Continuing discussion.

EPS Blog

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

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Hazards of Self-Promotion

Since listening to JP's reception talk at the annual EPS meeting in New Orleans, periodically I have been confronted with thoughts regarding one of his points -- the third I believe. It had to do with proper motives for our work or should I be more forthright and say our calling (my word, not his). What has challenged me is how easy it is to be subtly captivated by misguided motives even when doing what is good --- particular for those of us in the academy. The particular motive of which I speak is self-promotion. It is when our ministries are shaped by the desire to be recognized by others who we think to be ahead of us urges us to get their attention and let them know how much we know. It is like the person who goes to the party and while talking to one person is constantly casting his eye about the crowd to see if there is someone more important to talk to. Or, manipulating a situation so you can place yourself in optimum relationship to some important person.

One way this attitude reveals itself is being obsessed with knowing the right people and making sure they know who you are, and networking only for advancement and recognition. Another is that the classroom becomes a place where the professor tries to impress the student with what and who he knows instead of a passion to teach Truth for their education and edification -- to see the teaching as his ministry to the Church, the Body of Christ.

Such dangers present themselves to all of us and it requires daily vigilance to deny their grip on our lives and hence our ministries. It is so easy to allow the air of professionalism to smother a passion for the Truth in the Spirit of Christ --- a passion for Truth which is a passion for Christ who is the Truth. Of course, we want to do our very best in the work and networking is not wrong, but it should not be motivated merely for recognition or praise, but as a testimony of faithfulness to the risen Christ who has called us as his witnesses.

In addition, the unhealthy attitude of self - promotion encourages a very narrow view of Christian ministry where my discipline is all that concerns me -- we do not see our work as simply a part of the whole. Instead, one labors as if all that matters is what he is doing. For example, thinking that apologetics operates as a stand alone work. In this case, it makes apologetics (using apologetics as an example) more of a badge I wear instead of a life I live. The end is that the individual work tends to be fragmented and selfish while the work of Christ as a whole suffers. This also often makes us very territorial in the academy. We end up talking only to ourselves.

I suppose some of my thoughts come because of my age. I remember being taught by men and women some 45 years ago when I became a Christian. I am still challenged by their dedication, sacrifice, and deep concern for me -- the new Christian to be shaped into the image of Christ. They taught me by word, attitude and lifestyle. They had a passion for Truth (which is a passion for Christ) that was so focused that it consumed their very being--- a focus I think worth imitating. Recognition as a chief motivation for being in the work was unknown to them. Ideas were important, even necessary, but not as something used as rungs on a ladder to recognition, but as guidance in life for godly living. As I begin the new year, my prayer is that I will be vigilant in auditing my motives that it might be that the love of Christ alone moves me forward in the work.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Christian Worldview Integration: Interview with J.P. Moreland (part two)

We continue our interview with J.P. Moreland about the InterVarsity Press Christian Worldview Integration series, which he and Frank Beckwith are co-editing. In part one of our interview, Moreland talked about the meaning and significance of conceptual integration and its relevancy to Christian philosophy work.

Over the last twenty years, there has been important progress made toward Christian work that integrates psychology and spiritual formation. As a trained philosopher with tremendous appreciation for Christian spiritual formation work, what might further integration work look like between Christian philosophy and spiritual formation?

There are two areas where Christian philosophy can help.  First, Christian philosophers can work out theories of knowledge within which spiritual formative claims can be taken as sources of knowledge of reality, specifically, of how humans flourish.  Second, they can work out views of human persons according to which spiritual formation is seen as laying hold of the real nature of human persons and their functioning, e.g., by rooting virtue ethics in the nature of human personhood rather than seeing it as “grounded” in tradition.

If Christians neglect to engage in integration work, what are the costs or consequences?

We will become increasingly marginalized in the culture, Christian ideas will not be taken as cognitively respectable claims about the real world, and people will place Christian ideas in what Francis Schaeffer used to call “the upper story,” a non-factual realm  forever isolated from rational scrutiny.

How and why is integration work interrelated with Christian apologetics work?

Integration goes beyond apologetics in that integration should lead to the exploration and discovery of truths in one’s field that would not be readily available to secular thinkers without the aid of scripture.  But integration also involves apologetics in which defeaters of Christianity are removed and positive evidence is provided for a Christian truth-claim relevant to one’s fields, and integration also involved polemics—the practice of criticizing alternative worldviews that shape one’s field of study.

