categoryFaith + Reason

Faith and/or Reason

Philosophical Apologetics, the Church, and Contemporary Culture

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Moreland defines what he calls philosophical apologetics as "a philosophical activity which has as its goal (or perhaps as its result) the increasing or maintaining of the epistemic justification of a Christian world view in whole or in part." Moreland surveys several varieties of philosophical apologetics and makes the case for philosophy as an essential and specially placed discipline for the effective integration of theology with other sources of knowledge claims. Finally, Moreland suggests several practical ways in which Christians can interact persuasively with the world of ideas that undercut the plausibility and relevance of Christian ideas in contemporary culture. ~ Afterall

Proper Confidence

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Looking to end the divisive conflict tht has raged between Christians who attack each other either as “liberals” or as “fundamentalists”, Newbigin gives a historical account of the roots of this conflict in order to begin laying the foundation for a middle ground that will benefit the Christian faith as a whole and allow Christians to unitedly proclaim the gospel in a pluralistic world. “A masterful demonstration of the bankruptcy of secularism and all forms of Christian accommodation to it.” ~ Books and Culture “This is an important book for pastors and teachers serving in church settings where the temptation to soften the scandal of the cross is present or where the good news, for all its outward acceptance, is thought (deep down) to be a source of embarrassment…. The book is beautifully written, a powerful statement of faith in God, whose incarnation has changed the nature of human life forever and whose call to the church cannot be altered by the temptation to believe that the human being is the center of the universe.” ~ Princeton Seminary Bulletin

Faith and Criticism

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Faith and Criticism addresses a central problem in the church today — the tension between traditionalists and progressives. Traditionalists want above all to hold fast to traditional foundations in belief and ensure that nothing of value is lost, even at the risk of a clash with “modern knowledge.” Progressives are concerned above all to proclaim a faith that is credible today, even at the risk of sacrificing some elements of traditional doctrine. They are often locked in uncomprehending conflict. Basil Mitchell argues that, not only in theology but in any other serious intellectual pursuit, faith and criticism are interdependent. A tradition which is not open to criticism will eventually ossify; and without faith in some established tradition criticism has nothing to fasten upon. This interdependence of faith and criticism has implications for society at large. Religious education can be Christian without ceasing to be critical, and a liberal society can espouse Christian values. ~ Product Description

Mortimer J. Adler on Faith and Reason

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I suspect that most of the individuals who have religious faith are content with blind faith. They feel no obligation to understand what they believe. They may even wish not to have their beliefs disturbed by thought. But if God in whom they believe created them with intellectual and rational powers, that imposes upon them the duty to try to understand the creed of their religion. Not to do so is to verge on superstition.

William Lane Craig on Faith and Mere Probability

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But the fact that Christianity can only be shown to be probably true need not be troubling when two things are kept in mind: first, that we attain no more than probability with respect to almost everything we infer…without detriment to the depth of our conviction and that even our non-inferred, basic beliefs may not be held with any sort of absolute certainty…; and second, that even if we can only show Christianity to be probably true, nevertheless we can on the basis of the Spirit’s witness know Christianity to be true with a deep assurance that far outstrips what the evidence in our particular situation might support (think analogously of the person convinced of his innocence even though all the evidence stands against him). To demand logically demonstrative proofs as a pre-condition for making a religious commitment is therefore just being unreasonable.

Pearcey and Thaxton on Non-Euclideanism and Relativism

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Throughout the academic world, non-Euclidean geometry was invoked to support a positivistic, anti-metaphysical temper of thought. A culture was assumed to be analogous to a geometry. Both were built on a few postulates chosen from an indefinite number of possibilities; both consisted of internally consistent, interrelated wholes; and both were immune to judgements about their truth or falsity in any ultimate
sense. Just as different geometries could all be logically valid, it was argued, so any number of different cultural and ethical systems could all be logically valid. Thus non-Euclideanism became a metaphor for the rejection of all traditional deductive systems — particularly the moral and religious tradition of Christianity. This is not to say that non-Euclideanism is intrinsically anti-Christian or anti-religious. Yet it was invoked as a symbol to deny that Christianity has any claim to a superior or exclusive truth.

Mark A. Noll on the Evangelical Mind

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The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind. Despite dynamic success at a popular level, modern American evangelicals have failed notably in sustaining serious intellectual life. They have nourished millions of believers in the simple verities of the gospel but have largely abandoned the university, the arts, and other realms of “high” culture… The historical situation is… curious. Modern evangelicals are the spiritual descendants of leaders and movements distinguished by probing, creative, fruitful attention to the mind.

