Doctrine DOES Change

Pope Francis arrives at the Synod on the family.

Over the last two weeks, Pope Francis made some courageous steps in dragging the Catholic Church into the 21st century. First, he called a Synod to discuss non-traditional family arrangements, including divorces, those raising children outside of wedlock, and gays and lesbians. Then he began the synod by telling the assembled bishops to speak their minds honestly, not holding anything back.

Halfway through the synod, the Vatican released a provisional report on what they were discussing, and it contained language so welcoming to gays and lesbians that it ignited a global debate. After another week, the final report was released, and it lacked much of the language that welcomed gays, lesbians, and those who choose to raise children without getting married. Andrew Sullivan called it, “Two steps forward, one step back.”

What has most surprised Sullivan and others who watch the Vatican closely is that instead of just releasing the final report, the entire report was released — including the defeated paragraphs — along with the vote tally for each paragraph. This kind of transparency from the Catholic magisterium is a revolution itself, and its possible significance should not be underestimated.

Sullivan concludes his post on the Synod, [Read more...]

Postmodernism Is Dead (Again), and Its Successor Is Worse

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Postmodern philosophy saved my faith. Of that there is no doubt, and I’ve not been shy about asserting that fact. Surely I was immersed in postmodernism in college — one of my vividest memories is a classics professor mockingly reading a course description for comparative literature as our class laughed uproariously. But it wasn’t until I arrived at Fuller Theological Seminary in the fall of 1990 and fell under the sway of Nancey Murphy and Jim McClendon that I put words to it. The slipperiness of meaning, the impossibility of objectivity, the incommensurability of truth claims — these themes of postmodernism appealed to me and gave my faith room to grow.

Many times in the years since, I’ve been told that postmodernism is dead. Most recently, Alan Kirby has said it, this time in Philosophy Now. Postmodernism is alive and well in university course catalogs, he concedes, but if you look beyond the walls of the academy, it’s already dead. But don’t dance on its grave just yet, he warns, because the heir apparent, critical realism, is in no better shape.

As evidence, Kirby points to the cultural artifacts that are currently being produced — in film, fiction, and visual art, postmodernism is non-existent: [Read more...]

You Don’t Know If God Exists…Or Doesn’t Exist

Friend of the blog and Yale philosopher Keith DeRose has a fascinating interview up at the NYTimes’s The Stone. On the heels of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s admission that he sometimes doubts the existence of God, Keith argues that no one knows whether God exists.

But, more politically unpopular these days, he argues just as strongly that atheists cannot prove — indeed, don’t even know — that God doesn’t exist:

The thought that God exists does strike many atheists as bizarre. But, in contrast to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, there are all of these theists and agnostics who do not find the thought of God’s existence bizarre, and I really think they ruin our atheist friends’ hopes for easy knowledge here. The basic point is that, when there are many other apparently sensible people who disagree with you, you need a good argument to claim that you know they’re wrong.

Keith’s point is that atheists can’t simply write off belief in a God because they find such a belief bizarre. That’s not a counter-argument.

[Read more...]

God Is Not Eternal

Writing a book on the atonement is like peeling the layers of an onion. Everything theological dilemma you solve only brings up two more dilemmas. So it was that I needed to write a section in the book on God’s relationship to time, because it seemed to make no sense to talk about God’s relationship to Jesus’ crucifixion unless I could explain God’s relationship to time.

So a couple weeks back, I write a post arguing that God is not outside of time. When he read that, Keith DeRose sent me Nicholas Wolterstorff‘s classic essay, “God Everlasting” (in Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, New York: Oxford, 1982).

In that essay, Wolterstorff argues that God is not eternal, God is everlasting.

His argument proceeds thusly:

[Read more...]


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