Over the years, you’ve not only been a scholar, public speaker, pastor/church planter and author, but you’ve had several opportunities to be an advisor or consultant for various organizations and institutions. Let me ask you to put on your advisory hat and have you speak to various groups of people about their integration efforts.

What are the top three issues or concerns that Christian faculty should confront when attempting to integrate their Christian beliefs with their discipline? 

First, is there is non-empirical knowledge, extra-scientific knowledge of reality evident in my field.  Second, are there immaterial aspects of reality in my field of study, e.g., aesthetic beauty, normative ethical claims, linguistic meanings, mathematical objects, free action, and so forth.  Third, how would I as a Christian practice my discipline in a way different from a non-Christian and how would I justify a Christian approach?  The Christian Worldview Integration series takes these issues up in various fields and seeks to lead by example.

What are the top three words of encouragement that you would give to undergraduate and graduate students, who not only seek to experience how Christianity bears upon the formation of their worldview, but who want their work in knowledge to bear upon their lives and their relationships?

First, remember that this sort of integrative work is already being done, for example, in the field of philosophy, with the result that great gains for the Kingdom have been made in philosophy.  So this can be done with great impact.  Second, realize that this sort of work is part of your calling in life.  What if Jesus asked you, “Why don’t you honor me in your discipline?”, would you have an answer for Him?  Third, integration should be viewed as an adventure and not just as a duty.  It’s really exciting work.  And don’t forget, the Christian Worldview Integration series is an attempt to provide resources for getting involved in this area of discipleship.

What are the top three pieces of advice that you would give to funders (whether individual donors or corporate donors) of a Christian university about the significance of Christian worldview integration work?

First, funds need to be given in areas of missions and development that are underfunded, and this area of discipleship fits that description.  Second, we need to focus funding on leadership development for cultural engagement and this area of discipleship fits that description.  Finally, we need to fund areas of activity that seek to penetrate the culture in the world of ideas and this area of discipleship fits that description.

In the years to come, what would you like to see happen in the area of integration and this series among self-identified Christian universities, colleges, and seminaries?

I would like to see centers of integration developed and funded at these schools, and I would also like to see the Christian Worldview Integration series adopted as key texts in classes around the country; I would also like to see the series expanded from the nine volumes currently being produced to at least fifteen volumes.

You can learn more about the IVP Christian Worldview Integration series by going here. J.P. Moreland is the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Biola University and Frank Beckwith is the Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies at Baylor University.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Manhatten Declaration, Natural Law & Original Sin

R.J. Snell,  Professor of Philosophy and Director of Eastern University's Philosophy program, comments on the Thomistic conception of reason, natural law and sin in the "Manhattan Declaration":

There is no cheery optimism in Aquinas with respect to reason. The human is disordered; one might even say we suffer a totality of depravity since not a single human capacity or function remains in the state of original justice. Yes, humans are utterly messed up, but they are still human beings, and as human beings, as rational animals, they still possess the natural law, for to lose the natural law would be a loss of humanity, actually to become a beast. Not, that is, to act bestially—humans do so—but to be a beast. And this has not happened, since original sin does not change our essence—nor could it. The basic human goods remain the same basic human goods for Adam and for Hitler, and the flourishing of human persons qua persons has not changed. But sin does change our willingness to function as we ought, as we can all attest.

There is, then, no contradiction between the natural law and original sin, at least as understood by Thomas Aquinas. The “Manhattan Declaration,” therefore, remains the declaration of cosmopolis, for insofar as the declaration is reasonable it is reasonable for all, even us sinners.
You can read the full text of Snell's comments by going here.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Analytic Theology: Interview with Editors Crisp and Rea (part one)

We are happy to feature an interview with Oliver Crisp and Michael Rea about their important co-edited volume, Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology (Oxford, 2009). Below is part one of two.

How did this book come about? Does the timing of the book’s release, compared to if it were released 10-15 years ago, indicate how philosophical theology work is maturing?

Crisp: Believe it or not, the book came about over a cup of coffee. In 2004-2005 I had a post-doc at the Center for Philosophy of Religion at Notre Dame where Mike and I got to know each other. One of the best things about that year was the time I was able to spend talking to philosophers. Mike and I became firm friends and often spent time discussing philosophical-theological issues. One afternoon over a coffee on campus we were talking about the state of contemporary theology and how strange it was that most theologians didn’t really access contemporary analytic philosophy in the same way that they accessed continental philosophy, especially given the renaissance in philosophy of religion since the 1960s and then the turn to Christian doctrine amongst analytics from around the early 1980s. We thought that we could put together a set of essays that showcased a properly analytic approach to theology – and that is where it all began.

