Plantinga on Science, Naturalism, and Faith

Alvin Plantinga is a highly-respected philosopher, respected even by those who disagree with him.  An evangelical, Reformed Christian, Plantinga has written a new book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism.

It has received a glowing review from Thomas Nagel, an atheist–in the New York Review of Books, no less–in which he says that Plantinga’s arguments help him to realize that Christians are, in fact, rational.  And that his own side has some explaining to do.

The gulf in outlook between atheists and adherents of the monotheistic religions is profound. We are fortunate to live under a constitutional system and a code of manners that by and large keep it from disturbing the social peace; usually the parties ignore each other. But sometimes the conflict surfaces and heats up into a public debate. The present is such a time.

One of the things atheists tend to believe is that modern science is on their side, whereas theism is in conflict with science: that, for example, belief in miracles is inconsistent with the scientific conception of natural law; faith as a basis of belief is inconsistent with the scientific conception of knowledge; belief that God created man in his own image is inconsistent with scientific explanations provided by the theory of evolution. In his absorbing new book, Where the Conflict Really Lies, Alvin Plantinga, a distinguished analytic philosopher known for his contributions to metaphysics and theory of knowledge as well as to the philosophy of religion, turns this alleged opposition on its head. His overall claim is that “there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion, but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism.” By naturalism he means the view that the world describable by the natural sciences is all that exists, and that there is no such person as God, or anything like God.

Plantinga’s religion is the real thing, not just an intellectual deism that gives God nothing to do in the world. He himself is an evangelical Protestant, but he conducts his argument with respect to a version of Christianity that is the “rough intersection of the great Christian creeds”—ranging from the Apostle’s Creed to the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles—according to which God is a person who not only created and maintains the universe and its laws, but also intervenes specially in the world, with the miracles related in the Bible and in other ways. It is of great interest to be presented with a lucid and sophisticated account of how someone who holds these beliefs understands them to harmonize with and indeed to provide crucial support for the methods and results of the natural sciences.

Plantinga discusses many topics in the course of the book, but his most important claims are epistemological. He holds, first, that the theistic conception of the relation between God, the natural world, and ourselves makes it reasonable for us to regard our perceptual and rational faculties as reliable. It is therefore reasonable to believe that the scientific theories they allow us to create do describe reality. He holds, second, that the naturalistic conception of the world, and of ourselves as products of unguided Darwinian evolution, makes it unreasonable for us to believe that our cognitive faculties are reliable, and therefore unreasonable to believe any theories they may lead us to form, including the theory of evolution. In other words, belief in naturalism combined with belief in evolution is self-defeating. However, Plantinga thinks we can reasonably believe that we are the products of evolution provided that we also believe, contrary to naturalism, that the process was in some way guided by God.

Nagel gives a very clear summary of Plantinga’s epistemology, which emphasizes that there are different kinds of “warrants” for  beliefs.  Faith itself, Plantinga argues, is such a warrant:

Faith, according to Plantinga, is another basic way of forming beliefs, distinct from but not in competition with reason, perception, memory, and the others. However, it is a wholly different kettle of fish: according to the Christian tradition (including both Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin), faith is a special gift from God, not part of our ordinary epistemic equipment. Faith is a source of belief, a source that goes beyond the faculties included in reason.God endows human beings with a sensus divinitatis that ordinarily leads them to believe in him. (In atheists the sensus divinitatis is either blocked or not functioning properly.)2 In addition, God acts in the world more selectively by “enabling Christians to see the truth of the central teachings of the Gospel.”

If all this is true, then by Plantinga’s standard of reliability and proper function, faith is a kind of cause that provides a warrant for theistic belief, even though it is a gift, and not a universal human faculty. (Plantinga recognizes that rational arguments have also been offered for the existence of God, but he thinks it is not necessary to rely on these, any more than it is necessary to rely on rational proofs of the existence of the external world to know just by looking that there is beer in the refrigerator.)