William Lane Craig on Reasonable Faith

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Moreover, it’s not just Christian scholars and pastors who need to be intellectually engaged with the issues. Christian laymen, too, need to be intellectually engaged. Our churches are filled with Christians who are idling in intellectual neutral. As Christians, their minds are going to waste. One result of this is an immature, superficial faith. People who simply ride the roller coaster of emotional experience are cheating themselves out of a deeper and richer Christian faith by neglecting the intellectual side of that faith. They know little of the riches of deep understanding of Christian truth, of the confidence inspired by the discovery that one’s faith is logical and fits the facts of experience, of the stability brought to one’s life by the conviction that one’s faith is objectively true.

William Lane Craig on Apologetics

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What, then, should be our approach in apologetics? It should be something like this: ‘My friend, I know Christianity is true because God’s Spirit lives in me and assures me that it is true. And you can know it is true, too, because God is knocking at the door of your heart, telling you the same thing. If you are sincerely seeking God, then God will give you assurance that the gospel is true. Now, to try to show you it’s true, I’ll share with you some arguments and evidence that I really find convincing. But should my arguments seem weak and unconvincing to you, that’s my fault, not God’s. It only shows that I’m a poor apologist, not that the gospel is untrue. Whatever you think of my arguments, God still loves you and holds you accountable. I’ll do my best to present good arguments to you. But ultimately you have to deal, not with arguments, but with God himself.’

Alister McGrath on Orpheus’ Approach

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If the world seems attractive, the Christian must ensure that God, as its creator, is seen to be even more attractive. The world reflects the attractiveness of its creator, as the moon reflects the light of the sun. ¶ Two incidents from classical Greek mythology suggest themselves here. Homer introduces us to the Sirens, a group of women whose singing was so seductive that they caused sailors to crash their vessels through inattention to their duties. When Ulysses was attempting to sail his ship past the Sirens, he prevented the Sirens from causing any difficulties by the simple expedient of blocking his sailors’ ears so that they could not hear the captivating Siren song. Orpheus, on the other hand, was a skilled lyre player. His method of dealing with this kind of threat was rather indifferent. He played his lyre, the music of which proved so enchanting and fascinating that its beauty totally outweighed anything else.

Brennan Manning on the Gospel for the Ignorant

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The scribes were treated with excessive deference in Jewish society because of their education and learning. Everyone honored them because of their wisdom and intelligence. The “mere children”(napioi in Greek, really meaning babes) were Jesus’ image for the uneducated and ignorant. He is saying that the gospel of grace has been disclosed to and grasped by the uneducated and ignorant instead of the learned and wise. For this Jesus thanks God… The babes (napioi) are in the same state as the children (paidia). God’s grace falls on them because they are negligible creatures, not because of their good qualities. They may be aware of their worthlessness, but this is not the reason revelations are given to them. Jesus expressly attributes their good fortune to the Father’s good pleasure, the divine eudokia. The gifts are not determined by the slightest personal quality or virtue. They were pure liberality. Once and for all, Jesus deals the death blow to any distinction between the elite and the ordinary in the Christian community.

Richard Dawkins on Faith as a Mental Illness

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Faith cannot move mountains (though generations of children are solemnly told the contrary and believe it). But it is capable of driving people to such dangerous folly that faith seems to me to qualify as a kind of mental illness. It leads people to believe in whatever it is so strongly that in extreme cases they are prepared to kill and to die for it without the need for further justification.

Ronald Nash on Positive and Negative Apologetics

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It is helpful to distinguish between negative and positive apologetics. In negative apologetics, the major objective is producing answers to challenges to religious faith. The proper tack of negative apologetics is removing obstacles to belief… In negative apologetics, the apologist is playing defense. In positive apologetics, the apologist begins to play offense. It is one thing to show (or attempt to show) that assorted arguments against religious faith are weak or unsound; it is a rather different task to offer people reasons why they should believe. The latter is the task of positive apologetics.

Thomas V. Morris on Theological Realism

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The Judeo-Christian religious tradition, is not just a domain of poetry, imagery, mystical transport, moral directive, and non cognitive, existential self-understanding. Interacting especially with the philosophically developed tradition of Christian theology, [I] joint the vast majority of other leading contributors to contemporary philosophical theology in taking for granted theological realism, the cognitive stance presupposed by the classical theistic concern to direct our thoughts as well as our lives aright. It has been the intent of theologians throughout most of the history of the Christian faith to deserve correctly, within our limits, certain important facts about God, human beings, and the rest of creation given in revelation and fundamental to the articulation of any distinctively Christian world view. In particular, reflective Christians throughout the centuries have understood their faith as providing key insights into, and resources for, the construction of a comprehensive metaphysics.

Scaling the Secular City

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Moreland’s work must be considered one of the premier works on apologetics written by an evangelical. Although William Lane Craig is probably now worthy to be called the dean of evangelical apologists, Moreland’s volume from the 1980s still stands alone as the best single volume in dealing with challenges to the Christian faith. This is due in large part to two factors: the format of the book and Moreland’s concise way in handling the issues under discussion. ~ Shannon Richie … “No evangelical now writing on apologetics surpasses Moreland in philosophical ability. Every person who intends to speak for Christ to the contemporary mind should master the content and spirit of this book.” ~ Dallas Willard, University of Southern California.