Rea:  Part of what struck us, too, was the fact that philosophers were now talking quite a bit about topics like the trinity and the incarnation that fall squarely within the domain of theology, and it seemed odd to us that, by and large, philosophers and theologians working the same topics were nevertheless almost totally ignoring one another.  It was clear to us that part of the explanation had to do with a sort of disdain among theologians for analytic approaches to theology, and a similar sort of disdain among philosophers for the sort of continental/postmodern approaches that seemed to dominate theology.  We thought it would be good to explore this methodological divide.

As to the question of timing, I think that this kind of book has found a receptive audience because contemporary analytic philosophical theology has become a serious concern. So, yes, it seems to me that its publication is an indication of the maturing literature in the field. But it is also interesting that theologians are beginning to think about analytic philosophy too (e.g. the work of William Abraham – one of our contributors in the book – and Bruce Marshall). I hope that AT may be a contribution that stimulates more theological interest in this field.

What accounts for the turn toward “the explication of core doctrines in Christian theology” by philosophers of religion that self-identify with the so-called “analytic tradition”?

Rea: Part of the reason is surely just the fact that (a) quite a lot of the people working in contemporary philosophy of religion have Christian backgrounds, and (b) by the mid- 1980s, the stock issues in ‘generic’ philosophy of religion—questions about the rationality of religious belief, traditional arguments for the existence of God, and the like—had been pretty thoroughly explored.  I suspect, too, that part of what has happened in philosophy of religion is similar to what seems to have happened in other naturally interdisciplinary sub-fields like philosophy of science and the philosophy of mind:  for a while, philosophers work on certain paradigmatic philosophical issues that they think they can explore on their own; but as the conversations become increasingly sophisticated, they find themselves drawn more deeply into the literature and the problems of the related discipline (particular sciences in the case of philosophy of science, and empirical psychology in the case of the philosophy of mind).

Crisp: It might also be worth saying that around this time there was a renewed interest in historic questions raised by philosophical theologians of the past, particularly the medievals. And the sorts of issues they were interested in often involve matters with a direct bearing on central Christian claims such as the Trinity, Incarnation and Atonement. I suppose it is also true that the renewal of metaphysics in the 1970s meant that such concrete metaphysical issues in Christian theology became much more attractive as areas to be mined by analytics than had previously been the case. The success of analytic philosophy of religion opened up the field of philosophical theology, as it opened up Christian philosophy more generally.

Al Plantinga likes to joke that much of the most interesting theology of the past twenty years has been done by analytics, not by professional theologians. But I think there is more than a grain of truth to this. Analytics are often excoriated for being ‘ahistorical’. But in fact, I think that analytics involved in philosophical theology have shown increasing historical sensitivity borne out of a deep engagement with particular theologians, including the medievals, the magisterial reformers and some post-Reformation figures like Molina and Edwards. This engagement with the tradition and concern to draw upon historic Christian discussion of doctrine in order to argue for key dogmatic claims is, I think, a very welcome development, and one theologians may benefit from.

How should philosophy in general, and philosophy of religion in particular, integrate with theology?

Crisp: It seems to me that the boundaries between philosophical theology and systematic theology are rather porous. Systematic theology always involves appealing to some sort of metaphysical claim or other – a matter that the American Lutheran theologian, Robert Jenson, makes plain in his Systematic Theology. But I am not sure that ‘integration’ is the right word. Bridge-building might be more like it. How can bridges be built between analytics and theologians that might be mutually beneficial and that might mean there is more traffic between the two disciplines? That is an important question, I think. And it is not all one-way traffic, either. There is important theological work that analytics can benefit from, e.g. the recent re-evaluation of St Augustine of Hippo by people like Michel Barnes and Lewis Ayres.

The ‘how’ question is partly about more discussion between analytics and theologians and more time being given to move beyond facile characterizations of the ‘other’ discipline. This is beginning to happen too, e.g. the Logos conferences that Mike has been organizing through the Center for Philosophy of Religion at Notre Dame, this year in conjunction with Dean Zimmerman at Rutgers, on the model of the Metaphysical Mayhem conferences. Last year’s conference was a real success. I’ve been at venues where mutual animosity between philosophers and theologians has prevailed. This was a forum where there was (I felt) evidence of a real desire to engage across these two disciplines. There is an AAR session on AT planned for later this year. It will be interesting to see to what extent it gets a wider hearing in the ‘Religion’ academy.

