comes to referring to and naming God. However, as I mention in my EPS paper, the way in which we arrive at our understanding about God and the world he created is through narrative. The Scriptures, for example, often make use of stories instead of more formal theological propositions to communicate ideas about God. Linda Zagzebski points out that some objects of human experience, like the moral features of the universe, seem to be more readily understood or described when exemplified in story, and Eleonore Stump makes an argument that there is something called “second-personal knowledge” that is conveyed through narrative. I combine these positions to argue that narrative opens the door to knowledge of things that cannot necessarily be defined, or at the very least, defined in full; as a result, we can engage in meaningful speech about God’s holiness, transcendence, etc. 
How have you found the works of William Alston, Eleonore Stump and Linda Zagzebski to be significant to your philosophy and theology interests? 
These three philosophers (and I would add Nicholas Wolterstorff as well) have been incredibly influential to my work. William Alston is best known in philosophy of religion circles, perhaps, for his work on religious experience; however, I’ve found his work on religious language (most of which can be found in the collection of essays Divine Nature and Human Language) to be the most interesting of his work. While I disagree with his account of concepts, I think his work on reference was groundbreaking, especially in light of the theological climate at the time it was published. Eleonore Stump is brilliant on so many fronts, but perhaps what I most appreciate about her work is the depth of her knowledge of Scripture and the sensitivity with which she approaches the complexities of religious texts. This can be difficult to find among analytic philosophers, but Stump never fails to bring fresh perspective, such as the one I mentioned in your prior question about second person knowledge, to her treatment of the Bible. Nicholas Wolterstorff is another major influence; Divine Discourse is the first book I recommend to colleagues interested in the philosophy of Scripture. Linda Zagzebski, of course, is my most significant influence, as I had the good fortune to study under her supervision for my PhD in philosophy. Linda’s recent Exemplarist Virtue Theory is a magnum opus, in my view; in it, she deftly combines insights from ethics, metaphysics, and social sciences to contribute a truly original virtue theory. However, it was her earlier work, Divine Motivation Theory, that originally stimulated my thinking about religious language. In it, Zagzebski observes that the Imitatio Christi is underrepresented in Christian ethical traditions, and she argues for a theory of ethics that begins with considering Jesus as the divine exemplar of perfect moral features. This triggered my thinking about how we perceive, understand, and talk about Jesus’s divine features. Of course, her work on direct reference had a very influential role as well. Presently, I am lucky enough to be supervised by Oliver Crisp as I complete my second PhD in theology. I had long admired Crisp while studying philosophy, as he is a capable philosopher in addition to being a trained theologian, so his work is useful to me as a model of how to combine my analytic sensibilities with my theological project. More recently, though, I’ve been gaining an appreciation for how Crisp is a key voice for a sophisticated and traditioned Protestant theology: He manages to articulate profound reflection on theology that is accessible to the 21st century church, while still finding and preserving the best insights from the Christian tradition. 
Given your interests and understanding of the relevant literature, what do you recommend for future work, especially at the intersection of philosophical theology and how we read scripture and communicate about how we encounter God? 
I would like to see more philosophers and theologians engage with questions about the canon and interpretation of Scripture. There was a series of excellent works at the recent turn of the century by Richard Swinburne, Nicholas Wolterstorff, William J. Abraham, Paul Helm and Eleonore Stump, among others. These works, though, far from exhaust the issues that should be of interest to Christians. There is much more to be said about the authority of and objections to the canon, the meaning and nature of inspiration, and the process of biblical interpretation. Wolterstorff especially raises a host of questions about what exactly constitutes God’s speech in Divine Discourse. His arguments about appropriated speech could launch a thousand books about divine speech and speech in general! I am also very excited about the resurgence of interest in religious experience in philosophy, but I think there is more work to be done in theology and philosophy in this area. Importantly, I think that evidentialist critiques of religious experience should be reconsidered, and I’d like to see more philosophers and theologians draw on some of the interesting work on models and epistemology in philosophy of science and philosophy of mind/cognitive science.
To enjoy more work on philosophy of religion issues, become a subscriber to the journal, Philosophia Christior become a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society [includes annual print subscription to the journal], along with many FREE articles at the EPS website.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Eleonore Stump on the "Atonement" and William Lane Craig's Reply to Stump

In 2018, Oxford University Press will publish Atonement by Eleonore Stump, as part of their Oxford Studies in Analytic Theology series. Eleonore Stump is the Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University. She is also Honorary Professor at Wuhan University and at the Logos Institute, St Andrews, and a Professorial Fellow at Australian Catholic University.

From the publisher's description of Atonement:
The doctrine of the atonement is the distinctive doctrine of Christianity. Over the course of many centuries of reflection, highly diverse interpretations of the doctrine have been proposed. In the context of this history of interpretation, Eleonore Stump considers the doctrine afresh with philosophical care. Whatever exactly the atonement is, it is supposed to include a solution to the problems of the human condition, especially its guilt and shame. Stump canvasses the major interpretations of the doctrine that attempt to explain this solution and argues that all of them have serious shortcomings. In their place, she argues for an interpretation that is both novel and yet traditional and that has significant advantages over other interpretations, including Anselm's well-known account of the doctrine. In the process, she also discusses love, union, guilt, shame, forgiveness, retribution, punishment, shared attention, mind-reading, empathy, and various other issues in moral psychology and ethics.
Enjoy this interview with Stump about her book:
Here's a multi-part series of clips from Stump where she articulates her view of the atonement
See also William Lane Craig's critique of Stump's critique of "penal substitutionary atonement theories"
 

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