A.G. Sertillanges on Urgent Thoughtfulness

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Here I am … living in a time of permanent drama, witnessing upheavals such as perhaps the globe never before saw since the mountains rose and the seas were driven into their caverns. What have I to do for this panting, palpitating century? More than ever before thought is waiting for men, and men for thought. The world is in danger for lack of life-giving maxims. We are in a train rushing ahead at top speed, no signals visible. The planet is going it knows not where, its law has failed it: who will give it back its sun?

Why the Burden of Proof is on the Atheist

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In this paper, I ponder two questions: (1) Why can’t the religious believer simply put the burden on the skeptic, and ask him to justify his unbelief, with the underlying assumption that as between theism and atheism, it is the former that is obviously true and the latter that is obviously false? (2) This not being possible in any way that is of immediate interest to religious belief, how does the believer regard his inability to prove the truth of faith in the manner the skeptic demands?

Antony Flew on Sufficient Proof

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Now it is often seems to people who are not religious as if there was no conceivable event or series of events the occurrence of which would be admitted by sophisticated religious people to be a sufficient reason for conceding ‘there wasn’t a God after all’ or ‘God does not really love us then.’ Someone tells us that God loves us as a father loves his children. We are reassured. But then we see a child dying of inoperable cancer of the throat … Some qualification is made — God’s love is “not merely human love” … perhaps — and we realize that such suffering are quite compatible with the truth of the assertion that “God loves us as a father …” We are reassured again … I therefore put … the simple central questions, “What would have to occur or to have occurred to constitute for you a disproof of the love of, or the existence of, God?”

Charles Malik on Christian Anti-Intellectualism

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I must be frank with you: the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough. But intellectual nurture cannot take place apart from profound immersion for a period of years in the history of thought and the spirit. People who are in a hurry to get out of the university and start earning money or serving the church or preaching the gospel have no idea of the infinite value of spending years of leisure conversing with the greatest minds and souls of the past, ripening and sharpening and enlarging their powers of thinking. The result is that the arena of creative thinking is vacated and abdicated to the enemy… It will take a different spirit altogether to overcome this great danger of anti-intellectualism. For example, I say this different spirit, so far as philosophy alone — the most important domain for thought and intellect — is concerned, must see the tremendous value of spending an entire year doing nothing but poring intensely over the Republic or the Sophist of Plato, or two years over the Metaphysics or the Ethics of Aristotle, or three years over the City of God of Augustine. But if a start is made now on a crash program in this and other domains, it will take at least a century to catch up with the Harvards and Tübingens and Sorbonnes — and by then where will these universities be?

The Justification of Religious Belief

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Can the existence of God be demonstrated? Is the very idea of God logically incoherent? What is the nature of the arguments for and against the existence of God, and how do they relate to other kinds of arguments? Is a rational choice between belief and non-belief possible? “The problem before us is that, if systems of religous belief require and admit of rational justification, as has been argued, they ought only to be accepted more or less…”

Francis A. Schaeffer on Believing and Bowing

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I am invited to ask the sufficient questions in regard to details but also in regard to the existence of man. I am invited to ask, the sufficient question and then believe him and bow before him metaphysically in knowing that I exist because he made man, and bow
before him morally as needing his provision for me in the substitutionary, propitiatory death of Christ.

Descartes on Such Doubts

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Yesterday’s meditation has thrown me into such doubts that I can no longer ignore them, yet I fail to see how they are to be resolved. It is as if I had suddenly fallen into a deep whirlpool; I am so tossed about that I can neither touch bottom with my foot, nor swim up to the top.

Francis A. Schaeffer on Truth and Christianity

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In the face of this modern nihilism, Christians are often lacking in courage. We tend to give the impression that we will hold on to the outward forms whatever happens, even if god really is not there. But the opposite ought to be true of us, so that people can see that we demand the truth of what is there and that we are not dealing merely with platitudes. In other words, it should be understood that we take the question of truth and personality so seriously that if God were not there we would be among the first of those who had the courage to step out of the queue.

C.S. Lewis on Ethics and Christianity

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Christianity claims to give an account of facts — to tell you what the real universe is like. Its account of the universe may be true, or it may not, and once the question is really before you, then your natural inquisitivenes must make you want to answer. If Christianity is untrue, then no honest man will want to believe it, however helpful it might be: if it is true, every honest man will want to believe it, even if it gives him no help at all. As soon as we have realized this, we realise something else. If Christianity should happen to be true, then it is quite impossible that those who know this truth and those who don’t should be equally well-equipped for leading a good life. Knowledge of the facts must make a difference to one’s actions.