The Cambridge Companion to Christian Philosophical Theology

The latest issue of Themelios includes my review of The Cambridge Companion to Christian Philosophical Theology.

7 Responses to The Cambridge Companion to Christian Philosophical Theology

  1. Comment then a questions

    Please update your blog more!

    Do you think you might do more interaction with Peter Lupu and William Vallicella? I’d love to see that argument continued (if you think there is anything left to say).

    • Thanks for the encouragement! It has been a busy semester on several fronts, but I’m hoping to start posting more often now.

      As for Drs Lupu and Vallicella: I’m sure there’s plenty more to say, but I’d need to go back and review our earlier exchange to remind myself where it left off.

  2. James,

    “Also conspicuous by its absence is a chapter on the doctrine of Scripture (a topic barely touched on in “Revelation and Miracles”) given the foundational role that the Bible has played in Christian theology. Whether these omissions tell us anything significant about the current preoccupations on Christian philosophical theologians, one can only speculate.”

    That is interesting, especially given the philosophers involved in “the Scripture project”:

    http://www.henrycenter.org/2010/05/07/upcoming-gathering-of-the-scripture-project/

    A friend at the conference said the likes of Rea, Helm, Abraham were there. Of course, there were many theologians there too (Carson, Vanhoozer, etc).

    So there is at least some promising signs that the doctrine of Scripture is a preoccupation in the discipline of philosophical theology

  3. Dear Dr. Anderson,

    Speaking here about Bill Vallicella’s blog, I remember we met there. And that our views on metatheories of the Trinity weren’t far from each other. (http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2010/02/negative-and-positive-trinitarian-mysterianism-.html )

    Let me raise here briefly a problem I raised at that time on BV’s log, too (though not so briefly). (http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2010/02/substance-and-suppositum-notes-on-fernand-van-steenberghen.html ) Your theological and mathematical expertise would be surely helpful.

    In sum, I argue that the Standard Scholastic Metatheory of the Trinity (SSMT) implies that it is impossible to know (grasp, see) evidently the non-zero (logical) probability of Christianity. I stress I do _not_ argue for the stronger claim (not defended here as a consequence of SSMT) that it is impossible to be epistemically justified in believing the non-zero probablity of Christianity.

    Roughly, I proceed in four simple steps. First, there is considerable evidence that according to SSMT (i) the Trinity doctrine cannot be evidently consistent (at least without extraordinary religious experience). Now, evidently, every proposition which is not analytically false is consistent. Hence, every proposition which is evidently not analytically false is also evidently consistent. From this and from (i) it follows then that (ii) the Trinity doctrine is not evidently not analytically false (for otherwise it would be evidently consistent). Hence, (iii) the Trinity doctrine does not have the non-zero probability evidently. This step assumes that, evidently, analytically false claim has zero probability. Finally, (iv) no construal of Christianity which includes the Trinity doctrine has the non-zero probability evidently. This step assumes that, evidently, entailed claim have at least the probability of the entailing claim.

    Now, two main objections. First, some scholastic philosophers (e.g. Joseph Gredt) claimed, quite naturally, that Christianity has the non-zero probability evidently. Did they speak of (non-logical) probability in a sense than is not constrained by the modern rules? I don’t know. Second, and more importantly, some philosophers have argued that it is possible to apply induction even in deductive sciences such as mathematics. Paradigmatically, Goldbach’s conjecture has been viewed as probabilified by (enumerative) induction from those many even numbers for which the conjecture has been tested. It has been accordingly suggested (e.g. by Swinburne) that data such as testimonies of certain witnesses non-deductively support the non-contingent claims to consistency of theologically interesting doctrines; at least if one relaxes (like Swinurne) the standard rule of probability used above for (iii). I think however, that induction to mathematical claims is relevantly disanalogous from induction in more mundane contexts. And I also think that the arguments for relaxing standard probability are far from compelling.

    I’d be very interested in your comments.

    Thanks!

    Vlastimil Vohánka

    • Vlastimil,

      Thanks for this comment — sorry for not acknowledging it before now.

      You raise an interesting question and I need to give it some thought. When I have something worth sharing, I will post it!

  4. Definitely looking forward to your hints!