Rea: Here too I think that the analogy with other interdisciplinary subfields is useful.  How did philosophy of mind integrate with psychology?  How did philosophy of physics integrate with physics?  To the extent that these subfields have integrated with their sister disciplines, the integration has largely come about by experts coming to realize that awareness of what is going on in the sister discipline is importantly relevant to their own research.  The main obstacle to this realization in the case of phil religion and theology is just the methodological divide:  by and large, philosophers of religion and theologians have tended to view their relevance to one another in about the same way that analytic metaphysicians and Heideggerians have tended to view their relevance to one another.  And the only way to overcome the methodological divide (I think) is to explore it, talk about it, and see how deep it really runs. 

What is analytic theology?

Crisp: Analytic theology is the theological appropriation of the tools and methods of analytic philosophical theology for properly theological ends. It is really about bringing the work analytics have been doing into the theological fold. There is little that is new in this, apart from the fact that theologians are now engaged in work that is consciously appropriating the literature and methods of analytics for their own constructive theological work.

Rea: One criticism of our book (in Gordon Graham’s review in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews) is that we haven’t sufficiently differentiated analytic theology from (analytic) philosophical theology.  This strikes me as a rather odd objection, in light of what I say in the introduction.  (Here I repeat some remarks I made over at Prosblogion when the review came out.)  As I see it, analytic theology overlaps analytic philosophical theology--in fact, there's not a whole lot included in the latter that wouldn't also be included in the former. Graham notes that if that is true, then "analytic theology is nothing new, and has been carried on with vigor for the last four decades or more". Fair enough, but I never claimed that analytic theology is anything new. As I see it, the most important (intended) contribution of the volume is just to get people reflecting on this already-familiar enterprise as a legitimate way of doing "theology" rather than simply as a form of applied "philosophy". And even this idea (i.e., that what analytic philosophers of religion have been doing for decades is a perfectly legitimate form of theological theorizing) isn't really new either--as anyone can see by looking at systematic theologies from the early 20th Century and before.

The book is divided into four parts. The first part consists of chapters under the title, “In Defense of Analytic Theology.” How do the chapters by Oliver Crisp, William Abraham, and Randal Rauser contribute to this discussion?

Crisp: The first two chapters are articulations of AT. Mike’s Introduction is really a third attempt to get at AT too. In fact, it is the best piece of the three. My essay is really an attempt to argue that AT is not something theologians should shrug off as peripheral or unimportant. I also try to show that analytic theology is not necessarily about a narrow set of metaphysical commitments – that one could be an analytic theologian and take a rather different tack from the one I prefer. William Abraham’s piece is more about what analytic theology as a species of systematic theology might look like. It is a more ‘constructive’ piece of work than mine, in some respects. By contrast, Randal’s paper is a sort of ground-clearing exercise. Using the work of Harry Frankfurt, he asks whether certain contemporary theologies are locked into a perpetual bull-session aiming at effect rather than at truth.

What further work needs to be done concerning how and why analytic theology can be developed and strengthened in light of the alternatives?

Crisp: I think it would be interesting to engage other theological methods that are the subject of current interest in the literature. For instance, a useful discussion might be had with post-liberal theologians, or with representatives of Radical Orthodoxy. But for the present, I think we need more examples of analytic theology. It is all very well talking about theological method. What we need to see is what analytic theology looks like. I’ve published a monograph on the Incarnation that attempts to begin this [God Incarnate: Explorations in Christology]. Randal has just published a long essay on theological method that is a piece of analytic theology [Theology in Search of Foundations]. And Mike and Tom McCall have just published a collection of essays on the Trinity [Philosophical and Theological Essays on the Trinity] in which there is also evidence of analytic theology being done (especially in Tom’s essay in the volume). I have already mentioned William Abraham’s work, the most recent example of which is his Crossing The Threshold of Divine Revelation. Michael Sudduth has just published his book on Reformed Objections to Natural Theology, which should be of use to analytic theologians since it deals with whole question of natural theology. As the literature expands I hope we will see further discussion with those involved in other approaches to theology.