It is illuminating to have the starkness of the opposition between Plantinga’s theism and the secular outlook so clearly explained. My instinctively atheistic perspective implies that if I ever found myself flooded with the conviction that what the Nicene Creed says is true, the most likely explanation would be that I was losing my mind, not that I was being granted the gift of faith. From Plantinga’s point of view, by contrast, I suffer from a kind of spiritual blindness from which I am unwilling to be cured. This is a huge epistemological gulf, and it cannot be overcome by the cooperative employment of the cognitive faculties that we share, as is the hope with scientific disagreements.

Faith adds beliefs to the theist’s base of available evidence that are absent from the atheist’s, and unavailable to him without God’s special action. These differences make different beliefs reasonable given the same shared evidence. An atheist familiar with biology and medicine has no reason to believe the biblical story of the resurrection. But a Christian who believes it by faith should not, according to Plantinga, be dissuaded by general biological evidence. Plantinga compares the difference in justified beliefs to a case where you are accused of a crime on the basis of very convincing evidence, but you know that you didn’t do it. For you, the immediate evidence of your memory is not defeated by the public evidence against you, even though your memory is not available to others. Likewise, the Christian’s faith in the truth of the gospels, though unavailable to the atheist, is not defeated by the secular evidence against the possibility of resurrection.

via A Philosopher Defends Religion by Thomas Nagel | The New York Review of Books.

Read the whole review.

For the purposes of our discussion, could we make some topics off-limits?  First, please do not dismiss Plantinga as a “theistic evolutionist”; he may be one, but I think that’s too simplistic, and he is also giving some “warrants” for creationism.  Second, let’s not get into the debate here between “evidentialist”  and “presuppositionalist” apologetics.  There is actually some of both here, as Plantinga is supporting the reality of objective evidence as well as the fact–which Lutherans, at least, must not deny–that faith is a gift.  The ultimate cause of atheism, as Plantinga says and as the atheist Nagel admits, is “spiritual blindness.”  Finally, let’s not have any attacks on Plantinga as a Calvinist.  (Comments that violate these terms may be deleted.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fws

    There is actually some of both here, as Plantinga is supporting the reality of objective evidence as well as the fact–which Lutherans, at least, must not deny–that faith is a gift.

    I suggest that this assertion actually attacks the Lutheran Confessions right where it can do the most damage. The article correctly identifies this teaching with St Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin.

    So what is the problem? Where is this view different from Lutheranism and identical to st thomas and Calvin?

    Original Sin.

    The Image of God and Original Righteousness that was totally lost in the Fall.

    To know what was lost, one must correctly identify what existed before the Fall and now is missing in man.

    Lutherans say that everything man had before the fall exists after the fall, in the “natural man” except one thing only. The Image of God and Original Righteousness that was lost, totally so, was…. faith.

    But this is not to say that the natural man lacks faith. Lutherans say that the natural man lacks a true fear, love and trust in God (the content of faith) that is a right knowing of God´s intentions and will and desire … for me personally.

    Natural man has every other kind of faith. Luther and the Lutheran Confessions freely grant that natural man, ALL including atheists(rom 2:15) , know that there is a God, and that he is merciful and good and forgiving. They point out that even Satan has what they call a “historical faith” knowing and believing every single point of the Bible as true. We grant that there are those who not only know, but believe and assent to every doctrine in the Bible and Book of Concord as completely true.

    But they are missing that one thing, that alone, can save, that alone is not a natural gift , as faith can be, but must be super-naturally worked, alone by Two Words, which create a heart-knowing, not just an intellectual assent.

    This faith is born, nurtured and strengthened in the terrors of a troubled conscience and is faith in the two words “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

    This alone is the Baptismal gift of regeneration that are new heart movements of fear, love and trust, and a rock solid heart knowing of the mind and will of God…. for me personally. It is nothing less than the restoration of the Image of God in man, which is also the restoration of Original Righteousness.

    It is, precisely, this distinction of faith vs Faith that separates us Lutherans from both the Reformed and the Roman followers of St Thomas. And this article therefore blurs the very foundational point of departure that Lutherans take from those other two groups.

