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61. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Ben Waters Methuselah’s Diary and the Finitude of the Past
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William Lane Craig modified Bertrand Russell’s Tristram Shandy example in order to derive an absurdity that would demonstrate the finitude of the past. Although his initial attempt at such an argument faltered, further developments in the literature suggested that such an absurdity was indeed in the offing provided that a couple extra statements were also shown to be true. This article traces the development of a particular line of argument that arose from Craig’s Tristram Shandy example before advancing an argument of its own that attempts to fill in the relevant gaps so as to yield a new argument for the finitude of the past.
62. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
John C. Peckham Providence and God’s Unfulfilled Desires
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This note addresses the issue of divine providence by engaging the representative po­sitions exhibited in Zondervan’s Four Views of Divine Providence in light of the question, Does God always get what he wants? After briefly surveying and evaluating the implications of the determinist, openness, and Molinist responses as portrayed in Four Views, the essay concludes that an indeterminist perspective that affirms both human freedom to do otherwise than God desires and God’s exhaustive foreknowledge provides the most adequate response to the question such that, whereas God’s desires are sometimes unfulfilled, he will certainly accomplish his all-encompassing and omnibenevolent providential purpose.
63. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Craig Hazen Editor’s Introduction
64. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Greg Jesson The Husserlian Roots of Dallas Willard’s Philosophical and Religious Works: Knowledge of the Temporal and the Eternal
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Dallas Willard’s reliance on Edmund Husserl’s early works, especially The Logical Investigations, grounded his direct realism, which allowed for an epistemology that made knowledge of mind-independent reality possible. Representationalism, idealism, phenomenalism, Kantianism, and skepticism were challenged because each posits an account of experience that makes such knowledge impossible. Willard’s ontology of knowing is centered on the intentionality of consciousness wherein acquaintance with things-in-themselves allows open rational inquiry into life’s ultimate questions. This cleared the way for him to describe how one can know that God exists and how one’s character can be transformed into the character of Jesus of Nazareth.
65. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Brendan Sweetman D. Z. Phillips on Christian Belief, Immortality, and Resurrection
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This paper is a critical reflection and response to the religious fideism of D. Z. Phillips, and especially to recent attempts to defend this fideism. Over the course of his career, Phillips argued for a number of interesting but quite dramatic theses about religious belief, including the claim that what is sometimes called the propositional nature of religious belief is frequently misunderstood by philosophers, and that this misunderstanding involves a distortion of what religious believers are doing when they say they believe in God and engage in various religious practices. This paper explores these and other claims in the light of recent interesting attempts to defend them, especially in the work of Patrick Horn. I elaborate the distinction between the propositional and expressive dimensions of religious belief, and argue that Horn does not succeed in rescuing Phillips’s view from a number of serious philosophical objections, including the objection that theirs is a metaphorical interpretation of religion. I suggest also that Horn’s and Phillips’s fideistic versions of religious belief and religious phenomena may involve an element of self-deception, and would likely lead to people giving up their religious beliefs, or at least to their beliefs playing a decreasing role in their everyday lives.
66. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Joshua R. Farris Discovering God and Soul: A Reappraisal of and Appreciation for Cartesian Natural Theology
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As a contribution to ramified natural theology, I advance some thoughts in favor of a distinctively Cartesian variation of natural theology that lends itself to the Christian understanding of God as a mind and as personal. I propose that defenders of Cartesian natural theology, as commonly construed in much of the contemporary substance dualist literature, construe the soul as a “sign” or “pointer” to God such that we, as human persons, seem to have access to God’s nature and existence via the soul (mind) as a rationale for the world and for persons. On this basis, I respond to a common anti-Cartesian charge(s) from subjectivism. Finally, I suggest that this approach deserves further consideration concerning theological prolegomena.
67. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
R. T. Mullins Four-Dimensionalism, Evil, and Christian Belief
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Four-dimensionalism and eternalism are theories on time, change, and persistence. Christian philosophers and theologians have adopted four-dimensional eternalism for various reasons. In this paper I shall attempt to argue that four-dimensional eternalism conflicts with Christian thought. Section I will lay out two varieties of four-dimensionalism—perdurantism and stage theory—along with the typically associated ontologies of time of eternalism and growing block. I shall contrast this with presentism and endurantism. Section II will look at some of the purported theological benefits of adopting four-dimensionalism and eternalism. Section III will examine arguments against four-dimensional eternalism from the problem of evil. Section IV will argue that four-dimensional eternalism causes problems for Christian eschatology.
68. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Walter Schultz The Actual World from Platonism to Plans: An Emendation of Alvin Plantinga’s Modal Realism
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“The actual world” is a familiar term in possible-worlds discourse. A desirable account of the nature and structure of the actual world that coheres with the doctrine of creation ex nihilo will (1) include a theory of truth-making, (2) account for the dynamics of the universe in relation to the doctrine of creation, (3) say how so-called abstract objects are related to God, and (4) preclude the Russell Paradox. By emending Alvin Plantinga’s theistic modal realism, this paper recovers a view of the actual world as God’s plan and briefly states how the metaphysical theory that results meets these desiderata.
69. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
W. David Beck, Max Andrews God and the Multiverse: A Thomistic Modal Realism
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Recent developments in quantum physics postulate the existence of some form of multiverse, often considered inimical to theism. We argue that a cosmology of many worlds is not novel either to philosophy or to theism. The multiverse is not a monolithic concept and we refer to and use the four levels of categorization proposed by Max Tegmark. We trace the idea of a multiverse back to the Milesians and Epicureans in order to initially demonstrate its use of a plenitude argument. We then examine the argument for possible compatibility based on a theistic principle of plenitude in three specifically Christian theists: Origen, Thomas Aquinas, and G. W. Leibniz. We conclude that this argument is sustainable so that if any level of the multiverse actually exists then it is harmonious with theism, and we argue that its fit is most successful if a multiverse is considered as a single possible world. We call this view Thomistic modal realism.
70. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Mark S. McLeod-Harrison Christianity’s Many Ways of Salvation: Toward an Irrealistic Salvific Inclusivism
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Many Christians take an exclusivist stance on the nature and access of salvation. This essay explores the realist assumptions often found behind such exclusivist views and presents an alternative understanding of Christian salvation that is inclusivistic, irrealistic, and pluralistic.
71. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Kenneth Hochstetter Persistence and the Resurrection: Why a Christian Should Not Be a Four-Dimensionalist
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In the metaphysics or persistence, some hold to “four dimensionalism,” the doctrine that temporally extended things have temporal parts. Two four dimensionalists accounts are perdurantism and stage theory. In this paper I assume that these exhaust the possible ways of being a four dimensionalist. I argue that a Christian should not be a four-dimensionalist because four-dimensionalism implies that persons cannot act. The resurrection of Jesus is an act. Thus, four-dimensionalism implies Jesus did not rise from the dead. But, Christianity stands on the resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, a Christian should not be a four-dimensionalist.
72. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Richard B. Davis, W. Paul Franks On Jesus, Derrida, and Dawkins: Rejoinder to Joshua Harris
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In this paper we respond to three objections raised by Joshua Harris to our article, “Against a Postmodern Pentecostal Epistemology,” in which we express misgivings about the conjunction of Pentecostalism with James K. A. Smith’s postmodern, story-based epistemology. According to Harris, our critique (1) problematically assumes a correspondence theory of truth, (2) invalidly concludes that “Derrida’s Axiom” conflicts with “Peter’s Axiom,” and (3) fails to consider an alternative account of the universality of Christian truth claims. We argue that Harris’s objections either demonstrate a deficient interpretation of the relevant biblical passages or are not directed at us at all.
73. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
J. Caleb Clanton A (Partial) Peircean Defense of the Cosmological Argument: A Response to Rowe
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William Rowe’s criticism of the cosmological argument takes aim at the argument’s reliance on the principle of sufficient reason. In this short paper, I outline out how C. S. Peirce’s insights regarding abductive reasoning might be useful in defending the cosmological argument against Rowe’s worry concerning the principle of sufficient reason and the role it plays in the argument.
74. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Nathan D. Shannon Aseity of Persons and the Oneness of God: A Review Essay of Brannon Ellis on Calvin’s Trinitarian Theology
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Brannon Ellis’s book Calvin, Classical Trinitarianism, and the Aseity of the Son is a detailed historical theological study of Calvin’s defense of the doctrine of the self-existence of the person of the Son. The text emphasizes and endorses Calvin’s defense of the necessity and authority of special revelation and the biblical credentials of a distinction between two ways of speaking of God: nonrelatively as to the divine essence, and relatively as to the persons. With these commitments in mind, Calvin’s defense of the aseity of the Son brings the full authority of Trinitarian confession to bear on philosophical theology and implicates at a methodological level the rationalistic tendencies of Thomistic natural theology and perfect being theology.
75. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Joshua Lee Harris Who’s Truth?: A Response to Davis and Franks’s “Against a Postmodern Pentecostal Epistemology”
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This paper is a response to an article in Philosophia Christi by W. Paul Franks and Richard B. Davis entitled “Against a Postmodern Epistemology.” In this article, the authors offer a critique of James K. A. Smith. I respond to three of their particular criticisms in the following manner: (1) by explaining the motivations behind rejecting a modern “correspondence theory of truth”; (2) revealing what I take to be an invalid inference on the topic of scripture and interpretation; and (3) offering an alternative account of the “universality” of the gospel.
76. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Hugh G. Gauch, Jr. Best Practices for Prophecy Arguments
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The argument for Christianity from fulfilled Bible prophecies, when implemented with best practices, can be public, impartial, empirical, significant, efficient, and promising. The competing hypotheses considered here are that Bible prophecies exhibit spectacular accuracy because of revelation from God, or else miserable accuracy because of merely occasional luck from unaided humans. A new statistical analysis can test these hypotheses efficiently with a manageable collection of fulfilled Bible prophecies, typically about five to twenty prophecies, and also can refute a charge that these successful prophecies result from mere luck and bias.
77. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Craig Hazen Editor’s Introduction
78. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Allen Gehring Truthmaking, Truthbearers, and Divine Simplicity
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Recent work using the idea of truthmaking to articulate the doctrine of divine simplicity has not paid enough attention to truthbearers. I address this issue by challenging the assumption that God’s simplicity needs to be conceived as an all-or-nothing matter. For it is possible to distinguish between a weak and a strong version of divine simplicity, and there are reasons regarding truthbearers that provide reason to uphold, at most, the weak version. The weak version of divine simplicity articulated here has some similarities with the view of God advocated by Modified Theistic Activists, but it has important differences as well.
79. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Paul M. Gould Theistic Activism and the Doctrine of Creation
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This paper provides a plausible answer to the question of how God created. In addition, it explores an additional reason, beyond those related to the debate over God’s relationship to abstract objects, for thinking theistic activism true. Specifically, a new model of God’s creative activity—the activist model—will be offered that satisfies key desiderata with respect to the nature of God’s perfect power to create.
80. Philosophia Christi: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Bruce Reichenbach God and Good Revisited: A Case for Contingency
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Treatments of God’s goodness almost always appeal to the traditional Christian doctrine that God is necessarily good, but this introduces the question whether God’s goodness properly can be understood as necessary. After considering an ontological conception of God’s goodness, I propose that God’s goodness is better understood as satisfying six criteria involving moral virtue, intellectual virtue, right actions, right motives, freedom of choice, and freedom of choice with respect to the rightness of the action. I defend the result—that God’s goodness must be understood contingently, not necessarily—against recent critics of this view.