Rea: I also think that the objections against analytic theology need to be taken a lot more seriously by analytic theologians than they have been.  There are, I think, real worries to be raised about the limits of our abilities to theorize about God; illusions on the part of analytic philosophers about the degree to which they’ve managed to exchange evocative metaphors and other ‘fuzzy’ forms of speech for precision and clarity deserve to be questioned; and so on.  In the introductory essay I made an attempt to articulate some of these objections in a sympathetic and serious way, but I think that there is a lot more that could be done, and then, of course, the objections need to be dealt with.

The chapters of the second part address relevant “historical perspectives” about various issues and concerns relevant to analytic theology’s viability. How do these chapters by John Lamont, Andrew Chignell, Andrew Dole, and Nicholas Wolterstorff contribute to this discussion?

Crisp: The main concern that these essays address is the objection that analytic approaches to matters theological tend to be historically flimsy, or that they end up with a rather anemic, abstracted notion of what Christian theism really consists in. We were also concerned to ensure that key theologians were addressed, because the tradition matters in theology. John Lamont’s piece is a careful attempt to look at some of the Fathers. Andrew Chignell’s piece is concerned with Kant and the Kantian ‘legacy’ for philosophy and theology. Andrew Dole’s piece is on Schleiermacher’s anti-realism. (Tom McCall deals with Karl Barth in the context of his doctrine of Scripture in the third section of AT.) I think that each of these pieces is really terrific. Nick Wolterstorff’s essay is more about the development of analytic philosophical theology. And he makes the point I made earlier that the boundary between analytic philosophical theology and systematic theology is not the hard-and-fast one often presumed.

Are there other historical issues and concerns in this area that would merit further consideration and development?

Crisp: As I have already indicated, there is already a flourishing literature in medieval theology that has been done by analytics. I think it would be good to see more work done on Patristic theology and how this might be brought into the discussion. John Lamont’s essay is a good beginning, but there is much more that could be done in this area by analytics. It would be good to see what analytics could bring to this. It would also be interesting to see more work done on recent (i.e. late-twentieth century) theology. This would be more of a challenge, I think, because so much of this draws upon a continental approach to theology, e.g. the existentialism of Bultmann or John Macquarrie. But perhaps this is an opportunity, a bit like recent analytic work that has been done on Nietzsche – a thinker that does not strike one at first blush as an obvious candidate for an analytic assessment!

Michael Rea is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Director of Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion. Oliver Crisp is a Reader in Theology at Bristol University. Both Rea and Crisp have been contributors to Philosophia Christi. Philosophia Christi has also published philosophical theology theme issues, such as the Winter 2008 book symposium on Abraham's Crossing the Threshold of Divine Revelation or the Winter 2003 issue on the trinity.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christian Worldview Integration: Interview with J.P. Moreland (part one)

InterVarsity Press recently launched a Christian Worldview Integration (CWI) series of books edited by J.P. Moreland and Frank Beckwith. Education for Human Flourishing (Spears and Loomis) and Psychology and the Spirit (Coe and Hall) have already been released, and Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft (Beckwith) will soon be released. Below is part one of two of our interview with Moreland about the series and how to think about conceptual Christian worldview integration.

Currently, what topics are covered and which authors cover the topics in the CWI series?

Paul Nelson, Scot Minnich, Christianity and Biology.
Paul Spears, Steve Loomis, Christianity and Education.
John Woodbridge, Christianity and History.
David Jeffrey, Christianity and Literature.
Francis Beckwith, Christianity and Political Thought.
Garry DeWeese, Christianity and Philosophy.
John Coe, Todd Hall, Christianity and Psychology.
Scott Rae, Kenman Wong, Christianity, Business and Economics

Timothy Muehlhoff, Todd Lewis, Christianity and Communications.

The authors for this series were hand-picked by Frank Beckwith and me precisely because they were in a position (with respect to academic training and biblical fidelity) to do a first-rate job of presenting a fresh perspective on integration and their respective disciplines.  Each author is well-regarded and well-trained in his field and is deeply committed to Christianity in general, and the Bible in particular, as a source of knowledge of reality.

How did the CWI series come about?

I have been burdened for a long time about the lack of books on the integration of Christianity and various fields that take the Bible as a source of knowledge relevant to each field.  Too often, books on integration add a Christian veneer to the information in a discipline with the result that the scriptures do no serious cognitive work in that field.   This series will not be like that.  Each book takes scripture seriously as a source of knowledge relevant to its discipline.

The “integration of faith and learning” has become a slogan, if not a fad of sorts, for many Christian intellectuals and educators. But I get the sense that “integration” as a vision and an endeavor is far more than a slogan or fad for you and this series.