    An atheist is attracted to Roman/Reformed ration-alism. Splendid. It is also why Lutheran Old Adams are also constantly attracted to Rome and Geneva. Reason runs to this stuff because it makes sense!

    Unfortunately it negates Original Sin.
    To deny that the Image of God was totally lost is to deny Original Sin.
    This aticle .undoes the very heart of Lutheran Theology in the process.

    I would suggest reading St Thomas rather than this man. St Thomas is far more brilliant. And Lutheranism cant really be understood without understanding the thinking of St Thomas whose theology our Apology is intended to be a corrective for. And it is no accident that the Formula is really just a commentary on the Apology, applied to the neo-thomist John Calvin and Melancthonian Lutheranism.

  • fws

    There is actually some of both here, as Plantinga is supporting the reality of objective evidence as well as the fact–which Lutherans, at least, must not deny–that faith is a gift.

    I suggest that this assertion actually attacks the Lutheran Confessions right where it can do the most damage. The article correctly identifies this teaching with St Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin.

    So what is the problem? Where is this view different from Lutheranism and identical to st thomas and Calvin?

    Original Sin.

    The Image of God and Original Righteousness that was totally lost in the Fall.

    To know what was lost, one must correctly identify what existed before the Fall and now is missing in man.

    Lutherans say that everything man had before the fall exists after the fall, in the “natural man” except one thing only. The Image of God and Original Righteousness that was lost, totally so, was…. faith.

    But this is not to say that the natural man lacks faith. Lutherans say that the natural man lacks a true fear, love and trust in God (the content of faith) that is a right knowing of God´s intentions and will and desire … for me personally.

    Natural man has every other kind of faith. Luther and the Lutheran Confessions freely grant that natural man, ALL including atheists(rom 2:15) , know that there is a God, and that he is merciful and good and forgiving. They point out that even Satan has what they call a “historical faith” knowing and believing every single point of the Bible as true. We grant that there are those who not only know, but believe and assent to every doctrine in the Bible and Book of Concord as completely true.

    But they are missing that one thing, that alone, can save, that alone is not a natural gift , as faith can be, but must be super-naturally worked, alone by Two Words, which create a heart-knowing, not just an intellectual assent.

    This faith is born, nurtured and strengthened in the terrors of a troubled conscience and is faith in the two words “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

    This alone is the Baptismal gift of regeneration that are new heart movements of fear, love and trust, and a rock solid heart knowing of the mind and will of God…. for me personally. It is nothing less than the restoration of the Image of God in man, which is also the restoration of Original Righteousness.

    It is, precisely, this distinction of faith vs Faith that separates us Lutherans from both the Reformed and the Roman followers of St Thomas. And this article therefore blurs the very foundational point of departure that Lutherans take from those other two groups.

    An atheist is attracted to Roman/Reformed ration-alism. Splendid. It is also why Lutheran Old Adams are also constantly attracted to Rome and Geneva. Reason runs to this stuff because it makes sense!

    Unfortunately it negates Original Sin.
    To deny that the Image of God was totally lost is to deny Original Sin.
    This aticle .undoes the very heart of Lutheran Theology in the process.

    I would suggest reading St Thomas rather than this man. St Thomas is far more brilliant. And Lutheranism cant really be understood without understanding the thinking of St Thomas whose theology our Apology is intended to be a corrective for. And it is no accident that the Formula is really just a commentary on the Apology, applied to the neo-thomist John Calvin and Melancthonian Lutheranism.

  • fws

    The Lutheran Confessions say that the Image of God and Original Righteousness that was Lost was true faith that is the right knowing of Gods Mind and will towards ME.
    Only Baptism and a supernatural act can restore this Faith

    And Original Sin? That would be faith!
    It is the faith that is natural man. Natural Man is not just a block of wood or stone that God acts upon to grant Faith as a gift.
    Natural man is full of a faith that viciously seeks to place it´s fear, love and trust in anything at all BUT God.
    It is precisely this misdirected, blinded, broken, faith that is what makes natural man an enemy of God. Not only Atheists have this as the article wrongly suggests….
    This false faith that the bible calls lusting/coveting (same Greek word for both english words), or idolatry.

