I get asked: “What type of philosopher are you?” Well, I’m not
1. A classical philosopher. I’m sympathetic to the big questions this school asks. But the best of these denied the eternal power of God and instead set up a system where God is co-eternal and our highest good is an otherworldly beatific vision.
We are each of us dying. Even philosophers. Socrates said that the purpose of philosophy is to learn to die well. He also lamented that things do not last. While he was bold about the options facing him in death in the Apology, at the end of his own life he covered his face so that his disciples could not see him lose confidence.
First Published: 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Jesus Christ, Eternal God: Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter, Stephen H. Webb, Oxford University Press, 2012
In his newest book, Stephen Webb has once again demonstrated his ability to range over the history of theology, engage in doctrinal analysis, work on inter-religious disputes, and critically engage current questions. This is a book that presents us with Webb’s analysis of the history of Christology and the Trinity, and his engagement with the thinking of philosophers and theologians from Plato to Aquinas to Barth. There are many portions of this book that I would have my undergraduates read for an introduction to otherwise difficult philosophers and because of Webb’s clarity of writing and often humorous and flavorful style.
First Published in: History and Sociology of Religion, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-8028-6389-8), vii + 272 pp., pb $20.00
Individually, these books are an informative look at two influential thinkers in American religion. Together, they serve as bookends to a period of American history in which Evangelicalism emphasized a particular perspective of soteriology that minimizes the intellect. What makes this such an interesting study is that both Edwards and Schaeffer made significant use of the intellect as opposed to much of what goes on between their times. In some sense, Jonathan Edwards set the standard for American intellectual religiosity so that much of what comes later is compared back to him on that plane. On the other hand, Schaeffer is credited as reinvigorating the life of the intellect among Evangelicals, and many of the Christian scholars who work in America in the decades after Schaeffer trace their own motivation to his work. This is revelatory of how Evangelical American’s understand the ‘intellect’, both those who emphasize it and those who downplay it.
First Published in “Theology, Ethics, and Philosophy: The New Atheists: The Twighlight of Reason & the War on Religion
Abstract: This paper considers work by Christopher Hitchens, who is part of the group called the ‘New Atheists’, and a response to this by Tina Beattie. The concern of Hitchens is to alert his readers to the problems that arise from fideistic belief, and his proposed solution in common sense naturalism. The author argues that while Hitchens does raise important questions about fideism, he himself is a fideist in his claims about reality. Far from being new, these are the same claims as held by ancient materialists: all of reality can be reduced to atoms in motion. Also considered is Tina Beattie’s analysis and response to the New Atheists. Her cogent analysis is helpful, although her own proposal to resolve the debate encounters difficulties similar to those attending fideism.
First Published: EBSCO Publishing: eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 11/26/2020
Down the hall from my office are numerous pictures from the Schwemberger Collection. Many of these portray Navajo children in school uniforms, or Navajo men in baseball outfits. But next to these are also images of the Navajo in traditional clothes or at work at customary looms. Although these photographs are a few generations old, the impression is that there is lasting harm and division continuing into the present. There remain disagreements about ways of life. Behind these are disagreements about more basic beliefs, worldview disputes. To get schoolchildren to dress in a specific way is not to get them to agree to a specific worldview. How can agreement be reached? The following will consider how religious traditions have come into conflict, and the concrete ways this has affected Native American religions and ways of life. This chapter will explore 20th Century Religious responses by Native Americans as they seek to find an identity for their religions. This search sometimes includes a reliance on tradition (usually oral tradition) and stories from the past that have largely been shaped by colonialism. It also includes attempts to synthesize European religions with Native customs and understanding. After considering general trends, special attention will be given to the experience of the Hopi people in their contact with the United States. What we have is a picture of communities in the search for meaning while wrestling with external challenges that brought about changes that dislocated these communities from their past and therefore from each of their unique traditions.
The Free Will Defense to the problem of evil represents part of an entire approach to thinking about Christianity. Its assumptions produce intuitions about what it means to be free, responsible, and to love God. These are then used to interpret key themes in Christianity about why God created, the Fall, and redemption from sin. Specifically, the human will is made the focus and center-piece. The claim is that this will is only free and responsible if it could have done otherwise than it actually did, all things being exactly the same. God suspends his sovereignty and gives sovereignty to humans so that they can freely respond to him and love him. Because of the Fall and continued sin, God offers redemption to all persons who will freely respond to the gift.