The series focuses on “conceptual integration”, the attempt to blend into an intellectually satisfying worldview the knowledge claims of historic Christianity and the Bible on the one hand, and the knowledge claims of one’s field on the other hand.  I prefer the label “the integration of biblical and disciplinary knowledge-claims, not “the integration of faith and learning,” because the latter implies that the Bible is accepted by a blind act of faith and the information from one’s discipline is actual learning, i.e., real knowledge.  The series seeks to show that the Bible does not contradict what can be shown about the nature of things from extra-biblical sources, and that the Bible provided the Christian with a rich source of knowledge that can do intellectual work in one’s field.

In its best and most sincere effort, how do Christian worldview integration endeavors with academic disciplines tend to go? How does the approach of the series differ from what is typically published in this area?  

Many such efforts take an academic discipline and leave it just as it would be understood by a secular perspective and add a Christian viewpoint that is complementary to it.  While our series agrees that this is one way to do integration, our books are more willing—no, eager!—to allow for direct interaction between the Bible and a field of study, an interaction that can be mutually reinforcing or place the Bible and a claim in a field in tension.  In such cases, we urge the Christian community, following Alvin Plantinga’s advice, to show more self-confidence that is has truth and knowledge in the Bible and does not need to protect scripture from an academic field by making its claim merely complementary to that field.

Is “integration,” ultimately, a philosophical issue with bearing upon other disciplines? How should theology contribute to the conceptual work of philosophy in the area of “Christian integration”?

Part of the very nature of philosophy is to be a second-order discipline that studies the epistemology, metaphysics, concepts, and so forth of other disciplines.  Since integration is such a second-order enterprise, then philosophy is the discipline that will ultimately be involved.  This can be seen in the fact that there are numerous books on the philosophy of x (law, psychology, biology, history) which are in the field of philosophy and written by philosophers.  It is important to see that my claims here have nothing to do with turf issues; they are simply observations about the nature of philosophy vis a vis other fields of study.  The field of theology is best employed by asking theologians to provide holistic, coherent expressions of the biblical and theological data to be factored into integration.

Christian work at the intersection of the sciences is an important area of integration, especially given the authority that scientific knowledge has within Western cultures. Are the positions of "theistic evolution" and "Christian physicalism" the result of proper integration or a failure to understand genuine integration between Christian truth and other disciplines? 

In my opinion and to over simplify a bit, theistic evolution and Christian physicalism adopt the wrong approach to integration, namely, the "complementarian approach" according to which science tells us what is real, how things happened, and so forth, and theology tells us why thing happened and why it matters.  This usually amounts to giving science cognitive authority over theology such that the scientist makes his/her pronouncements and theology must adjust accordingly.  A better approach is called the "direct-interaction view" that allows both fields an equal,  interacting place at the table.  On this view, theology may, in principle, set limits on the metaphysics, etiology, and epistemology of science, requiring Christian scientists to show that the real scientific data do not require a revision of the church’s teaching for centuries.  On this view, it is usually philosophical or methodological naturalism, not the data, that require such (an uneeded) revision.

How should Christians approach, use and present the teaching of scripture when engaging in genuine integration between what the Bible claims and what is claimed by extra-biblical sources of knowledge?

They should look for areas where biblical teaching sheds light on and/or has explanatory power with respect to an extrabiblical proposition that seems reasonable to believe.  They should also seek to remove tensions between the Bible and reasonable beliefs from extra-biblical sources, and look for areas where the latter confirm the former.  In all of this, they should have Christian self-confidence that, properly interpreted, the Bible’s teachings are not just true, but can be known to be true.  Thus, they provide a source of knowledge for doing intellectual work in one’s discipline.

Does the holistic character of discipleship and spiritual formation demand integration? If so, how and why?

We live out what we actually believe in proportion to the strength of belief, and our actions shape our beliefs.  So it is important for Christian character and action that we actually believe the things we claim to believe.  Since it is likely the case that one can change or develop one’s beliefs only indirectly, it becomes important to integrate one’s Christian beliefs/knowledge-claims with reasonable beliefs outside scripture.  This leads to personal unity and integrity where one does not split off his/her Christianity from the rest of his/her beliefs, and one is the same in public as in private.

You can learn more about the IVP Christian Worldview Integration series by going hereJ.P. Moreland is the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Biola University and Frank Beckwith is the Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies at Baylor University.

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