    Rome and Geneva identify the Image of God and Original Righeousness with man´s defective lack of conformity to the Divine Design, Natural Law, etc. .. ie… what is missing is Obedience rather than Faith. So restoration of the Image is ultimately, teleologically, and soteriologically about … the Divine Law. Lutherans say it is about Faith… and so .. Gospel.

    This author, Geneva and Rome say that natural man still has the gift of faith and can draw near to God etc of his own natural powers.

  • fws

    The Lutheran Confessions say that the Image of God and Original Righteousness that was Lost was true faith that is the right knowing of Gods Mind and will towards ME.
    Only Baptism and a supernatural act can restore this Faith

    And Original Sin? That would be faith!
    It is the faith that is natural man. Natural Man is not just a block of wood or stone that God acts upon to grant Faith as a gift.
    Natural man is full of a faith that viciously seeks to place it´s fear, love and trust in anything at all BUT God.
    It is precisely this misdirected, blinded, broken, faith that is what makes natural man an enemy of God. Not only Atheists have this as the article wrongly suggests….
    This false faith that the bible calls lusting/coveting (same Greek word for both english words), or idolatry.

    Rome and Geneva identify the Image of God and Original Righeousness with man´s defective lack of conformity to the Divine Design, Natural Law, etc. .. ie… what is missing is Obedience rather than Faith. So restoration of the Image is ultimately, teleologically, and soteriologically about … the Divine Law. Lutherans say it is about Faith… and so .. Gospel.

    This author, Geneva and Rome say that natural man still has the gift of faith and can draw near to God etc of his own natural powers.

  • James Sarver

    Plantiga grants me warrant for my belief that the Nicene Creed is true as well as that there is beer in the fridge. I am certified as sane for believing that my spiritual and physical needs are met. He’s my new best bud!

  • James Sarver

    Plantiga grants me warrant for my belief that the Nicene Creed is true as well as that there is beer in the fridge. I am certified as sane for believing that my spiritual and physical needs are met. He’s my new best bud!

  • Michael B.

    There’s a very wide chasm between atheistic naturalism and Christian theism. When somebody writes an article implying otherwise, I smell B.S.

  • Michael B.

    There’s a very wide chasm between atheistic naturalism and Christian theism. When somebody writes an article implying otherwise, I smell B.S.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    Haven’t read the book yet, but in the picture Plantinga looks like something a true philosopher should definitely look like!

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    Haven’t read the book yet, but in the picture Plantinga looks like something a true philosopher should definitely look like!

  • trotk

    Michael B, I think you misunderstood.

  • trotk

    Michael B, I think you misunderstood.

  • SKPeterson

    Frank – Before you hit Plantinga over the head with the Confessions, you need to remember that the “Aquinas/Calvin” nexus is mentioned in the review by Nagel, not necessarily in direct commentary by Plantinga in his text. It may be very likely that Plantinga is reliant upon such a nexus, but it may not be entirely so, as he also is working from the “rough intersection” of creedal Christianity. I think you would agree that the Romans, the Anglicans and the Reformed “roughly” occupy that space with us Lutherans, though we may stand on different corners at that creedal intersection. He’s also working with, and within, a philosophical framework informed by theology, and not a theological framework informed by philosophy. You may be looking for answers or distinctions that aren’t directly germane to the central thesis Plantinga is advancing. Not that your anthropological questions or objections aren’t valid concerns, just that the argumentative context doesn’t bear directly on those concerns. Something to consider, perhaps.

    This appears on the reading of the review to be a very interesting read. I will have to go and search it out.

