In Alvin Plantinga’s 1980 address to the American Catholic Philosophical Association “The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology”,[i] the proposition God exists is declared to be properly basic by the reformers and as a result natural theology—the arguments for God’s existence—is unnecessary. Following a brief summary of Plantinga’s paper, three benefits of properly basic beliefs will be outlined, and then three reasons will be presented as to why the complete rejection of natural theology using Plantinga’s account of properly basic beliefs simply goes too far.
Plantinga points out this conclusion by establishing that the Classical foundationalist approach of knowledge (commonly attributed to Plato through Aquinas and then a modified form to Descrates through the 20th Century) required all knowledge be built upon certain foundational propositions—namely those that are either self-evident, evident to the senses, or incorrigible—made natural theology necessary. However, reformers like John Calvin rejected Classical foundationalism (in lieu of a form of weak foundationalism) on the grounds that God exists is a foundational proposition per scripture but does not fit the requirements to be a foundational proposition (that is the existence of God is not self-evident, evident to the senses, or incorrigible). As a result, since theologians no longer need to work with foundational principles to arrive at the knowledge of God natural theology becomes unnecessary. Joseph Boyle’s response to Plantinga concisely captures the line of thought: “The Christian knows God exists. Natural theology makes sense only if God's existence is not in the foundations. But it is.”[ii]
Most of my Spring Semester was consumed researching and writing this. Enjoy...
(a PDF can also be found in the Academic Section).
By reviewing attempts by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical Churches, Protestant Neo-Orthodoxy and the recent contributions of Speech Act theory on divine discourse to reconcile the two forms of the Word of God (The Written Word and the Living Word), this paper aims to address how the gap between mankind and the transcendent God can be bridged to allow for the proper order of metaphysics leading to epistemology without denigrating God’s Word by answering the question: is Christ as the illocution of God the essential link between ontology and epistemology, and thus the starting place for Christian systematic theology?
An analysis of Christ's Mission in Matthew 16:13-28 will help Christians to examine what influences their theology. There is too much in this passage to cover in 20 minutes, so a narrow focus is drawn from the parallel situation in Christ's day about maintaining a proper perspective and putting priorities straight in light of the Mission of God and the politics of the day.
Christians need to ensure that political stances and agendas are the direct result of biblical principles in light of Christ's Mission and not culturally conditioned preconceptions supported with a smattering of proof-texts lifted from random parts of the bible. Preached on election day, 11-06-12.
Wonder where the band's name originated?
Craig Blomberg's Degrees of Heavenly Reward in the Kingdom of Heaven? in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Blomberg does a fabulous job of revealing the dangers that “heavenly rewards” poses to the essentials of Christianity. He not only asserts salvation by faith in Christ alone (159) in this life (172) but also that Heaven will not open for those who “flagrantly repudiate Christ without subsequent repentance” (163). Blomberg rightly warns that the threat is not contingent upon whether one believes in “heavenly rewards,” (165), but that one's profession of faith may prove to be entirely vacuous, thus excluding them from Heaven because they thought that the lack of fruit in their lives indicated the absence of future rewards, not the absence of their salvation (172). “Saving faith does over time lead to a visible transformation in lifestyle and to growth in holiness” (172) for a tree is recognized by its fruit!
The “prosperity gospel” is a false gospel, for health and wealth supplant Christ crucified.
How does Man receive salvation? This has been the primary question of every culture since Man can remember. Thus, every religion provides a way to save ones self, except Christianity, which states humans cannot save themselves and require a savior.
Faith in Jesus Christ
The Gospel Message. Who is saved? While this is not a question Christians should be asking, it is probably the question most frequently asked. The answer is those who've heard and truly responded to the Gospel. The Gospel appears throughout Scripture as it is contextualized for various cultures (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 2:14-39; Acts 17:22-31; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11) and can all be distilled to these basic tenets: Every person has broken their relationship with God due to sin and the punishment for sin is physical and spiritual death (Romans 6:23). However, God's mission has been to seek all humans in order restore His relationship with them. Thus, God became a man, His son Jesus Christ, to take the penalty for sin and offer His right standing so that whoever has faith that Christ took their sin and repents will receive forgiveness for their sins. Those who have been saved are called to proclaim the Gospel to all others. Accepting the Gospel is a spiritual transaction, not an assent of belief, opinion, or understanding. Hence, anyone the transaction has been conducted for is saved, even if their theology of the process is deficient.
Is Man basically good? Or evil? One's worldview ultimately boils down to whether or not mankind needs to be regenerated or not. The logical outflow from there informs the rest of an individual's beliefs. If humans don't need to be regenerated, how does one account for evil? Does evil exist at all? If humans do need to be regenerated, what has corrupted them? How are they restored? Thus, the origins of Man and his actions are foundational to the understanding Man's present condition and next steps.
One of the blessings, or curses, of being human is the ability to question our very existence and then the nature of that existence. Whether humans choose to believe we are simply the most highly evolved life-form or the crown of God's creation, both materialists and theists have to agree that there is something unique about the creature known as Man1.
Eschatology, the study of last things or the end of the world, has been an unnecessary stumbling block and source of division within the church. Believers should approach the topic with grace and charity, especially since many details about the end are derived from apocalyptic literature which tends to be metaphorical and vague.
Fortunately, there are areas within eschatology in which all should agree (dogmas), areas of flexibility (doctrines), and areas of freedom (details).
Luis 'Morpheus' Molina
Have you ever wrestled with the issue of God's sovereignty, with Calvinism (TULIP) and Arminianism on opposing sides? It's a tense debate that has raged since the 16th century, and the root of the problem is choice (free will).
Church history reveals that others have dealt with the subject as well, including Luis Molina in his disputations (in Latin): Concordia liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis. Disputatio 47-53
Since Molina on divine foreknowledge: part IV of the Concordia is Scholasticism in full gear it can be a challenging read, but it's the subject matter of dealing with "how does God know what knows" that can make you feel a lot like Alice...tumbling down the rabbit hole.
Here is a brief overview of his work, and the foundation of Molinism, if you'd like to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Every human being has to decide who Jesus Christ was and is. Many try to cast him as a good moral teacher, but in reality this view is either a sign of naivety since the individual must be unaware of what Jesus said, or is a contradiction since the individual doesn't actually want to believe what Jesus said. C.S. Lewis accurately lays out man's only three responses in Mere Christianity to the outlandish things Jesus claimed, that He is: a lunatic, a liar, or He is Lord. Taking Jesus at face value and believing the thins he said about Himself has created the orthodox view of Christ, which rightfully concludes the He is the Lord.