    Also, for those so interested, there was an interesting segment on Issues, Etc. from September 19th: “Evolutionary Naturalism’s Fatal Flaw” which touches on the unreasonableness argument alluded to in Nagel’s review. It can be found on iTunes or here: http://issuesetc.org/category/podcast/

  • SKPeterson

    Frank – Before you hit Plantinga over the head with the Confessions, you need to remember that the “Aquinas/Calvin” nexus is mentioned in the review by Nagel, not necessarily in direct commentary by Plantinga in his text. It may be very likely that Plantinga is reliant upon such a nexus, but it may not be entirely so, as he also is working from the “rough intersection” of creedal Christianity. I think you would agree that the Romans, the Anglicans and the Reformed “roughly” occupy that space with us Lutherans, though we may stand on different corners at that creedal intersection. He’s also working with, and within, a philosophical framework informed by theology, and not a theological framework informed by philosophy. You may be looking for answers or distinctions that aren’t directly germane to the central thesis Plantinga is advancing. Not that your anthropological questions or objections aren’t valid concerns, just that the argumentative context doesn’t bear directly on those concerns. Something to consider, perhaps.

    This appears on the reading of the review to be a very interesting read. I will have to go and search it out.

    Also, for those so interested, there was an interesting segment on Issues, Etc. from September 19th: “Evolutionary Naturalism’s Fatal Flaw” which touches on the unreasonableness argument alluded to in Nagel’s review. It can be found on iTunes or here: http://issuesetc.org/category/podcast/

  • fws

    skp

    I am not hitting the man over the head with the Confessions.

    I do believe that I am describing his his intellectual framework and THE critical point where it differs from Lutheranism.

    Am I saying that he therefore has nothing worthwhile to say that a Lutheran can learn from? Of course not.

    I constantly say that St Thomas was 10x´s the intellect of Luther, calvin, chemnitz etc. and believe that to be true. It makes me a better Lutheran, actually , to read St Thomas. He makes me rethink the “first things” of Lutheranism actually.

    That distinction as to faith versus Faith(in Two Words) , and how that connects to reason and morals and christianity is really, really, important SKP.

    And the article seems to fulcrum exactly on that point about faith doesn´t it? And it doesn´t make that critical, uberfoundational Lutheran distinction.

    Take that single fine distinction away, and Lutheranism returns to the Thomist Augustinian Aristotelianism that was it´s intellectual craddle until Luther rediscovered St Paul.

  • fws

    skp

    I am not hitting the man over the head with the Confessions.

    I do believe that I am describing his his intellectual framework and THE critical point where it differs from Lutheranism.

    Am I saying that he therefore has nothing worthwhile to say that a Lutheran can learn from? Of course not.

    I constantly say that St Thomas was 10x´s the intellect of Luther, calvin, chemnitz etc. and believe that to be true. It makes me a better Lutheran, actually , to read St Thomas. He makes me rethink the “first things” of Lutheranism actually.

    That distinction as to faith versus Faith(in Two Words) , and how that connects to reason and morals and christianity is really, really, important SKP.

    And the article seems to fulcrum exactly on that point about faith doesn´t it? And it doesn´t make that critical, uberfoundational Lutheran distinction.

    Take that single fine distinction away, and Lutheranism returns to the Thomist Augustinian Aristotelianism that was it´s intellectual craddle until Luther rediscovered St Paul.

  • fws

    I would suggest that it is very significant here that Lutherans , uniquely, very narrowly define the Gospel as the “heart-knowing” of Two Words “For You!”

    Radically, that means that one can preach Christ Crucified in word and in the Holy Supper and be serving up a steamin heapin helpin of the most terrifying and damning Law that exists.

    And we teach that this IS the case if even the very slightest condition is placed upon the utterly unconditional preaching of those Two Words.

    To talk about “faith” outside of this very, very, very narrow context and distinction , is to fail to identify that we are stuck in talking about the Law, which always and only accuses and kills.

    It is to think we can bridge to atheists by some sort of right thinking. This is of course the bait that is offered in this article. It intrigues us. It shouldnt. It is to describe a kind of faith that is utterly about reason. It is a gift of natural man from God. So?

    Is making this point maybe, correctly, hitting someone over the head with the Confessions…just as our Confessions intend? maybe?

  • fws

    I would suggest that it is very significant here that Lutherans , uniquely, very narrowly define the Gospel as the “heart-knowing” of Two Words “For You!”

    Radically, that means that one can preach Christ Crucified in word and in the Holy Supper and be serving up a steamin heapin helpin of the most terrifying and damning Law that exists.

    And we teach that this IS the case if even the very slightest condition is placed upon the utterly unconditional preaching of those Two Words.

    To talk about “faith” outside of this very, very, very narrow context and distinction , is to fail to identify that we are stuck in talking about the Law, which always and only accuses and kills.

    It is to think we can bridge to atheists by some sort of right thinking. This is of course the bait that is offered in this article. It intrigues us. It shouldnt. It is to describe a kind of faith that is utterly about reason. It is a gift of natural man from God. So?

    Is making this point maybe, correctly, hitting someone over the head with the Confessions…just as our Confessions intend? maybe?

  • Adam

    FWS,
    Maybe you can clarify something for me. I see that article 2 of The Apology ties original righteousness with the image of God. So, I’m on the same page with you, as far as I can tell. However, the way I read your comments I get the impression that the image of God is ONLY origional righteousness. I don’t see where the apology explicitly says that (which, of course could simply mean that I’m missing it).

    If it is the case that the image of God is ONLY origional righteousness, how would you handle genesis 9:6, which takes place after the fall?

    Thanks for your help ( and necessary patience!)

  • Adam

    FWS,
    Maybe you can clarify something for me. I see that article 2 of The Apology ties original righteousness with the image of God. So, I’m on the same page with you, as far as I can tell. However, the way I read your comments I get the impression that the image of God is ONLY origional righteousness. I don’t see where the apology explicitly says that (which, of course could simply mean that I’m missing it).

    If it is the case that the image of God is ONLY origional righteousness, how would you handle genesis 9:6, which takes place after the fall?

    Thanks for your help ( and necessary patience!)

  • dust

    another book with a similar message (maybe betterly expressed?) is “The Last Superstition” by Edward Feser.

    Unfortunately for Snafu Feser looks more like an artiste than a philosopher :)

    cheers!

  • dust

    another book with a similar message (maybe betterly expressed?) is “The Last Superstition” by Edward Feser.

    Unfortunately for Snafu Feser looks more like an artiste than a philosopher :)

    cheers!

  • fws

    adam @ 10

    Art II is actually a sylogism. Since Melancthon wanted to connect with the overall arguments of the Scholastics he starts in the middle of the sylogism and backs into the rest.

    The image of God is identified as being synonymous with original Righteousness.

    Natural Man possesses everything now that he had before the fall except whatever it was constituted Original Righeousness and the Image of God.

    What is restored in Baptismal Regeneration is the Image of God and Original Righteousness, which is faith alone, in Christ alone.

    Gerhard and Chemitz say that to deny that the Image of God was completely lost is to deny Original Sin (cf their Loci).

    To answer your specific question now… short answer: 1) I dont know. reading Luthers Genesis commentary might help. 2) we Lutherans read the Scriptures using the Law and Gospel distinction we are taught in the Confessions as the two lenses of our eyeglasses that allow us the depth perception to see Christ Alone .
    So whatever they answer is , it will agree with what I just presented.

    I would point out that Ap Art II is the very start of an argumentative thread that Melancthon builds brick by brick in art II, III and IV. It is ALL about the proper distinction of Law and Gospel. Original Sin and original righeousness being all about faith rather than conformity to the law. “whatsovever is not of faith is sin” this say that the opposite of sin is not goodness (law conformity), it is faith in Christ , alone.
    Then in the remaining articles he takes up Law and Gospel distinction, in the modality of Two Kingdoms, to show how Law and Gospel distinction resolves all of the casuistic issues at stake in his time.
    The formula of concord is to be read as a commentary on the Apology that recapitulates and applies the apologyu to issues with Melancthonian-calvinistic-Lutheranism.

    Yes the Image of God and Original Righeousness were totally lost. The consisted , alone, of faith , alone, in Christ Alone.

    Why does that matter? the restoration of those things then are the restoration of faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from the Law.

    FC art I and II (which must be read as a couplet), discusses this very well recasting apology II relative to the debate current at 1580.

    I hope that quick and rambling response helps Adam. I am in a rush to an important appointment. Your question is excellent and I do not mean to give it short shrift at all. forgive me for my lack of a more careful response.

  • fws

    adam @ 10

    Art II is actually a sylogism. Since Melancthon wanted to connect with the overall arguments of the Scholastics he starts in the middle of the sylogism and backs into the rest.

    The image of God is identified as being synonymous with original Righteousness.

    Natural Man possesses everything now that he had before the fall except whatever it was constituted Original Righeousness and the Image of God.

    What is restored in Baptismal Regeneration is the Image of God and Original Righteousness, which is faith alone, in Christ alone.

    Gerhard and Chemitz say that to deny that the Image of God was completely lost is to deny Original Sin (cf their Loci).

    To answer your specific question now… short answer: 1) I dont know. reading Luthers Genesis commentary might help. 2) we Lutherans read the Scriptures using the Law and Gospel distinction we are taught in the Confessions as the two lenses of our eyeglasses that allow us the depth perception to see Christ Alone .
    So whatever they answer is , it will agree with what I just presented.

    I would point out that Ap Art II is the very start of an argumentative thread that Melancthon builds brick by brick in art II, III and IV. It is ALL about the proper distinction of Law and Gospel. Original Sin and original righeousness being all about faith rather than conformity to the law. “whatsovever is not of faith is sin” this say that the opposite of sin is not goodness (law conformity), it is faith in Christ , alone.
    Then in the remaining articles he takes up Law and Gospel distinction, in the modality of Two Kingdoms, to show how Law and Gospel distinction resolves all of the casuistic issues at stake in his time.
    The formula of concord is to be read as a commentary on the Apology that recapitulates and applies the apologyu to issues with Melancthonian-calvinistic-Lutheranism.

    Yes the Image of God and Original Righeousness were totally lost. The consisted , alone, of faith , alone, in Christ Alone.

    Why does that matter? the restoration of those things then are the restoration of faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from the Law.

    FC art I and II (which must be read as a couplet), discusses this very well recasting apology II relative to the debate current at 1580.

    I hope that quick and rambling response helps Adam. I am in a rush to an important appointment. Your question is excellent and I do not mean to give it short shrift at all. forgive me for my lack of a more careful response.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Some perspectives:

    Folks ruled by frequentism find “faith” anathema, whereas people who are more open to a Bayesian view of reality, like myself, are not opposed to faith.

    However, aware as I was of Plantigina “sensus divinatus”, I’m perplexed about how this interacts with the “atheist” problem. Too much determinism there.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Some perspectives:

    Folks ruled by frequentism find “faith” anathema, whereas people who are more open to a Bayesian view of reality, like myself, are not opposed to faith.

    However, aware as I was of Plantigina “sensus divinatus”, I’m perplexed about how this interacts with the “atheist” problem. Too much determinism there.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    If I have understood Feser right, he actually does not have a similar approach as does Plantinga, whose reformed epistemology is – according to Feser – sort of fideism. Ok, maybe some mutual points of agreement can be found on whether there is a discord or harmony between theism and science, but nevertheless.

    I didn’t read all of fws’s posts, but I think Aquinas (and Plantinga) are talking much about whole different aspects of faith than Luther. They stress more natural theology and the rational and epistemological aspects of Christian faith whereas Luther talks about faith primarily in the context of being justified by faith.

    Both views can probably be applied outside their original context to do harm on natural theology or justification.

  • http://snafman.blogspot.com Snafu

    If I have understood Feser right, he actually does not have a similar approach as does Plantinga, whose reformed epistemology is – according to Feser – sort of fideism. Ok, maybe some mutual points of agreement can be found on whether there is a discord or harmony between theism and science, but nevertheless.

    I didn’t read all of fws’s posts, but I think Aquinas (and Plantinga) are talking much about whole different aspects of faith than Luther. They stress more natural theology and the rational and epistemological aspects of Christian faith whereas Luther talks about faith primarily in the context of being justified by faith.

    Both views can probably be applied outside their original context to do harm on natural theology or justification.


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